LOGAN — The energy that has been sorely missing from Utah State basketball returned in a big way on Saturday night. Utah State (12-10, 4-3) never trailed and cruised by San Jose State University (7-15, 0-7) 82-65 in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,270 in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The Aggies were sparked in the first half by Mitch Bruneel. The sophomore guard from Boise did not even see the floor on Thursday against University of Hawaii, but he came off the bench in a big way Saturday, hitting four consecutive 3-pointers midway through the first half to carry the Utah State University offense. Bruneel finished with a career-high 15 points after having only scored 14 combined points in the Aggies' seven previous contests.
“It felt like everything was going to go in,” Bruneel said. “Everything that left my hand was right on line.”
Bruneel did most of the damage from deep in the first half, with guards Brockeith Pane and Preston Medlin chipping in as well to give the Aggies eight makes from beyond the arc in the first half, helping Utah State to a 47-34 advantage at the break.
“Mitch gave us a real good lift the way he shot the ball,” Pane said. “I guess him not playing Thursday must have upset him. I guess he spent some extra time in the gym by himself and you could tell.”
While Bruneel supplied the firepower in the first half, Pane and Kyisean Reed had the fireworks in the second half. Reed finished the game with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds, including converting on five different conventional 3-point plays.
“My offense is no matter what, get the ball in the hole,” said Reed. “Whether he fouls me or not, try and get the ball in the hole.”
Reed also finished with three blocks, tying his career high as well as recording his team-leading 22nd dunk of the season.
While Bruneel and Reed were steady, the highlight of the night belonged to Pane. With the Aggies in the middle of a 13-0 run, Pane started a fast break coming up with a steal and then finished the sequence on the receiving end of an ally-oop dunk from Medlin. The dunk pushed the game to a 10-point lead, and by the time the run was finished, Utah State had stretched a two-point game into a nearly insurmountable 15-point advantage with a bit more than five minutes left.
“That’s never happened. Preston to Brock for a lob dunk, who knew? Never seen that before,” head coach Stew Morrill joked after the game.
Pane finished with 15 points and six assists while guiding the Aggies to a season-low six turnovers and a season-high 82 points.
The win gives the Aggies much-needed momentum heading into a crucial road trip next week that starts with league-leading University of Nevada on Thursday night. The Wolf Pack (18-3, 7-0) beat Louisiana Tech in other Western Athletic Conference action to keep their undefeated WAC record intact.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be reached at DesNewsKraig@gmail.com or followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.
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