by Daniel Olsen
Not all wins are created equal. Such was the case in the doubleheader against the Nevada Wolfpack as the Aggies won a 75-72 nail biter on Friday. Then, they ran the same team out of the building in an 87-66 victory on Sunday night. The Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum was not filled to capacity but the Utah State Aggies players played to their full capacity on Friday and Senior Night on Sunday.
Game 1: Get your nitroglycerin pills
The Aggies built a double-digit lead in the first half. After leading 41-25 at the break, the Aggies were outscored by 13 in the second half and had to rely on a few clutch shots to stave off the upset.
The best player of the game was a toss-up between Justin Bean and Neemias Queta. Both players had double-double performances on the night. Bean had 19 points and 10 rebounds while Queta had 16 points and 17 rebounds. Queta, star big man for the Aggies, also had three blocks on the night.
The clutch shooting from the charity stripe helped the Aggies clinch the victory as they made four of six in the final minute. Steven Ashworth, the freshman sharpshooter, was especially exceptional with three of four free throws on the game. All were made in the final minute. Ashworth leads the team with 88.6 percent from the free throw line.
With this win, the Aggies tied Boise following their loss to the Aztecs on Thursday night.
Game 2: Win on Senior Night
The Aggies were ready to honor seniors Alphonso Anderson and Kuba Karwowski on a Sunday Night feast of Aggie basketball. Amidst a sea of Aggie blue, and some colorful chairs to socially distance the fans, the Aggies found a way to win the game in significant fashion.
While Bean and Queta had a pair of double-doubles again, the game ball has to go to the seniors who have put in so much effort over their four years as Aggies. Anderson capped the night off with 12 points and 2 rebounds. Karwowski did get on the board with a layup in the final minutes of the game as well.
With this win, the Aggies moved up to third place in the Mountain West standings as Boise State was swept in San Diego by the Aztecs. The Aggies are now 13-4 in the Mountain West and 16-7 on the season. They will look to add two more wins to their tournament portfolio when they host Wyoming on Thursday and travel to Fresno State on Saturday. Due to COVID cancellations, these games are being made up from their original dates.
The Aggies are currently projected to be just on the outside looking in as Joe Lunardi has them as one of the First Four Out. That means if the season ended today, the Aggies would be projected to not make the NCAA Tournament and get a one seed in the NIT.
This is an improvement from the previous week when they were swept by Boise State and fell to the Next Four Out. While the NIT would be an adventure for a talented Aggie team, this team would love nothing better than to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. If they sweep their games this week and put in some work in the conference tournament, they will have a solid case.
Featured image courtesy Eli Lucero/Herald Journal