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Aggies bounce back with decisive win over depleted New Orleans squad

Utah State guard Rylan Jones (15) brings the ball up court in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game against BYU Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Provo, Utah.

Utah State guard Rylan Jones (15) brings the ball up court in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game against BYU Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Provo, Utah. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

LOGAN β€” Following Rylan Jones' second 3-pointer in consecutive trips down the court to give Utah State basketball a 22-point lead in the first half, the Aggies student section let the visiting Privateers of New Orleans hear it.

"It's too easy," they chanted.

Facing a depleted New Orleans roster that traveled just seven players, the Aggies had their way during the final home game before Christmas break Saturday night, leading by as many as 46 points and ultimately winning 82-50.

Following back-to-back losses to Saint Mary's and BYU, it was a necessary confidence-booster of a game.

"It was a game we definitely needed coming off two tough losses we felt like we should have won," guard RJ Etyle-Rock said. "Coach in the locker room said, 'How are we going to respond tonight?' And I felt like we responded the right way with a good win."

The Aggies found their mojo offensively, shooting 48.4% from the field and 39.4% from beyond 3-point range.

Three different players nearly had double-doubles; Jones had a season-high 11 assists along with 6 points; and center Trevin Dorus was perfect from the field for 12 points β€” including four dunks β€” and nine rebounds. In 24 minutes of action, forward Justin Bean totaled 14 points and eight rebounds, and Etyle-Rock added 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

As they have been all season, the Aggies found success by moving the ball and finished with 26 assists, which resulted in 83% of their made shots.

"It's one of the most fun teams I've ever played with," Dorius said. "The way that we share and move the ball is really special and unique to our team. And personally, like last year, we had a lot of good stuff going on as far as sharing the ball. But this year is just, everyone is looking out for each other. We've got some great chemistry as a team."

Defensively, Utah State was similarly effective for a majority of the game and limited a Privateer offense that plays an inside-out style of basketball. The Aggies had success denying entry passes into 6-foot-9 Tyson Jackson and 6-foot-10 Simeon Kirkland.

As a result, the two bigs had short stat lines: Jackson was 3-of-9 from the field for 8 points and Kirkland was 3-of-5 for 10 points. As a team, the seven Privateers combined to shoot 28.6% from the field and 23.5% from 3-point range.

"These guys are unique. They work a lot through their big man. And most of their points throughout the season have been those 2-point shots," Dorius said. "So I feel like we did a good job. We were ready for that."

The game that opened with a 15-2 Aggie run, had two memorable plays.

Jones, who had seven assists in the first 20 minutes, made a head-turning play three minutes into the game. Bringing the ball up the court, he nonchalantly tossed a lob from mid-court to Bean, who grabbed it mid-air and hammered it home for a dunk.

"What a play that was. I mean, for Rylan to see it and trust it and then Bean to be able to come up with that, that was tremendous," head coach Ryan Odom said. "They'll be celebrating that one until they're 55."

The second highlight came in the second half when the Aggies were on a 15-4 run and leading 70-29.

With the game paused, Brock Miller, a senior guard grabbed a towel to wipe down a wet spot on the floor, which prompted the student section to chant "Mr. Clean." Miller raised his arms in the air in encouragement. The next offensive possession, he sank a 3-pointer to give Utah State a 73-29 with 9:11 to play, re-igniting the chant.

"Yeah, it's always fun to see the student section get involved in the whole stadium cheer and like that," Dorius said. "It's pretty electric as a player. You know, Brock is one of the funniest dudes that I've ever met. He just loves it."

The Aggies now hope to carry that momentum into Wednesday's matchup against in-state foe Weber State.

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