Logan • It’s likely than those who saw Utah State play even with Boise State on Wednesday could scarcely believe their eyes three nights later.
There were the Aggies getting blown out at home, behind by 22 points in the first half against Wyoming.
Although Utah State ended up leading by a point with 5:50 left in the second half, the same Cowboys squad that built that advantage returned for the last few minutes and earned an 85-77 win at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
“They were playing as sharp as I’ve seen them play,” Utah State coach Tim Duryea said. “We provided very little resistance to take confidence, to take hope, to take anything away from them.”
Utah State (10-11, 3-5 MWC) led 15-14 when Daron Henson made a 3-pointer with 12:45 left in the first half. After that, Wyoming (12-7, 3-3) scored 17 of the next 18 points and surged in front as the Aggies made only four of their 13 long-range attempts in the first 20 minutes.
“I think it played a factor. That’s another thing that you’ve just got to be able to compete and figure out how to get through stuff like that,” said Utah State guard Sam Merrill, who finished with a team-high 19 points. “You can’t let shot-blockers like that effect us.”
The Aggies’ comeback started with a 3 by Henson, then a bucket from Koby McEwen before halftime. Right after the break, Quinn Taylor hit a couple of buckets around a Dwayne Brown Jr. 3-pointer to make the score 42-32. After a pair of Cowboys free throws, a 3-point play by Merrill and a 3 by Diogo Brito made it 44-38.
“We actually got into it quicker than I thought we could,” Duryea said. “We got it down to six points in a heartbeat and we thought, ‘Hey, we could win this game.’ ”
The last five minutes, though, was a flashback to the problems of the first half.
“We took an ill-advised shot, we missed an easy shot or had a couple of needless turnovers,” Duryea said. “They were really doing nothing to force us into turning the ball over.”
Wyoming got 21 points from Alan Herndon and Hayden Dalton added 20. With 1:52 left, Herndon’s alley-oop dunk from Justin James gave Wyoming a 74-68 lead.
Utah State’s next game is currently in doubt. Air Force is the schedule opponent for a home game in Logan on Wednesday, but the government shutdown may prevent the Falcons from traveling to the contest because of federal regulations.
Duryea said the Aggies will prepare as if the game is going to happen.
“I don’t think we’ve played a team like that, that runs a Princeton backdoor offense,” Merrill said. “We’ve got to find a way to get better.”