No. 16 Utah State Defense Falters As Winning Streak Ends Against New Mexico

Jan 16, 2024, 11:04 PM | Updated: 11:10 pm

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 13: Rob Whaley Jr. #5 of the UNLV Rebels shoots against Ian Martinez #4 and Karson Templin #24 of the Utah State Aggies in the first half of a game at the Thomas & Mack Center on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State is more than familiar with the phenomena of an infectious home-crowd environment. Stacking big plays as the home crowd grows frothier with each defensive stop. Unfortunately for the Aggie’s 15-game winning streak, USU was on the other side of the spectrum on Tuesday night, no pun intended, falling 99-86 to New Mexico.

No. 16 Utah State (16-2, 4-1) took on the New Mexico Lobos (15-3, 3-2) on Tuesday, January 16.

RELATED: USU Vaults Up AP Top 25, While BYU Falls Two Spots

Ian Martinez led the Aggies with 22 points, including 14 straight at one point in the second half. Freshman Mason Falslev added 19 points and nine rebounds, Great Osobor chipped in 15, and Darius Brown II had 11 points and five assists. Josh Uduje came off the bench to score 13 points and provide significant energy.

Jr. Joseph paced the Lobos six double-figure scorers with 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting. Donovan Dent added 15 points and 14 assists. New Mexico finished with 12 steals in the win.

First Half

Trailing 7-6 in an action-packed start, Great Osobor blocked a Donovan Dent layup attempt off the glass. Isaac Johnson grabbed the rebound and found a streaking Ian Martinez for a fast break bucket that gave the Aggies a one-point lead three minutes in.

USU couldn’t take advantage of four offensive rebounds before the first timeout as they missed  8-of-12 shots during the same period. Mason Falslev scored six early points, but UNM led 11-8 at the first media timeout.

RELATED: Osobor Adds Mountain West Accolade To Trophy Case

Minutes later, Osobor’s first basket quieted the crowd after a mini 4-0 Lobo run.

Like the Aggie’s first half in Las Vegas, USU struggled to match the home team’s energy and fell behind by eight points before Josh Uduje’s three-point play cut the deficit to 22-17 with 11:55 left.

It was all Lobos as USU tried to weather the storm as the crowd got more involved with every Aggie turnover.

Six New Mexico steals were evidence of a swarming defense that spearheaded an attack that sent Utah State into the under-four timeout trailing 46-33.

The onslaught continued as UNM built a 55-39 halftime lead.

Second Half

USU’s defense picked up to start the second half, forcing three Lobo turnovers, but couldn’t cut into the lead because of New Mexico defenders’ overwhelming length and tenacity.

RELATED: Great Osobor Showing Maturity During Winning Streak

After Brown II went to the bench early in the half favoring his knee, Martinez hit back-to-back-to-back threes to keep the Aggies alive.

A heat-check three on the next possession bounced off, but Jaelen House committed his fourth foul on the shot. The foul sent Martinez to the line and House to the bench in foul trouble.

The Costa Rican senior scored 14 straight, forcing a New Mexico timeout, trailing 71-62 with 12:54 to play.

The Aggies cut the gap to seven, but New Mexico answered with a series of defensive stops to take an 83-72 advantage.

With the Lobos maintaining a double-figure lead, Aggie Nation held its collective breath when Osobor, the defending Mountain West Player of the Week, took a hard fall and came up grabbing at his left knee. Osobor left under his own power and did not return.

USU’s winning streak ended with a 99-86 loss.

Following USU With KSL Sports Zone

The Aggies return to the Spectrum for a date with the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-9, 1-3) on Saturday, January 20. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. (MT).

USU has controlled the series with Fresno in recent years, going 8-2 in the past ten games, and is 43-26 all-time against the Bulldogs. Utah State has a 26-8 record at home against Fresno State.

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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No. 16 Utah State Defense Falters As Winning Streak Ends Against New Mexico