Merrill Leads Aggies To Upset Win Over No. 12 Nevada

Mar 2, 2019, 9:30 PM | Updated: 9:52 pm

LOGAN, Utah – With first place in the Mountain West Conference standings on the line, Utah State came up big with an 81-76 win over No. 12 Nevada.

The Aggies found energy from the crowd as it was the first time that the Spectrum was sold out in four years.

Utah State beat a top 25 team for the first time since 2007.

Sam Merrill exploded for 29 points, including 17 points in the first half. He shot 8-of-19 from the field, 4-for-7 from downtown and 9-for-10 from the free throw line to lead Utah State.

He had the help of Neemias Queta with 13 points and 11 rebounds, Diogo Brito chipped in 15 points and 8 boards off the bench.

Nevada was led by Caleb Martin with 23 points and 9 rebounds, Tre’Shawn Thurman poured in 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Cody Martin contributed 16 points and 7 boards.

Merrill Running The Show

Utah State went on an 8-0 run as Merrill hit back-to-back three-pointers after Queta threw down a dunk. The Aggies had their biggest lead of the game with a 19-12 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half.

Merrill continued his hot shooting as he scored 15 of the Aggies first 23 points of the game. Utah State was up 23-16 with 8 minutes remaining in the opening half.

Nevada went on a 5-0 run to trim the deficit to three with six minutes left in the first half.

Utah State took a 37-33 lead at halftime as Merrill finished the opening slate with 17 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

MORE: Sam Merrill Scores 17 Points To Give USU First Half Lead Over Nevada

Utah State Holds Off Comeback

The Aggies jumped out to a 19-13 advantage in the first 8 minutes of the second half to lead 56-46. They had a 13 point lead for a moment before Nevada answered.

Cody Martin scored a layup to cut the lead to seven with 7 minutes left in the game. Thurman followed up with a layup of his own to cap a 6-0 run, forcing the Aggies to call a timeout with a five point lead.

Diogo Brito stopped a scoring drought that lasted more than three minutes for the Aggies when Nevada was within two points to stretch the lead back to four with 4 minutes left.

With over two minutes left, Nevada lost Thurmond, who fouled out with 21 points.

With one minute left, Justin Bean took a critical charge that gave the Aggies the ball back with a four point lead.

Sam Merrill hit two free throws, but Cody Martin countered with a three-pointer. Right after, he fouled out of the game. Each team to that point had three players fouled out.

Bean nailed two free-throws to push the lead to five, 76-71 with 41 seconds left in the game.

Caleb Martin dunked on Merrill but it was called off and was whistled as an offensive foul.

Nevada had the ball with less than 30 seconds left and a seven point lead for the Aggies when Martin was fouled on a three-pointer. He made all three shots to cut the lead to four with 23 seconds left.

The Wolfpack didn’t get back on defense and Brito had a run out layup to seal the win for the Aggies.

Up Next

Utah State improved to 24-6 overall and 14-3 in the Mountain West Conference, having won five straight and 12 of their last 13 games.

They will face Colorado State on the road in their regular season finale on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on AT&T SportsNet.

The Rams are 12-16 overall and 7-8 in MWC play. The Aggies won the first meeting this season on January 19 in Logan with an 87-72 victory.

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