Utah State Comes Up Aces In Las Vegas, Survive UNLV Upset Bid

Jan 13, 2024, 3:35 PM | Updated: Jan 16, 2024, 10:49 am

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – You had to see the final minute to truly comprehend how special a win like this is for Utah State. Words can’t do justice to a game that USU led for only eight seconds.

 No. 20 Utah State needed a miracle comeback and a five-point play in the final seconds but pulled an ace at the perfect time to take down UNLV 87-86.

Utah State (16-1, 4-0) faced the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (8-7, 1-2) at Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, January 13.

RELATED: Utah State Rolls Past Wyoming

Great Osobor hit two free throws with 8.4 seconds on the clock, giving the Aggies the only lead they would need. Osobor’s free throws came after a stunning sequence that saw the Aggies benefit from a possession review, some missed UNLV freebies, and Darius Brown II hitting his only threes of the game in the final 100 seconds of action.

Osobor finished with a 24-point, 14-rebound double-double. Ian Martinez made 6-of-8 threes to finish with 24 points. Brown II finished with 10 points in 39 minutes.

Luis Rodriguez led UNLV with 23 points.

First Half

A month after a 15-point win over then-No. 8 Creighton, UNLV came out of the locker room with great energy against another ranked opponent. The Runnin’ Rebels had three chances at the basket on their first possession after a pair of offensive rebounds.

The Rebels opened up a 6-0 lead before reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Week Mason Falslev weaved through traffic for a lay-in.

RELATED: ‘Rent Still Due’ For No. 20 USU Amidst 13-Game Winning Streak

The lead increased to 11 early in the half as the Aggies struggled to score against an athletic Rebels unit.

Four Ian Martinez threes kept USU close despite the Rebels shooting 61 percent in the opening 12 minutes.

Out of a timeout, an Isaac Johnson catch and shoot three cut the deficit to 33-31 with 7:45 left in the half.

Every time Utah State tried to make a run, Luis Rodriguez seemed to make a play. Rodriguez had three offensive rebounds and a steal while hitting his first five shots to lead the Rebels with 13 points in the opening half.

Seven Aggie turnovers allowed UNLV to lead the entire half, taking a 47-40 lead into the break.

Second Half

UNLV picked up right where it left off in the first half, expanding its advantage to 13 in the opening minutes of the second half.

RELATED: Utah State Soars Into AP Top 25, BYU Tumbles Down Rankings

Unable to get going from the field, Great Osobor began working quicker in the post and got to the free-throw line as a result. The junior wing reached double-digits thanks to a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line early in the half.

Later in the half, good defense from Martinez led to a breakaway, windmill dunk for the senior guard.

The dunk keyed a run that got USU within three, 64-61, with 11:51 to play.

A quick 5-0 Rebel run got the lead back to eight at the under-eight media timeout.

Utah State put in a zone defense that caused problems for UNLV. With the Rebels offense slowed, USU chipped away at the lead. After Osobor hit a driving layup through a foul, the Aggies trailed 78-76 heading into the final media timeout.

Osobor finished the three-point-play after the timeout but UNLV answered with an immediate three on the other end.

Moments later, a long review awarded possession to the Aggies. Darius Brown II took advantage, hitting his first three of the afternoon to make it 83-80 UNLV with 1:33 left.

Utah State forced a miss on the other end and Falslev sprinted into the front court. When nobody got between him and the basket, the freshman guard drove to the bucket for a layup that got his team within one.

After UNLV missed the second of two free throws, Brown II found Osobor in the low post. Osobor’s left-handed floater rolled off and the Aggies were forced to foul.

After a missed free throw and timeout, Brown II hit another three from the wing. While Brown II was shooting, Osobor drew a loose ball foul, resulting in a pair of free throw attempts.

Osobor knocked down both shots, giving Utah State a miracle 87-86 win.

Following USU With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State travels to the Land of Enchantment for a matchup with the New Mexico Lobos (14-3, 2-2) at The Pit on Tuesday, January 16. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (MT). USU is 27-9 all-time against the Lobos, including a 10-6 record in The Pit. The Aggies have won the past six games in the series.

New Mexico beat then-No. 19 San Diego State 88-70 over the weekend.

Listen to USU basketball games on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

Find KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics here.

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Brian Preece is a KSLsports.com insider covering the Utah State Aggies and Salt Lake Bees. Follow Brian’s coverage of the Bees, Big League Utah, and Aggie athletics here.

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Utah State Comes Up Aces In Las Vegas, Survive UNLV Upset Bid