LOGAN — All games need to be played to the finish but for some the result can be seen from far off. Such was Utah State’s 101-48 win over South Dakota Mines in the Aggies season/home opener Monday evening.
The first couple of possessions were the best the Hardrockers had it all night. Their 6-foot-8 forward won the tip against 7-foot Isaac Johnson and then Alejandro Rama drilled a mid-range jumper for the visitors. South Dakota Mines even responded to USU’s 3-pointer on the other end with a pair of baskets to go up 6-3.
Cue the dominance of Utah State in this one.
The Aggies exploded for a 16-0 run, propelling them to a double-digit lead that never came back to single digits.
Great Osobor, playing for the first time in an Aggie uniform after missing the team’s exhibition last Friday, factored heavily into that run. He scored the first seven points of that 16-point run, making a turnstile of the South Dakota Mines’ post defenders to create open shots at the rim nearly at will. At other times Osobor took rebounds or steals and dribbled the ball up the court himself, even going one-on-one with guys on the perimeter and scoring.
“He’s a really good player. He’s different,” Sprinkle said. “When you see him and you see this guy who’s 6-8, 250, you don’t expect him to move like that and play where he can handle the ball. He can lead the break and make some good passes.”
Utah State head coach Danny Sprinkle had mentioned after the exhibition game that Osobor would make a difference, and he was right.
Mason Falslev and Josh Uduje also got in on the growing first-half lead. Falslev ended the half with a team-leading 13 points with Uduje not far behind at 10.
By halftime, Utah State held a 26-point lead, 51-26.
In the second half, the Aggies didn’t let up in the absolute slightest. The 26-point advantage would literally be doubled before the end of the game, topping out at 56. Falslev and Uduje continued their dominant scoring to push the first part of that second-half push. Uduje ended up a perfect 8-for-8 shooting with a team-high 19 points.
“Hopefully he can keep it up. He’s got a lot to live up to now. He hasn’t missed a shot all year,” Sprinkle jokingly, then adding: “It’s great to see him get rewarded for the work that he’s been putting in shooting-wise. He’s an awesome kid.”
Falslev had 17 points to go with five rebounds, five assists and four steals, building on his great debut in the exhibition where he scored 23 with seven rebounds and four assists.
“He’s a lot different in games than practices,” Sprinkle said of Falslev. “He sees that crowd, he’s a gamer. He’s just flying around out there.”
One of the things that stood out about some of the leading scorers is that not only did they get points, but also racked up steals. Uduje had a pair of steals, Falslev had his four, Darius Brown had three. Sprinkle said it’s not a coincidence that that happened and that getting those steals is “why they were leading scorers. They’re getting steals and getting out on the break.”
This game served as a time the Aggies could improve on some of the shortcomings of the exhibition game and Sprinkle said he felt the team improved on many of those things. One improvement Sprinkle has been wanting to see all preseason is to not have the ball not “stick” in player’s hands in the half court. That didn’t happen in any way on Monday as the Aggies got 26 assists.
“(Getting) 26 assists is just a testament an unselfish team and a team that’s willing to move the ball and get everybody involved in the game,” Uduje said. “If you can have 26 assists every game, who’s going to stop that?”
The end of the game served as a chance for guys not in the regular rotation to play more minutes. Guys like Jackson Grant and Landon Brenchley. The crowd and starters, then on the bench, went wild as these guys made plays. In the end, every Aggie that saw the floor made at least one field goal and scored at least four points.
Utah State now moves on to face Bradley on Saturday. It’ll be the first time this crew has faced a Division I opponent after facing two straight D2 squads. It’ll be a step up on competition, one that’ll cause hardships the Aggies will need to overcome.
“We’ve been coaching them all summer and all fall preparing them for what’s going to happen on Saturday (against Bradley),” Sprinkle said. “We’re going to have that next play mentality. We’re going to see some adversity on Saturday. We’re going to see them go on some 5-0 runs, 6-0 runs and then we’ve got to be able to execute and get back on track and have those 5-0, 6-0 runs on our own.”