Cold Shooting In Paradise Leads To Utah State Loss

Dec 23, 2022, 7:28 PM | Updated: Dec 25, 2022, 4:29 pm

Ryan Odom USU head coach...

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 8: Head coach Ryan Odom of the Utah State Aggies directs his team during the second half against the BYU Cougars December 8, 2021 at the J. Willard Marriott Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

LOGAN, Utah –Β Utah State couldn’t overcome 36 percent shooting, falling for just the second time this season, 77-74 to SMU.

Utah State (10-2) took on Southern Methodist University (5-7) in Β the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday, December 22.

The Aggies rebounded from their only loss of the season with a dominating second half defensive effort to beat the Seattle Red Hawks 84-56 on Thursday.

SMU surprised Iona, defeating the Gaels 85-81 in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic.

Sean Bairstow and Max Shulga combined to lead the Aggies with 18 points apiece in the loss. Steven Ashworth went 3-of-12 from deep, finishing with 15 points.

Zhuric Phelps led the Mustangs with 19 points and eight rebounds. SMU had four other players score in double figures with Sam Williamson chipping in 15.

RELATED: Defense Keys Utah State Blowout Win Against Seattle

First Half

In stark contrast to the Hawaiian paradise around them, Utah State began the night frigid, missing eight of their first ten shots. SMU took advantage of the poor shooting to go on a 7-0 run, building a 9-5 lead in the process.

Sean Bairstow put a stop to the run when he hit a corner three off a Dan Akin pass.

Bairstow hit his second three of the night tying the score at 11 after a disjointed USU possession.

Another 7-0 Mustang run ended when Akin hit a layup but SMU’s transition offense was giving the Aggie defense fits. SMU had five fast break points and four points off of three Aggie turnovers in the first nine minutes.

USU trailed 18-13 with 10:12 left in the half.

RELATED: Second Half Comeback Helps Weber State Stun USU In Logan

Out of the timeout, the Mustangs exploded for a 9-2 run. SMU took advantage of three Aggie misses and a turnover during the less than two minute explosion. SMU had outscored Utah State 16-4 since Bairstow’s second three.

Samuell Williamson punctuated the run with a fast break throw down that gave SMU a 27-15 lead.

RELATED: Depth Showing Up As Injuries Hit Undefeated Utah State

Steven Ashworth flipped the script with back to back threes as USU went on an 8-0 run of their own. SMU was scoreless for more than 2:20 during the run. Ashworth came into the game averaging a team high 18.1 points per game this season.

Taylor Funk answered an SMU free throw by hitting a driving layup while being fouled. He converted the old fashioned three point play to bring USU with two, 28-26.

In five minutes of game time, Utah State erased a 12-point lead when Trevin Dorius capped an 18-1 run with an offensive rebound putback. SMU went 0-for-6 from the field during the Aggie run that tied the score at 30.

A half of runs continued with SMU taking advantage of sloppy Aggie passing to go up 38-30 with back to back slams.

SMU took a 40-32 lead into the half. Zhuric Phelps led all scorers with 12. Bairstow’s 10 led USU.

The Aggies struggle uncharacteristically, shooting 11-of-36 (30.6 percent) from the field and just 5-of-20 from deep.

Second Half

Dorius came out of the break looking to make a statement.

While his teammates struggled from the field, Dorius capitalized. Taking advantage of some additional touches on the offensive end, Dorius scored four points and gave the Aggies three rebounds and an assist in the opening minutes of the second half.

The Aggies were able to cut the SMU lead to four, 49-45 with 14:58 left.

RELATED: Balanced Utah State Attack Puts Nation On Notice After 9-0 Start

With SMU in front 52-45 and Utah State in desperate need of a spark, Zee Hamoda followed a Funk miss, fighting through traffic with a soft finish to keep the Aggies within striking distance.

The Mustangs went 6:35 without a field goal but held on to their lead because of a frenetic Aggie offense.

The teams traded empty possessions as SMU had a more than three minute long scoreless stretch before Williamson finished a hoop and harm to put SMU in front 57-50.

Later in the half with USU trailing 63-54, Max Shulga hit three free throws. Ashworth quickly followed with his third three of the night and in the blink of an eye, USU turned a nine point deficit into a one possession game.

The Aggies couldn’t sustain momentum however as their half court offense went dormant again just as quickly.

Akin dropped in four free throws down the stretch as Utah State kept the game within one score, 69-66 with 2:17 left.

SMU’s Zach Nutall ended the Aggies dream of a comeback when he hit a left wing three to put the Mustangs in front 74-68 with 23.5 seconds remaining.

Utah State would go on to lose 77-74.

Up Next

Utah StateΒ will faceΒ Washington State on Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25. Tipoff for this game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (MST). This tournament is televised on ESPN Networks.

This game marks the end of Utah State’s non-conference schedule. The Aggies return home to the Spectrum where they face Mountain West Conference opponent Fresno State on New Years Eve, Saturday, December 31.

Every Utah State basketball game can be heard on theΒ KSL Sports ZoneΒ with Scott Garrard on the call.

Coverage of Utah State University Athletics from KSL Sports can be found here.Β 

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

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Cold Shooting In Paradise Leads To Utah State Loss