LAS VEGAS — For the second straight day, the Utah State Aggies started slow at the Mountain West Conference Tournament before turning it on and getting a victory. This time the No. 7-seeded Aggies knocked off No. 2-seeded Boise State Broncos 78-75, beating them for the second time this season.
Turning point: Down by as many as 16 in the first half, Utah State trailed 51-41 with 15:19 remaining before going on a 9-0 run. From there the teams battled, with the Aggies taking a 74-73 edge with 57 seconds left. Up 77-75 with 24 seconds remaining, Utah State committed a turnover on the inbounds pass only to see the Broncos do the same on the ensuing possession. BSU got the ball back on a tie-up, however, but Chandler Hutchison missed a floater. Aggie guard Koby McEwen was fouled with 7.6 seconds and made one free throw. Hutchison had a good look to tie the game at the buzzer but missed.
The hero: Former Bountiful Brave Sam Merrill led Utah State with 31 points, five rebounds and five assists, including a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to put the Aggies up by four.
• Utah State made 14 3-pointers compared to 10 for the Broncos.
• Bronco star Chandler Hutchison shot just 4-of-13 from the field and finished with 14 points.
• In all, BSU scored just four points over the final 3:26 of the game.
Aggies almanac: 17-16, Won 3
Next up: The Aggies will play Thursday night's winner of the New Mexico-Wyoming matchup in the semifinals on Friday night.