Utah State Ends NCAA Tournament Drought, Downs TCU In First Round

Mar 22, 2024, 10:53 PM

isaac johnson...

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 22: Isaac Johnson #20 of the Utah State Aggies reacts after a shot against the TCU Horned Frogs during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 22, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana— It only took 40 minutes to erase the Utah State Aggies’ double-digit losing streak in the NCAA Tournament. More than 20 years in the making since its 2001 win over Ohio State, USU lives to fight another day after beating the TCU Horned Frogs 88-72. The win ended a ten-game losing streak in the Big Dance for the Aggies.

Eight-seed Utah State faced nine-seed TCU in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The Aggies advance to face Midwest Region No. 1 seed Purdue.

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Isaac Johnson saved his best for March, scoring a career-high 19 points and four blocked shots. Ian Martinez led all scorers with 21 points. Great Osobor added 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Darius Brown II finished with a 10-point, 10-assist double-double in the Aggies largest NCAA Tournament margin of victory in program history.

Utah State shot 55 percent from the field in the second half.

JaKobe Coles scored 19 points to lead the Horned Frogs.

First Half

Mason Falslev scored four early points in transition but the Horned Frogs hit two threes to build an 11-8 lead four minutes in.

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Great Osobor started to get going, hitting three shots, including an athletic and-one finish that kept the Aggies close. In the opening eight and a half minutes, TCU shot 53 percent (8-of-15 FG).

Both teams went cold in the middle portion of the half. TCU missed five straight shots while the Aggies went more than two and a half minutes without scoring before the under-eight-minute timeout.

USU took its first lead on a Darius Brown II layup with 7:31 left in the half. That bucket started a string of seven consecutive makes as the Aggies took a 37-35 lead.

Brown hit a three for a 9-0 run, giving USU a 43-35 lead with 1:03 left. The Aggies went on to take a 43-37 halftime lead.

Osobor and Ian Martinez lead the Aggies with nine points apiece. Osobor added five rebounds and three assists in a solid all-around start. Emmanuel Miller had 11 points to lead all scorers.

Second Half

Isaac Johnson took advantage of his size, scoring six points in the paint to open the second half. Brown II had four assists on four made field goals as USU took a 51-46 lead into the first media timeout.

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Johnson’s hot streak continued with back-to-back threes, giving his team a ten-point lead. The second triple gave the seven-footer a career-high 17 points.

Martinez hit the Aggies sixth three of the second half, giving them a 62-53 lead with 11:41 to play.

Moments later, Brown hit a deep three, and Utah State seized the momentum and a 12-point lead.

The advantage ballooned to 15 as USU made 57.9 percent (11-19 FG) in the first 12 minutes of the half.

Later in the period leading by 14, blocks from Osobor and Johnson turned a TCU scoring chance into free throws on the other end after a foul call on the rebound.

USU held on for the 88-72 win.

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The eighth-seeded Aggies advance to face the Midwest Region No. 1 seed Purdue Boilermakers on Sunday, March 24. The Boilermakers went 29-4 and finished the season ranked third in the final AP Top 25 poll. Utah State is 0-1 all-time against Purdue, losing 85-64 in November 2016.

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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Utah State Ends NCAA Tournament Drought, Downs TCU In First Round