Senior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. poured in a career-high-tying 24 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out one assist as Utah State cruised to a 100-71 victory over Hartford on Friday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The was the Aggies’ first of four games associated with the MGM Main Event, which will culminate with a pair of contests in Las Vegas on Nov. 19 and 21.
Friday night’s win marked the 25th-straight season that the Aggies (2-0) have won their home opener dating back to 1993-94. It also marked the first time in school history that Utah State began the season by scoring 100 points in back-to-back games. The 2018-19 squad is the eighth different team in school history to reach the century mark in consecutive games.
All 12 Aggies who played scored at least two points. Joining Brown in double-figure scoring for Utah State was junior guard Sam Merrill (14), freshman guard Tauriawn Knight (14) and senior forward Quinn Taylor (12).
A trio of Hawks finished in double figures, led by John Carroll and Jason Dunne, who each scored 16 points. George Blagojevic added 14 points.
Freshman center Neemias Queta nearly posted a double-double as he had nine points and a game-high nine rebounds for Utah State, which shot a sizzling 55.7 percent from the field (39-of-70), including 41.7 percent from 3-point range (5-of-12), and 85.0 percent from the free-throw line (17-of-20).
Merrill added four assists for the Aggies, who had 21 helpers on the night. Utah State nearly doubled Hartford up on the boards as the hosts pulled down 48 rebounds, including 16 offensive, while the Hawks had 26 boards.
The Aggies did most of their damage on the night around the rim as they scored 64 points in the paint, tallied 16 second-chance points and had 20 fast-break points.
Defensively, Utah State limited Hartford to just 37.5 percent shooting (24-of-64) from the field, including 31.0 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-29). The Hawks converted on 16 of their 20 free throws (80.0 percent).
Hartford (0-2) came out firing on all cylinders as the Hawks drained a trio of 3-pointers to open up a 9-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest.
It didn’t take the Aggies very long to shake off the early game rust, though, and take control. Ignited by a layup from Taylor at the 17:42 mark, Utah State scored 17 of the game’s next 20 points.Comment on this story
The Aggies never trailed again.
Utah State took its largest lead of the first half at 51-27 on a dunk by junior guard Diogo Brito with 1:12 remaining. The Aggies took a 53-31 lead into the break.
The second half didn’t get much better for the visitors from Hartford, Connecticut. Utah State’s lead ballooned to as many as 32 points, 93-61, with 3:52 to go after Knight sank a couple of free throws. Knight also made sure the Aggies eclipsed the century mark when he made a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left in the game.