LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – Something special seems to happen to Utah State when they play at the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

The Aggies have played in the last three championship games, winning two of them, and they opened this year’s tournament with a blowout win over Air Force Wednesday night.

Brandon Horvath had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead five Utah State players in double figures.

Justin Bean added 16 points for the Aggies and Max Shulga, Sean Bairstow and Steven Ashworth had 11 each.

“I thought our guys stuck to the game plan throughout,” said head coach Ryan Odom. “I thought our guys did a really nice job offensively especially in the first half. I thought Brandon obviously was huge, he wouldn’t be up sitting up here if he wasn’t throughout, but it was a balanced attack.”

The 27-point margin of victory is the largest in tournament history for Utah State, topping its previous high of 26 in 2017 over San José State.

The 7th-seeded Aggies will take on 2nd-seeded Colorado State in the quarterfinals Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.

“I think my teammates were just looking for me,” said Horvath, who made 8 of 12 shots from the field. “We knew going into the game that they switched everything on defense. I just kept rolling the guards into the post and my teammates just kept finding me and I just got going.”

After being knotted at 2-2 a little more than two minutes into the game, free throws from Bairstow kickstarted a seven-point run for the Aggies as USU took a 9-2 lead and never looked back.

The Falcons trimmed the edge to 16-15, but an 8-2 run by USU pushed the lead to 24-17 with 8:03 to go in the first. The game went back and forth until layups from senior guard RJ Eytle-Rock and Horvath, as well as a Bairstow free throw, gave Utah State the 38-27 lead at the half.

Utah State held onto the double-digit lead for the entirety of the second half. A Bairstow one-handed slam and triples from Bean and Shulga gave USU the 67-39 edge with 8:49 to play. USU took its largest lead of the game at 72-41 following a Bean layup with 6:11 remaining.

A 9-2 Air Force run cut the Aggie advantage to 75-53 with 3:17 to go. However, Utah State countered with eight-straight points, capped by a step-back 3 from sophomore guard Connor Odom, his first collegiate points, giving the Aggies a 30-point edge.

Utah State finished the game shooting 53.7 percent (29-of-54) from the field, 42.9 percent (9-of-21) from behind the arc and 76.2 percent (16-of-21) at the free throw line. Air Force shot 45.1 percent (23-of-51) from the floor, 21.4 percent (3-of-14) from behind the 3-point line and 63.6 percent (7-of-11) at the free throw line.