LOGAN, Utah — Forwards Brandon Horvath and Justin Bean led the way as Utah State rolled against San Jose State, 78 to 62. The Aggies collected their fourth win in a row, each by at least 16 points, evening up their conference record at .500.
Horvath and Bean both collected double-doubles in the contest. Horvath looked like he would get a triple-double at halftime, but slowed down in the assists column as he racked up an extra nine points himself.
The Spectrum crowd had reason to cheer with two highlight Horvath dunks. On one play, Horvath stole the ball, dribbled the length of the court, swung the ball around his body and slammed home a two-handed jam. Later, guard Max Shulga sent a pass from mid-court to the wide-open Horvath who dunked the ball with authority.
“I had a close-up view of that dunk behind the back. I wanted him to throw it off the backboard to me, but with that kind of a highlight, you can’t argue with that. It was pretty awesome. I love playing with Brandon. It was pretty cool to have double-doubles, both of us,” Bean said.
Horvath collected his second double-double of the season, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
“I thought he was great. He only had one turnover today which was tremendous,” Odom said. “I thought another thing that he did, in and around the rim especially in the second half, was his contests. Even though he got called for a foul on one of them, still a really nice play and a nice effort for him to protect the basket for us.”
In Bean’s first game without a bandage around his right eye, he started off slow. He went 2-10 from the field in the first and missed a free throw. He went into the locker room with six points.
“For me, it felt like my high school coach; he always says, ‘you guys sometimes can’t hit the broad side of a barn.’ That’s what it felt like for me the first half,” Bean said.
However, he turned things around in the second half, going 5-6 from the field including two 3’s. In total, Bean tallied 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists on the night.
“Bean really settled in, in the second half. It was great to see him being confident from beyond the arc and having some of his shots in and around the basket, like they typically do, go in,” Odom said.
Bean recorded his 40th career-double, 14th this season, but he tries not to focus on his individual performance, especially when he has a rough stretch.
“It’s easy to get caught up in how I’m doing individually, but I just tried to focus on the overall pace of the game, flow of the game. Just tried to make plays on defense, honestly, and get rebounds and try and contribute that way,” Bean said. “I found my windows and just trusted in my shot. Thankfully I got some buckets to go down, but again, a lot of that comes from just believing in myself and not thinking about the stats and then coaches just trusting me to keep shooting.”
Utah State played arguably one of their cleanest games of the year ball movement-wise. They recorded 24 assists, the fifth most in a game this season. The Aggies are 10-0 this season when they have 20 or more assists.
“I think it’s just how our plays are designed and it’s just the way we play. We believe in our teammates. We believe in ourselves. The more the ball moves, the more opportunities we get to score,” Shulga said. “Whenever I get a chance to dime it to my teammate I’ll definitely do it.”
Not only did they move the ball well, but they did so securely. The Aggies had a season-low five turnovers, the least since they had five against Nevada on Feb. 17, 2018.
“That’s special; it really is. It shows that you’re sharing the ball, but you’re also secure with it and you’re giving yourself a chance to get quality looks. We certainly want to do that anytime,” Odom said.
Both teams were neck-and-neck in the first half. San Jose State had the edge in the paint, scoring six more points than the Aggies, but Utah State nailed two more 3’s with six total. The Aggies led at halftime 34 to 33.
Coming out of the break, the Aggies’ one-point lead did not stay that way for long. Fueled by a 15-5 run to start the half, Utah State never led by less than 10 the rest of the way. Horvath and Bean caught fire, combining for 25 of the Aggies’ 44 second-half points.
San Jose State head coach Tim Miles was impressed by the Aggies’ play in the second half.
“Bean and Horvath got away from us in that second half and then they had some timely 3-point shooting also that allowed them to extend the lead. I thought we did some things better but I think you have to complement their second-half effort. Utah State’s second-half effort was very, very good,” Miles said.
To top things off, Bean drilled a wide-open 3-pointer to pass the 75-point threshold for free frozen custard for the fans in attendance.
The Aggies will not have much time to celebrate the win since they have a quick turnaround, playing on Saturday at home against UNLV.
“After the game, I asked the team, ‘how many is that we’ve won in a row?’ They started counting in their head: three, four, five. No that’s one. That’s all we’ve won is just one game. What’s done is done. It is behind us… Let’s continue to make the most of this while really staying laser-focused.”
With the victory, Utah State improves to 14-9 on the season, 5-5 in conference play.