Each of the past two years, the Utah-Utah State basketball games weren't decided until the final buzzer as each team took victories at home.
Wednesday night's annual Ute-Aggie battle was decided in the first two-and-a-half minutes before a lot of fans had even settled into their seats.
The usual slow-starting Utes came out on fire, scoring 11 quick points and from there cruised to a 72-48 victory.
"This is a big win for us against a quality opponent," said Ute coach Jim Boylen.
"They beat us in every phase of the game," said USU coach Stew Morrill.
Ute center Luke Nevill had his perhaps best game of the season scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, while sophomore forward Kim Tillie had the best game of his career with 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting and six rebounds.
Even though Nevill's numbers were his best of the year, Boylen wasn't that impressed with his big man.
"I think he, uh, played OK," he said. "I've got high standards for Luke Nevill and he didn't reach them tonight. I think he should have had 30 (points) and 20 (rebounds) with the opportunities he had."
While Boylen wasn't impressed with his big man, Morrill was.
"He's about 8-feet tall. He's skilled. He's strong, and they throw him the ball high. You try and he help and they seal and other guys get open threes. If you're trying to help on Nevill and they're knocking down threes it's pretty tough."
The 3-pointers were big for the Utes, who finished with 9 of 18 from 3-point range after starting the game by making eight of their first 10.
Point guard Tyler Kepkay made 3 of 4, including two to start the game, while Shaun Green made 3 of 5 and Tille sank his only two.
"Kim Tillie has talent and tonight he got his opportunity and made the most of it," said Boylen.
Besides the inside play of Nevill and Tillie, and the outside shooting, another key to the win was the Utes' defense. They held the Aggies to 37 percent shooting from the field and just 23.5 percent from 3-point range.
Lawrence Borha and Luka Drca took turns guarding USU's star guard Jaycee Carroll and held him to just 11 points and only seven shots on the night. Center Gary Wilkinson was the only other Aggie in double figures with 12 points.
Boylen praised the play of his defenders, but saved most of it for a player who only played two minutes Wednesday night.
"We gave the game ball to Chris Grant," Boylen said. "Chris Grant was Jaycee Carroll in practice all week and he was a great Jaycee Carroll. Chris was high energy and played very well in practice It really helped to have (Grant) on our scout team to make that happen. We've got a senior captain who doesn't play a whole lot who helped us win this game."
The Utes began the game by sinking their first five shots, including three 3-pointers to take a 13-2 lead just three minutes into the game. Utah kept a double-figure lead throughout the half and took a 38-23 lead into the locker room.
"We tried to do a better job with the first five or six plays and get bodies moving," Boylen said. "Part of the (reason) we were getting off to sluggish starts was my fault. I wasn't running the right plays to get this team going."
In the second half, the closest the Aggies could get in was 10 points at 47-37 with 13:08 left. Down 53-41 with just under 10 minutes left, they had a chance to cut the lead to under double digits since early in the game.
However, Kris Clark missed a wide-open 3-pointer and the Utes scored on their next six possessions to extend the lead to 66-44.
"Coach talks about when you have open shots take them and that's what I did took open shots," said Kepkay.Both teams head out on the road for games Saturday with the Utes playing No. 18-ranked Oregon in Portland at 4 p.m. with the Aggies facing Cal State Bakersfield at 8:30 p.m.
GAME NOTES: This wasn't the Utes' biggest victory ever against the Aggies. As recently as 1999, the Utes beat the Aggies 77-42 ... The Aggies last won at the Huntsman Center in 2001 ... The Utes won the rebound battle 34-25 ... Utah is now 129-91 all time vs. the Aggies ... . Stephen Weigh saw his first action in more than two weeks after sitting out with bruised ribs, but went scoreless in 12 minutes of action ... Borha and Tai Wesley were called for technical fouls late in the first half after Borha was called for an offensive foul and the two players exchanged words and stares.
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