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Worster's near triple-double helps Utah State pull away from UNLV to snap skid

Utah State guard Rollie Worster brings the ball up the court against BYU the Cougars won an NCAA college basketball game 67-64 on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Logan, Utah.

(Eli Lucero, Herald-Journal via Associated Press, Pool)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — After back-to-back games where it may have felt like nothing was going right, suddenly the Aggies could do no wrong.

At the very least, Rollie Worster couldn't.

Worster had a career-high 19 points to go along with nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals to lead five Aggies in double figures in an 83-74 win over UNLV that snapped a two-game losing skid Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Neemias Queta — also known as "Worster's water boy" during one timeout — added 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Marco Anthony added 12 points and five boards. Justin Bean had 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Brock Miller scored 15 points on 3-of-5 3-point shooting for the Aggies (13-5, 10-2 MW), including a vicious dunk to cap the final score.

But on a late-night tip when Utah State player could've been singled out, the two-time Gatorade Montana player of the year stood above the rest.

Everyone else was a little bit Worst-er.

"I think those numbers speak for themselves. He was just really in control," Utah State coach Craig Smith said of Worster, who also helped limit UNLV standout Bryce Hamilton to 2 points on 1-of-12 shooting, or 17.2 points below his average. "

"We're asking an awful lot of him. He's been shooting it better in practice, and shot it really well from yesterday. Rollie's a super competitive guy, and he just had a really good look to him. I loved how he was attacking, and making plays, either for himself or others.

"We need that dynamic out of him. He's an offensive weapon."

David Jenkins Jr. had a game-high 33 points and four assists to lead UNLV (6-7, 3-3 MW). But after the Aggies opened the second half on a 9-0 run, the Rebels scarcely threatened.

As good as that scoring line sounds, Worster almost had a triple-double.

Almost, his teammates were quick to joke in the locker room.

"All my teammates were giving me crap," Worster said with a grin. "But it is what it is; I don't stat watch. It would've been cool, but I'm just glad we got the win.

"Honestly, I just relaxed and played," he added. "I didn't overthink things, got my teammates involved. I just like to go out every day with a winning mentality … and play our brand of basketball."

Just two nights after struggling to a 69-66 loss to the Rebels, Utah State only trailed for six minutes in an overwhelming performance. The Rebels stretched a brief lead as high as six in the first half, 19-13 but the Aggies regained the advantage on Steven Ashworth's triple at the 7:45 mark.

The freshman had 3 points and a pair of assists at the break, including a lob to Neemias Queta with just over five minutes remaining to help Utah State hold on to its 37-34 edge at the locker room.

Worster led Utah State at the half with 8 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in the first half and Queta added 8 points, three rebounds and two blocks at the break, when the Aggies shot 43.8% from the field and outrebounded UNLV 21-14.

Utah State used a 9-0 run out of halftime to run its lead to double digits, 46-34 on back-to-back jumpers by Miller and Bean before the Rebels' first field goal of the half.

UNLV never threatened again.

The Aggies shot 56.7% from the field, outrebounded the Rebels 41-29, and blew away UNLV in the paint 32-20. They also assisted on 21-of-31 field goals, and made 10-of-19 from three.

As big of numbers as Worster and his team put up Wednesday night, the biggest may have been singular: one, as in the total number of turnovers for which he accounted.

Two nights after committing 17 turnovers, Utah State had 14. A small difference, but the difference in what was a 3-point game Monday.

"We've been struggling taking care of the ball, just with some lazy turnovers," Worster admitted. "I think cleaning that up was a big key, and I worked on that a lot. Limiting turnovers helps us win."

The Aggies, who moved a game behind Boise State for the Mountain West title with the Broncos' 78-56 loss to Colorado State, will take a week off before opening a two-game swing next Thursday, Feb. 4 at Fresno State.

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A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has covered BYU for since 2015, while also mixing in prep sports, education, and anything else his editors assign him to do.


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