No. 22 Utah State Shows Depth In Wire-To-Wire Win Over Air Force

Mar 1, 2024, 11:05 PM

Dee Glen Smith Spectrum...

The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, home of the Utah State Aggies, prior to a men's basketball game against UNLV on January 17, 2023.

LOGAN, Utah – Few teams can withstand the night Great Osobor just had as No. 22 Utah State’s leading scorer this season. With Osobor surrounded by Falcons defenders all night, USU turned to its stable of depth and experience to pay the rent in a 72-60 win.

Air Force (9-19, 2-14) put up a fight but couldn’t match the No. 22 Aggies (24-5, 12-4)  down the stretch in a win that keeps Utah State cemented in the Mountain West’s top spot with two games to play.

Ian Martinez scored 21 points, carrying the scoring load with the Aggie big man struggling to get touches. Josh Uduje started for the second straight game, finishing with 11 points and four rebounds. Darius Brown II and Mason Falslev each scored ten.

Ethan Taylor scored 15 points to lead the Falcons.

First Half

Utah State came out of the gates with great energy. The Aggies defense held Air Force without a basket for nearly three minutes, keying a 7-0 run to take a 16-8 lead at the first media timeout. Ian Martinez sparked the team with five points, three boards, and a steal in the opening seven minutes.

RELATED: Utah State Vaults Into Top 25

The lead ballooned to 13 when Martinez powered his way to the basket for an and-one layup.

Struggling to get started on the offensive end, Great Osobor pinned a Falcon shot against the glass. The block sparked a fast break that Javon Jackson turned into a three-point play late in the half.

USU held a 43-30 halftime lead. Martinez led all scorers with 14 points. Rytis Petraitis had ten points for Air Force.

The Falcons hit 13-of-26 shots (50 percent) while the Aggies were on fire throughout the period, connecting on 17-of-29 field goals (58.6 percent).

Second Half

Air Force took advantage of an Aggie offense stuck in the mud after the break, cutting the deficit to single digits before the first media timeout of the half.

RELATED: ‘Confident’ Darius Brown II Sets Tone For No. 22 Utah State

Utah State lost Osobor to an injury when a flagrant foul sent the junior barreling into an Air Force defender face-first. With Osobor out, USU maintained its lead, taking a 56-48 lead into the under-12-minute timeout.

The Aggies’ depth showed their depth and versatility, turning to its defense to take control of the action, holding the Falcons without a field goal for 7:21 of game time.

Osobor returned with 8:05 left, a bandage over his right eye, and Utah State leading 59-48. The advantage quickly expanded to 67-51 with less than five minutes to play.

USU held on down the stretch for a 72-60 win.

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No .22 Utah State heads back to California on Wednesday, March 6, for a matchup with the San Jose State Spartans (9-20, 2-14). Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. MT. USU holds a lopsided 67-19 advantage in the all-time series with SJSU. Utah State bested the Spartans in Logan to close January with an 82-61 win.

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, Locals in MLB, and Salt Lake Bees. Follow Brian’s Bees, Beehive baseball, and Aggie athletics coverage here.

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No. 22 Utah State Shows Depth In Wire-To-Wire Win Over Air Force