LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – Utah State is trying to get on a roll in time to impress the NCAA Tournament committee.
Utah State sured looked like a tournament team in a blowout win over UNLV Wednesday night for its fourth straight win.
Steven Ashworth and Max Shulga combined for 46 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and five steals to propel Utah State to a convincing 91-66 victory over the Runnin’ Rebels late Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Ashworth, who hit a late 3-pointer to give USU the lead for good in its 75-71 home victory over UNLV back on Jan. 17, led all scorers on Wednesday with 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. He also had seven assists, helping the Aggies (23-7, 12-5 MW) hand out 16 helpers on 34 made baskets.
Shulga missed just two shots on the night, going 6-for-7 from the field – 3-for-4 from beyond the arc – and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe en route to scoring 19 points, to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
Dan Akin was the only other Aggie to score in double figures as he scored 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor and 3-for-5 at the free throw line.
Elijah Harkless led the Runnin’ Rebels (17-12, 6-11 MW) with 20 points, while Shane Nowell chipped in 10.
A dunk by Akin made it 12-9 for Utah State with 14:14 left in the first half, but UNLV responded with a 6-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Jackie Johnson III that gave the hosts their last lead of the night.
Ashworth answered with a 3-ball of his own to tie it at 15-all with 12:06 to go. Less than two minutes later, senior guard RJ Eytle-Rock knocked down a jumper to give the Aggies the lead back for good.
Utah State led by as many as 15 in the first half and went into the locker room at halftime with a 42-29 advantage.
UNLV opened the second half on a 16-7 run to pare the deficit to 49-45 with 15:56 remaining in the contest, but that’s as close as the Runnin’ Rebels would get the rest of the way.
After seeing UNLV close the gap, USU responded with a 14-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Sean Bairstow had a career-high-tying 10 boards as the Aggies outrebounded the Runnin’ Rebels 36-29.
Utah State shot a sizzling 61.8 percent from the field (34-of-55), including 47.6 percent from beyond the arc (10-of-21), and 81.3 percent from the free throw line (13-of-16).
Defensively, the Aggies held the Runnin’ Rebels to 31.6 percent shooting from the field (18-of-57), including 34.8 percent from 3-point range (8-of-23). UNLV connected on 81.5 percent of its shots from the charity stripe (22-of-27).
Utah State wraps up the regular season at home on Saturday, March 4, against Boise State.