USU puts on offensive clinic in blowout win over San Diego – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN — Those who like offense got a more-than-healthy dose of it in Utah State’s 108-81 victory over San Diego. The Aggies set a new season-high in points and were able to put all 13 non-redshirting players on the floor.

The 108 points is the most Utah State has scored since a 129-61 win over Eastern Oregon in 2019 and is the highest point total in a game against a Division I opponent since 1991 (111-88 vs UC Irvine).

“It boosts our confidence for next games,” USU guard Ian Martinez said of the great scoring night. “We know we got to defend home court, so it’s always pretty fun to come out here and give the people a good show. It’s really enjoyable.”

Utah State’s previous season-high for points in a half was 51 (against South Dakota Mines) and the team blew by that mark in both halves Wednesday with 53 in the first and 55 in the second. No single Aggie carried an inordinate scoring load as four players reached double-figures, 10 players had at least six points, and all 13 guys that saw the floor scored at least two points.

Although many players that normally don’t see the floor were able to get in at the end, Sprinkle reached deep into his rotation early in the game. Kalifa Sakho and Javon Jackson returned to the floor after two games of not coming off the bench, and Jackson Grant saw his first non-blowout minutes, seeing a roughly two-minute stint in the first half.

“We have to be a strength in numbers team. We have to be able to have multiple guys scoring on different nights,” Sprinkle said. “It’s gonna get tougher and and that’s why we need everybody engaged when they’re coming off to bench. They’ve got to be ready to guard. They have to know scouting report details and all that. And that’s what I’m most proud of with everybody that played, they were executing.”

The first few minutes of the game actually saw some decent competition, with San Diego taking a couple of leads early on and actually holding those leads for nearly four total minutes. At the 15:88 mark of the first half, the Toreros took a 12-8 lead and Sprinkle had serious concerns about the way his team played the first four minutes of the game.

“Didn’t think we were playing hard enough,” Sprinkle said. “San Diego’s a dangerous team. They came out and started whapping threes where you know we weren’t we weren’t playing hard enough.”

USU’s response to that 12-8 lead built by San Diego was to go on a 15-0 run, blowing the game wide open and setting the game on the course for a blowout.

According to Sprinkle, the key to the offensive explosion came down to playing much better defense. In those first few possessions, the Toreros were able to get easy looks and made them. Wayne McKinney hit a couple of early shots that helped San Diego get its early lead.

But after a 4 for 6 start from the field by San Diego, the Aggies held it to just 10 of 25 on field goals the rest of the half and forced eight turnovers in the same 16-minute span. Those turnovers especially provided quite a boost as USU got 23 points off turnovers alone and had 10 fast break points (eight of those in the first half).

“The offense was great because our defense,” Sprinkle said. “When we got stops, that’s when we got out in transition. We got the ball to the rim and got some layups and some fouls. When you’re guarding and getting stops, it’s way easier to play against a team in transition defense than it is when they score and stop the ball where they get their defense set.”

Sprinkle had his own goals regarding turnovers for his own offense, telling his team he wanted to see fewer than 10. The Aggies didn’t quite keep it under that mark, landing exactly on 10 for the night. Regardless, it’s tied for the second-lowest turnover rate for USU this season.

Mason Falslev ended up leading the Aggies in scoring for a second straight game. He ended with 17 points and was followed by Great Osobor (14), Ian Martinez (13) and Nigel Burris (10). Darius Brown once again led Utah State in assists with six, although he played just 21 minutes, getting more rest due to the Aggies’ ever-increasing lead in the second half. Falslev, Osobor and Max Agbonkpolo tied for the team lead in rebounds with four each.

This game is the second of a three-game home stand. Playing in front of the fans for several straight games after going nearly three weeks without a home game has been a boon for the Aggies.

“It’s really nice,” Martinez said. “We get a little bit more more rest since we don’t have to travel and get back on our feet come here, defend the home court, do what we got to do and stay focused. I think it’s it helped us for the future, just keep building.”

Utah State’s next game will be on Saturday as it hosts Division II side Northwest Nazarene. The Nighthawks are at 4-4 so far in their season and will be the second D2 team the Aggies will host this year.

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