Utah State men's basketball improved its winning streak to six games on Saturday afternoon as the Aggies posted a 74-60 victory at the Air Force Academy. The win gives USU an 18-10 record on the year and an 11-5 ledger in the Mountain West, the most conference victories by any second year program in the history of the league.
Utah State used a 9-0 run midway through the first half to overcome a 10-6 deficit and take a 15-10 lead with 10:36 on the clock. Freshman guard Julion Pearre started the run with a pair of free throws and punctuated it with a 3-point shot. The USU margin grew to as much as 12, 30-18, with 2:32 remaining, but the Falcons were able to trim the lead to nine, 30-21, going into the break.
Air Force came out of the intermission with back-to-back baskets, cutting the Aggie lead to four, but Utah State answered with buckets from freshman forward David Collette and Pearre to go back up 10, 35-25. The four-point difference was as close as the Falcons came in the second half as Utah State closed out the game a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line during the final two minutes to ice the game, 74-60.
The contest proved to be a little chippy down the stretch as the teams combined for a total of six technical fouls all related to unsportsmanlike conduct on the court.
Pearre led all scorers with a career-high 21 and was followed by junior guard Chris Smith with 16. Collette finished his afternoon with 13 points and added a team-high three blocks, moving to within four of the single-season record of 59. Sophomore wing Jalen Moore recorded his fourth double-double of the season after tallying 10 points and 10 rebounds, to round out the double-digit scorers for the Aggies. Moore also led USU with four assists during the contest.
Air Force was led by sophomore forward Hayden Graham with a double-double effort of 16 points and 12 rebounds, and he was followed by senior guard Max Yon with 13 and sophomore guard Zach Kocur with 11.
As a team, Utah State shot 48.0 percent (24-of-50) from the floor, 30.8 percent (8-of-26) from long range and a season-high 90.0 percent (18-of-20) from the free-throw line. Air Force finished shooting 40.3 percent (25-of-62) from the floor, 19.0 percent (4-of-21) from behind the 3-point line and 42.9 percent (6-of-14) from the free-throw line.
Utah State plays in its 2014-15 road finale next week when the Aggies travel to Laramie, Wyoming, and face Wyoming on Wednesday, March 4 at 7 p.m. MT. Fans can watch the game on the Mountain West Network with Nate Kreckman providing play-by-play and Joe Cravens serving as the analyst. Fans can also listen to the game live on the Aggie Sports Network with Al Lewis on the call.
Kyle Cottam is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Utah State University.