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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Koby McEwen scored 14 of his 25 points in the second half when Sam Merrill had all 11 of his points and seventh-seeded Utah State pulled away for a 76-65 win over 10th-seeded Utah State in a first-round game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament on Wednesday.
Dwayne Brown Jr., added 15 points and Julion Pearre 14 for the Aggies (16-16), who face second-seeded Boise State in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Utah State erased a 15-point deficit and trailed 35-33 at the half. Merrill had back-to-back baskets in a 6-0 run that put the Aggies up for good, 47-44 with 14 minutes to go. The lead got as high as seven before the Rams cut it to 68-65 on a 3-point play by Deion James with 4½ minutes to go. However, Utah State scored the last eight points of the game while the Rams missed their last six shots and finished 1 for 10.
The Aggies, despite going 1 of 10 from distance, shot 56 percent in the second half with a 22-14 rebounding advantage.
Anthony Bonner had 15 points and Prentiss Nixon 14 for the Rams (11-21), who had a tumultuous season with the suspension resignation of head coach Larry Eustachy followed by the suspension of interim coach Steve Barnes. They lost 12 of their last 13 games.
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