LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – After feasting on the bottom of the Mountain West Conference early in the season, Utah State has proven it is a legitimate title contender.
Steven Ashworth scored a career-high 17 points, as the Aggies completed a 36-hour two-game sweep over San Diego State for its 10th straight victory, 64-59.
Utah State is now 8-0 in the Mountain West, tied with Boise State atop the standings.
Neemias Queta recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with five blocks and four assists, while Brock Miller added 11 points for the Aggies.
“That was a heck of a game,” said Utah State head coach Craig Smith. “You could feel the energy in the gym today, [the fans] certainly helped will us tonight. San Diego State played really well. They’re very good, they play tough and they’re tough-minded. I was really proud of how we responded.”
Trailing 32-22 at the half, Utah State opened the second half on a 15-2 run to take a 37-34 lead on a three-pointer by Brock Miller.
San Diego State, playing without leading scorer Matt Mitchell, who injured his knee in Thursday’s 57-45 Utah State victory, battled back behind Jordan Schakel (11 points) and Terrell Gomez (16 points).
But Utah State made 13 free throws in the final seven minutes to hold on. Ashworth was a perfect 8 for 8 from the charity stripe.
“Great game today, a great team win,” Ashworth said. “I think that was the definition of a team win, a lot of guys stepping up, a lot of guys making plays. The first half wasn’t the first half we anticipated or hoped for, but we came back in the second half with a pretty good response. The crowd really got behind us, it’s always great to be in the Spectrum.”
Alphonso Anderson had nine points and seven rebounds, including a crucial tip-in with 3:30 left to give the Aggies a four point lead.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Smith said. “The first half got off to a good start, then we were not good in any phase the last 10 minutes. Turnovers were killing us on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end, we had no pace. We looked like we had no direction. We had a deer in the headlights look, and that’s a credit to San Diego State. They were very aggressive and took us out of some of our stuff, then they ramped it up another notch. That affected our defense, some of that was catastrophic turnovers where our offense was their best offense. We lost a little bit of our will on the defensive end.”
Queta fouled out with over two minutes left, but the Aggies, despite committing 16 turnovers, were able to hold on behind another solid defensive effort.
San Diego State shot just 41.1 percent from the field, while the Aggies out-rebounded the Aztecs, 39-32.
Miller and Ashworth each hit three 3-pointers, while the rest of the team was just 1 for 9 from beyond the arc.
The 10-game winning streak matches the longest in the Craig Smith era.
The 59 points scored by San Diego State are its second-fewest in a game this season behind the 45 points it scored against Utah State on Thursday. It is also the first time the Aztecs have been held under 60 points in consecutive games since the 2016-17 season, when they scored under 60 points in each of their final four Mountain West games.
Utah State (11-3, 8-0 MWC) next plays at Colorado State Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.