LOGAN — Colorado State was doing everything it could to take away Sam Merrill for long spurts Saturday night inside the Spectrum.
Eventually, the Rams couldn’t hold him down any longer.
Merrill drained five 3-pointers en route to a 28-point, four-assist effort that helped Utah State pull away from Colorado State 77-61 Saturday night in Logan.
"Our mindset was right," Merrill said. "In the second half we got things going offensively and shot 68% in the second half, which is pretty crazy."
Justin Bean added 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Aggies, and teammate Neemias Queta added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The win, coupled with a 72-47 win over Air Force on Tuesday, gives the Aggies (16-6, 5-4 MWC) their first two-game winning streak in Mountain West Conference play.
Sammy. Sammy. Sammy. pic.twitter.com/m3V3ZGs0WQ— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) January 26, 2020
Adam Thistlewood opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers, tying the game at 34-34 1:04 into the half.
That kept the scoreline within a possession through the second half until the 8:46 mark. That’s when Merrill sparked an 13-0 run that helped the Aggies pull away for good.
Merrill dished to Queta for a thunderous dunk with 5:55 to go that put Utah State up 63-52 during a spurt that stretched as high as 17-2.
“Sam was unbelievable," Utah State head coach Craig Smith said. "He was doing Sam Merrill things. He was in a groove, his shot looked smooth, he was just making plays. So many great performances. Justin Bean was Justin Bean. I thought Diogo Brito had some issues with decision-making in the first half, but when we made the switch in the second half, he did a great job. Alphonso Anderson had his best game in quite some time."
Thistlewood finished with 14 points for the Rams (14-7, 5-4 MWC), and Nico Carvacho supplied 14 points and nine rebounds.
The Aggies travel to Laramie next Tuesday to face Wyoming. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST before next Saturday’s road tilt at No. 4 San Diego State.