UTAH STATE AGGIES

Cardiac Kids: Utah State Completes Thrilling Win Over UNLV

Jan 17, 2023, 9:10 PM
utah-state-forward-taylor-funk...
USU senior forward Taylor Funk dunks against Santa Clara at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Monday, November 14.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State overcame 12 second-half turnovers, escaping the Spectrum with a 75-71 win over the visiting UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

Utah State (15-4, 4-2) hosted the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (12-6, 1-5) at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Tuesday, January 17.

USU played without point guard Rylan Jones who missed his third consecutive game while remaining in concussion protocol after being injured in the second half against Boise State.

The Aggies lost their most recent game, getting thrashed in the second half of an 85-70 loss at Nevada. USU played without point guard Rylan Jones who missed his third consecutive game while remaining in concussion protocol after being injured in the second half against Boise State.

The Rebels dropped a heart-breaker at home against Colorado State in their last game. falling 82-81 in overtime. The Rams used a mid-court heave to force overtime after trailing the Rebels by four with eight seconds remaining.

RELATED: Nevada Defense Spurs Second Half Run, USU Loses Again On Road

Taylor Funk led the Aggies with 20 points. All 20 came in the first half for Funk. Steven Ashworth scored 14 and Trevin Dorius rounded out the Aggie double-digit scorers with 10.

Keyshawn Hall led UNLV with 19 points. Jordan McCabe added 17 while Keshon Gilbert scored 14 in the loss.

First Half

Trevin Dorius had a significant height advantage over the Rebel starting five. In the first five minutes, USU took advantage of the matchup, going to Dorius early and often in the opening minutes. The 7’1 Aggie center would score nine points in four minutes of play, going 4-of-4 from the field and drawing a foul.

Dorius’ play helped Utah State to an early 12-4 lead.

Despite the size advantage, USU struggled to keep UNLV out of the paint. The Rebels scored 12 of their first 14 points in the paint, taking advantage of their athleticism on the perimeter.

RELATED: Road Woes, Late Game Execution Remain Question Marks For Utah State

Later in the half, it was the Taylor Funk Show when the grad-transfer senior knocked down threes on three consecutive possessions, igniting the Spectrum crowd and giving USU a 38-32 lead. Funk’s outburst sparked an 11-0 Aggie run.

Funk made six threes in the half, leading the Aggies with 20 points. Trevin Dorius added 10 points. Ashworth had seven first half assists.

Keyshawn Hall led UNLV with with 13 first half points.

Second Half

Out of the break, five Aggie turnovers in less than three minutes allowed UNLV to go on a 8-0 run to get within three, 46-45.

USU scored their first basket of the half, a Dan Akin dunk, at the 15:56 mark.

Later in the half with the Aggies clinging to a 50-49 lead, Ashworth knocked down his second three of the game. Two possessions later, his short floater forced UNLV to call a timeout.

With Utah State missing six of seven shots and going scoreless for nearly three minutes, the defense needed to make a play. Back-to-back rejections from Funk gave the Aggie faithful something to cheer about. USU led 62-55 with 7:50 left.

RELATED: Akin, Bairstow Leads Utah State To Blowout Win Over Cowboys

The cold stretch continued as USU scored just three points in 4:46 of gametime. Poor execution and turnovers on the offensive end allowed UNLV to comeback, eventually taking a 66-65 lead with 3:55 left.

Out of the last media timeout, Akin finished a three-point play to give the Aggies a 68-66 lead.

A Jordan McCabe three gave UNLV a short-lived lead. On the other end, Ashworth tickled the twine from deep, giving USU a two-point lead with a one minute remaining.

With the Aggies in front by two and just two seconds on the shot clock, head coach Ryan Odom drew up a great play to free Sean Bairstow. Bairstow was wide open when he caught the in-bounds pass at the free throw line, where he calmly hit the jumper to give USU a 73-69 advantage with 22 seconds remaining.

After two UNLV free throws, Utah State ran nearly eight seconds off the clock as the Rebels scrambled to foul. They would eventually send Max Shulga to the line. Shulga calmly knocked down both free throws, giving USU the 75-71 win.

Up Next

The Aggies will face the San Jose State Spartans (12-6, 3-2) on Saturday, January 21. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. (MST) matinee.

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

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

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Cardiac Kids: Utah State Completes Thrilling Win Over UNLV