BAKERSFIELD Without a road win this year and an offense struggling for consistency, Utah State coach Stew Morrill shook up the line-up at Cal State Bakersfield Saturday night, and it appeared to work.
Jaycee Carroll, who scored just 11 points in a loss to Utah earlier in the week, poured in 27 points, and Gary Wilkinson added 21 more in leading the Aggies to their first road win over the year with a 88-66 decision over Cal State-Bakersfield.
Carroll, who had just seven shots in the loss to the Utes, connected on 10-of-17 shots, including 6 of 10 from the three-point line, while Wilkinson was 7 of 14 from the field and 6 for 6 from the foul line.
After shooting just 37 percent (23.5 from the 3-point line) in a 72-48 loss to the Utes, the Aggies shot 60 percent and 60 percent from the 3-point line in the 22-point victory over Bakersfield.
"Offensively, certainly that was our best night," Morrill told KVNU radio.
Freshmen Tyler Newbold and Tai Wesley made their first career starts in the place of DeUndrae Spraggins and Stephen DuCharme, respectively, and the shake-up served them well.
Newbold posted career highs in points with nine on 3-for-3 shooting, rebounds with six and minutes with 29, while Wesley tied a career-high with 12 points, while hauling in a career-best five rebounds.
"Coach Morrill is never going to give up and he's a heck of a coach and knows what we need to do to get better," Newbold told KVNU radio.
"We focused on screening better in the last few practices and it showed. We got nice looks at the baskets and we were able to knock them down."
DuCharme came off the bench and led the Aggies with eight rebounds, while scoring five points.
The Aggies (6-5), fueled by 17 first-half points by Wilkinson and 14 more by Carroll, led by seven points at the half after coming back from a two-point deficit after leading by 10 late in the half.
On a foul shot by Wesley with eight minutes left in the half, the Aggies led by 10 points, but the Roadrunners, thanks in part to four straight three-pointers, took a 30-28 lead with 4:39 left.
Utah State, however, answered with a 19-10 run down the stretch to take the lead for good. The Aggies' last three baskets in the half were three-pointers by Carroll, Newbold and Wilkinson.
The Roadrunners connected on 7 of 11 three-points, while Utah State hit 6 of 10. Bakersfield shot just 21 percent from the field in the second half.
Carroll upped the Aggie lead to 10 with a three-pointer to open the half. After the Roadrunners cut the lead to nine on a couple of occasions, the Aggies ballooned the lead to 17 on six straight points Carroll with six minutes to play.
A three-pointer by Pooh Williams gave the Aggies their biggest lead of 24 points with less than a minute left in the game.
Terrance Johns led the Roadrunners (1-7) with 20 points and Alex Johnson added 12 points.
The Aggies will play the first of five straight home games next Saturday hosting Prairie View A&M at the Smith Spectrum.