Late run propels Utah State past BYU 69-62

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LOGAN, Utah (AP) - "Jimmer Can't Save You Now" read the hand-drawn sign in the sellout crowd at Utah State.

Neither could the return of Brandon Davies.


Instead, guard Brockeith Pane and Utah State's home- court advantage proved too much for Brigham Young on Friday night as the Aggies used an 11-0 second-half run to fuel a 69-62 victory over the Cougars in the season opener for both teams.

"That was wild and crazy like they always are," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said of the instate rivalry. "It was a special game in a special place."

The Aggies have now won 32 straight home games - the third-longest active home winning streak in the nation behind Duke (36) and Kentucky (34).

The win avenges a 78-72 loss last November in Provo. Both teams bore little resemblance to the ones that met a year ago.

The Aggies are rebuilding after losing eight players off a team that posted a 30-4 record and won the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title for the fourth straight year. They lost four starters and six seniors, including forward Tai Wesley, the 2011 Western Athletic Conference player of the year.

BYU is trying to move on after losing national player of the year Jimmer Fredette and its all-time steals leader, Jackson Emery, and after a school-record 32 wins and a trip to the NCAA round of 16.

With so many new faces and lineup switches, the game not surprisingly was sloppy, with the two teams combining for 38 turnovers.

But as expected, it also was physical, with more than a dozen offensive fouls called and BYU forward Noah Hartsock forced to play with what he hopes is only a bloody - not broken - nose.

Also as expected, the crowd was raucous.

As many as 1,500 of the 4,000 students in attendance Friday had been camping out overnight for days in sub-freezing temperatures in a bid to get the best seats in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

From the moment the doors opened, the crowd was on Davies, who was playing a game for the first time since being booted off the team for a BYU honor-code violation in March. Fans held signs that read Davies has his own honor code, and girls stood with stomachs bared and the words "Honor Code Violation" painted in Aggie blue-and-white. Davies started slowly after getting in foul trouble, but he finished strong, with 13 points and five rebounds.

The crowd also had plenty of fodder for shooting guard Stephen Rogers, who chose BYU over the Aggies in the spring of 2010 after a heated recruiting battle.

They gave him a parting shot when he fouled out with 15 seconds left after scoring just seven points.

"It was a fun, fun game," said Utah State forward Brady Jardine, who added 12 points and eight rebounds. "That's why you go to work and practice every day so you can play in front of 10,500 crazy fans. This is the kind of game you'll look back on and remember how much fun college basketball can be."

The game was tight early, with Utah State leading 30-28 at halftime, before BYU took a 42-38 lead after a pair of free throws by Davies with 11:03 left.

Then the smaller Aggies, who won the rebounding battle 31-29, took over.

Steven Thorton ignited the big run with a driving layup. Pane added a jumper and steal, and Preston Medlin hit a 3- pointer to give Utah State the lead for good with 9:02 remaining.

"We got stuck on 42," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We missed a couple of shots and we panicked a little bit. ... We'll learn lessons from this."

Brock Zylstra, starting at point guard likely until Matt Carlino becomes eligible in mid-December, hit a jumper that pulled BYU within 64-59 with 37 seconds remaining. But Pane scored on a long inbounds pass to put it away.

There's no question the Cougars are searching for a go-to guy, and someone to hit the long-range shot that made Fredette famous.

BYU was just 3 of 14 from 3-point range, with Zylstra going 0 for 3 and Rogers 0 for 4 from beyond the arc.

Charles Abouo was BYU's biggest threat from outside, hitting three 3-pointers and finishing with 16 points.

Pane proved the real pain.

"I found some cracks in the lane and made some floaters after we started penetrating the zone," said Pane, tabbed as the preseason pick to win WAC player of the year honors. "We stayed composed down the stretch. That was good."

The crowd certainly can take part of the credit.

"It's a tough place to come in and win," Rose said. "I thought our guys came in and battled hard... it just kind of got away from us."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV-11-11-11 2248MST


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