LOGAN – Utah State won 83-68 in its home opener over Division II Adams State Tuesday night to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Aggies were led by senior guard Chris Smith who scored 21 points. Junior wing Jalen Moore added another 17.
Head coach Tim Duryea said he though the opposing Grizzlies were a difficult matchup.
“I knew that going in,” he said. “They can put four or five guards on the floor. Anytime you are playing a team that does that, it always makes it tough for a traditional Division I team. A lot of times there’s nobody for your post guys to guard.”
The Aggies struggled offensively to start the game and trailed 14-12 just six minutes in. The team hadn’t scored in more than three minutes and had missed its last six shots when redshirt freshman Quinn Taylor ended the drought by pulling in an offensive rebound and putting it back in the basket. Taylor took the lead for USU less than one minute later after putting in another layup off an assist from Grayson Moore. The two buckets helped spark an 18-2 run where USU made 7-of-8 field goals giving the Aggies a 30-16 lead with 7:38 left in the half.
“It gave us a big lead,” Jalen Moore said. “It dug them a big hole, it makes it hard for them to come back.”
The first-half lead peaked right at the end when Chris Smith’s 3-point shot – his third of the half – went in as time expired, giving USU a 47-27 halftime advantage.
“(Shane Rector) got Chris the look right before half,” Duryea said. “There’s not a shot Chris Smith doesn’t really have the ability to make.”
USU wasn’t as sharp in the second half, but was able to maintain a comfortable lead through the end of the game. The Grizzlies outscored the Aggies in the final 20 minutes and cut the lead to 11 with just more than 6 minutes left, but never got any closer.
“Too many defensive mistakes, assignment wise,” Duryea said of the second-half performance. “Just did not like our approach at all in the second half. Too many turnovers, just sloppy.”
“We let them get some easy points,” Jalen Moore said. “We need to work on half-court defense a little bit and finishing out games a little better.”
Both Duryea and Moore said the the team is still adjusting to having to do without David Collette, who unexpectedly quit just two days before the season opener last week.
“He is a big part of our team so I think guys are kind of just getting around the fact that he’s actually not on the team anymore,” Moore said.
“We have an offensive identity that we’ve got to change a little bit,” Duryea said. “It’s going to be a little up-and-down, I think, in that department, as far as our low-post scoring.”
Duryea said it will require some retooling.
“We haven’t had a chance to do that,” he said. “So no, it’s not behind us yet.”
USU will stay in town and play Division II Union (Tenn.) this Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. Duryea called the next opponent a “solid group” that “has had a winning culture for a long time.”