In its season opener, the BYU men’s basketball team fell to the Utah State Aggies 69-62 on Friday night in front of a packed house in the Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah State continued its streak of wins at home against in-state opponents, having only lost one game to in-state teams in the past five seasons.
“It’s proven by their record that this is a tough place to come in and win,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “I thought we got in good position to win that game and then we let it get away from us.”
The first half was closely contested, with Utah State holding on to a small lead the majority of the half. The half saw five lead changes and four ties, while Utah State’s largest lead was just four. With 20 seconds remaining in the half, BYU cut the Aggies’ lead to one on a 3-point basket by Charles Abouo. Utah State then hit a free throw with under a second to go and took a 30-28 lead into the locker room.
BYU came out of the locker room with energy, tying the game on its first offensive posession. Senior Noah Hartsock hit a couple of jump shots, along with a two-handed dunk on a fast break, to give the Cougars a two-point lead with 16 minutes remaining. But Utah State answered right back with a fast break dunk of its own by Brady Jardine to tie the game at 37.
Utah State struggled with fouls in the second half, committing seven in the first seven minutes of the half, putting BYU in the free throw bonus for the remainder of the game.
But the Aggies continued to put the pressure on the Cougars by hitting big shots, despite the Cougars consistently shooting free throws. Utah State guard Brockeith Pane hit a long jump shot with 10 minutes remaining to tie the game at 42 and bring the home crowd to life again. A few plays later, sophomore Preston Medlin gave the Aggies its first lead since the start of the second half with a 3-point basket.
BYU then committed back-to-back turnovers, and Utah State extended its lead to 49-42 with just under seven minutes remaining.
“We got stuck at 42 (points),” Rose said. “We missed a couple shots, and then we kind of panicked a little bit and took some shots out of character. We just stayed at 42 a little too long.”
The Cougars made multiple attempts to get back into the game, coming within five many times, but were thwarted in the end. With Utah State up by seven with a little over a minute to go, Jardine once again threw down a powerful dunk — this time to clinch the win.
Hartsock led the Cougars on the night with 18 points, while Utah State’s Pane was the game’s leading scorer with 21.
The Cougars take the court again Tuesday at 7 p.m. in their home opener, as they will play BYU-Hawaii in the Marriott Center.