BOISE Boise State's Reggie Larry and Matt Nelson are widely considered throughout the Western Athletic Conference as the best inside duo in the league.
Utah State didn't argue that, but it made the statement Thursday night's 88-69 victory over the Broncos that the Aggies have the best trio.
As expected, Larry and Nelson got their points 23 and 20, respectively and they combined for 13 rebounds, but the Aggies' trio of Stephen DuCharme, Gary Wilkinson and Tai Wesley combined for 42 points and 19 rebounds in leading the Aggies to the 19-point victory.
"Steve was huge and played great," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "Senior Night at our place (last Monday) got him going hopefully."
For the second straight game, the inside players opened up the outside from Jaycee Carroll, who scored 19 of his team-high 23 points in the second half.
The Aggies shot 54.2 percent from the field for the game, due in large part to those four. Each shot 50 percent or better: DuCharme (9-of-14), Carroll (7-of-13), Wesley (5-for-5) and Wilkinson (4-of-7).
"We've had our problems on the road that have been well documented," Morrill said. "This soothes the wounds a little bit from the road woes he have had. We had a lot of guys step up and make plays. We had an excited group."
With the win, the Aggies (21-9, 11-4) now stand one win away from capturing the No. 1 seed for next week's WAC tournament. They travel to Idaho on Saturday, and it will be Utah State's third game this week, while Idaho hasn't played since returning from the road after sweeping San Jose State and Hawaii.
"It was an exciting, fun win, but the job is only half-done," Morrill said. "We've got a big one coming up."
The Broncos (22-8, 12-4) led only twice in the game on a 3-pointer to start the game and three minutes later on a jumper by Nelson. Once the Aggies took the lead at 10-8 on a 3-pointer by Kris Clark, the Aggies never let go of it.
By halftime, the Aggies built a 14-point lead, and it stayed in double-digits until the 10-minute mark of the second half on a 3-pointer by Tyler Tiedeman to cut it to nine for the first of three times for the Broncos.
But the Aggies responded each time. DuCharme answered with two foul shots, and Carroll knocked down a 3-pointer the first time.
The second time the Broncos got it to nine, Wesley hit a jumper, and the final time it happened with 3:50 left, Carroll drilled another 3-ball.
"We never felt comfortable because we know how explosive they are," Morrill said. "It got down to a margin where they had a shot and a chance to get back into the game and he (Carroll) kept hitting dagger shots. If you look at his line, it's pretty dang impressive."
Along with the 23 points, Carroll also had nine rebounds.
The Broncos' bread-and-butter all year has been the inside game of Nelson and Larry and the outside game of Tiedeman and Matt Bauscher. In the loss, they only had the bread.
Tiedeman finished with 10 points (four below his average), and Bauscher, who averages 9.1 per game, was held scoreless.
Boise State hit just 2-of-17 3-pointers, and at one point they missed 13 straight. Tiedeman was 1-for-4 from behind the arch, Larry 0-for-4 and Bauscher 0-for-3.
The Broncos, who are second in the nation in shooting behind Utah State, shot 46 percent from the field (including 11.8 percent from the 3-point line).
"I think we had something to do with that. I think they got a little tight as they missed shots," Morrill said.Utah State outrebounded the Broncos 38-22, and connected on 18-of-22 foul shots, while Boise State hit just 21-of-33.
E-mail: [email protected]