leads USU to 12th consecutive victory
By Tim Olsen
January 22, 2009 | The Utah State men's basketball
was impressive early and even more impressive down the
stretch as the Aggies pulled away from the Boise State
Broncos Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home, 79-65.
For the second straight game USU's leading scorer,
Gary Wilkinson, was held in check, but the Aggies' other
post presence, Tai Wesley, made up for it in a big way.
Wesley finished with 26 points, one shy of matching
his career high, on 9-of-12 shooting to lead all scorers.
"We came out tonight and we were excited and ready,"
USU head coach Stew Morrill said. "It's nice that we
can win a basketball game without Gary having a great
night. That should be reassuring to all of our players
that we can do that."
Junior sharpshooter Jared Quayle got things started
for the Aggies as he nailed a three-pointer just over
30 seconds in. Tyler Newbold joined in the action as
well, knocking down his first couple shots as the Ags
jumped out to a 12-3 lead.
However, the Broncos, 12-4 on the season coming into
the matchup and coming off their first loss in more
than a month, would fight back.
Junior guard Anthony Thomas drained a three-pointer
with 11:15 to play in the first half, knotting the game
at 17. Minutes later, the Broncos took their first lead
when sophomore forward Paul Noonan joined in the long-range
barrage, putting Boise State up 24-22.
Thomas, who was relentlessly hounded by Aggie fans
throughout the game because of remarks he made after
the Broncos' upset USU in last year's WAC tournament,
would struggle the rest of the game and finish well
below his season average. He finished with five points
and two turnovers on 1-of-6 shooting.
Shortly after the Broncos took the lead, the Aggies
responded and again jumped out in front. Quayle and
Wesley each completed a three-point-play the old-fashioned
way, and the Ags went on a 10-0 run to push the lead
back to nine.
Boise State worked to close the gap before halftime,
but a crazy series of events in the final seconds sent
the Aggies into the locker room leading by double digits,
With the Broncos holding for the last shot, freshman
guard Jaxon Myaer was whistled for a foul with 8.1 seconds
to play. The foul was USU's eighth, and sent Thomas
to the free throw line for the Broncos. Thomas missed
the front end of the one-and-one situation, and that's
when the real craziness ensued.
Wesley grabbed the rebound for the Aggies and drove
to the other end of the court. As he was working for
the final shot, Thomas stripped the ball but was unable
to corral it. The loose ball bounced right back to Wesley
who launched a prayer from just inside the half-court
line as the buzzer sounded. The Spectrum erupted as
the ball found nothing but net and sent the elated Aggies
into the break up by 10.
On the season Wesley is shooting a phenomenal 66.1
percent from the floor, good for No. 17 in the nation,
but after his prayer was answered against the Broncos,
he joked that he should be given more freedom from beyond
"I think coach would let me start shooting them more,"
Wesley said about 3-pointers. "He should give me the
green light. I'm going to have to talk to him about
The bomb made him 1-of-1 from three-point land on
the season, and 2-of-2 for his Aggie career -- or 100
"Jaycee (Carroll) should call me for tips. I'm a pretty
good tip giver too," Wesley added with a smile.
Similar to the first half, the second half was a half
of runs. Boise was able to pull even with the Aggies
early in the period only to see USU extend its lead
back to 10 with just over 10 minutes to play.
"We just came out with an edge to us, excited, energized
and ready to play," Morrill said. "It's like I told
them before the game, 'If you can't go enjoy playing
college basketball in front of that crowd, in that environment,
you've probably got the heart of a hummingbird.' That's
not a very big heart -- it took them a minute to get
Unlike previous games this season though, the Aggies
did not allow the Broncos to hang around any longer.
Wesley kept pounding away inside and a three-pointer
by Quayle with 4:45 to play gave the Ags a 15-point
lead -- their biggest of the game.
"When we get up, it's natural just to kind of relax
because you're up," Wesley said. "We didn't want to
do that this game, we didn't want to let it come down
to free throws at the end, overtime, or a tip-in --
we wanted to keep our lead and that's what we were able
to do in the second half.
Quayle tickled the twine one more time from long range
with just over 1:30 to play to ice the game and keep
the Aggies unbeaten in conference play. He finished
with 18 points and five rebounds, and Wilkinson also
reached double figures with 10 points.
The Aggies have now won 12 games in a row, which is
the third longest active winning streak in the nation
behind Wake Forest (16) and St. Mary's (14).
That streak will be greatly tested this week as the
Aggies hit the road to take on conference foes San Jose
State and Hawaii -- a road swing the Aggies were swept
on last season.
"I think we have a big week ahead of us that will
really show our true colors," Wesley said. "We should
be ready, we're excited to redeem ourselves."