LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – On a night Utah State men’s basketball legend Jaycee Carroll had his No. 20 jersey retired at halftime, it appeared as if Nevada was going to spoil the party.
The Aggies had other ideas, however, as they turned what looked like a lost cause into a comeback for the ages.
Steven Ashworth scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half to help Utah State erase a 21-point deficit and pull away for a 75-66 victory in front of 9,157 fans on Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The 21-point turnaround is the largest comeback victory in program history.
Max Shulga gave the Aggies (21-7, 10-5 Mountain West) the lead for good at 65-64 when he made 1-of-2 free throws with 2:02 to go, igniting an 11-2 game-ending run in the process. The junior guard finished with 13 points and a career-high-tying 10 rebounds for the fourth double-double of his career.
Dan Akin scored on a layup with 1:10 remaining to put Utah State up by three. Akin also finished in double-figure scoring with 12 points, to go along with seven rebounds in 25-plus minutes off the bench.
Over the final 12 minutes of the game, the Wolf Pack (20-7, 10-4 MW) missed 13 of the 14 shots they took from the field. Quite the stark contrast when you consider how Nevada started the game.
Nevada opened the night by connecting on 14 of its first 16 shots from the field, including making all seven from 3-point range, to open a 37-16 advantage with 8:36 left until halftime. However, for the remainder of the game, the Wolf Pack shot 9-for-39 from the field and just 2-for-15 from beyond the arc.
Will Baker was a big reason why Nevada got off to its hot start. After all, he scored the first 22 points of the game for the visitors, going 7-for-7 from the field, including 6-for-6 from 3-point range, and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
The Aggies clamped down defensively on Nevada’s big man, though, as the 7-foot center from Austin, Texas, did not make a field goal the rest of the way as he finished with a game-best 25 points.
Kenan Blackshear was the only other Nevada player to score in double figures as he netted 14 points, to go along with six assists, while Darrion Williams nearly had a double-double with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Taylor Funk also scored in double figures for the Aggies as he finished with 11 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Sean Bairstow added five points and 10 boards.
Behind Baker’s unreal performance during the first five minutes of the game, Nevada cruised out to a 22-4 lead, leaving the Spectrum crowd stunned. But, after the Wolf Pack had built their 21-point cushion, the Aggies went on a 41-20 run to tie the game at 57-apiece with 10:20 to go.
RJ Eytle-Rock capped the run with a driving layup. The 6-4, 225-pound senior guard finished with 10 points on the night to eclipse the 1,000-career-point plateau.
Baker knocked down a pair of free throws 20 seconds later to put Nevada back on top midway through the second half.
Ashworth, who also had six assists, two steals and one rebound, gave the Aggies their first lead of the night when he drilled a 3-pointer with 8:57 to go, making it 60-59. Utah State, which outscored Nevada 43-19 in the second half, never trailed after that.
The Aggies shot 47.3 percent from the field (26-of-55) on the night, but just 25.0 percent from 3-point range (6-of-24). Utah State did, however, connect on 85.0 percent of its foul shots (17-of-20).
For the Wolf Pack, they shot 41.8 percent from the field (23-of-55), including 40.9 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-22), and 73.3 percent from the charity stripe (11-of-15).
The Aggies open a two-game road swing when they head to the Cowboy State to take on Wyoming on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m., in Laramie.