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LOGAN — If there have been any blemishes in Utah State's undefeated start to the season, it's been a tendency to allow career-high performances by individual players.
The Aggies gave up 43 points to Eric Williams Jr. of San Diego in an overtime win, and they allowed 29 points to Utah Tech's Cameron Gooden in a 5-point victory.
On Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Michelob ULTRA Arena, another player gave Utah State a run for its money. Loyola Marymount's Cam Shelton exploded for 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half to give the Lions an early 13-point lead and well on his way to breaking his career high.
Then the Aggies showed why they're still undefeated.
Utah State's offense outscored the Tigers 43-28 in the second half, held Shelton to 3 points on 0-of-7 shooting, and defeated Loyola Marymount 79-67 to improve to 8-0 on the season.
"Really proud of the response that our guys had," Utah State head coach Ryan Odom said. "When you're down (13) you kind of find out what you're made of. Are you going to try to get back in this thing in the first half or let it go? And our guys fought right away."
Max Shulga led the way with 18 points and Steven Ashworth had 16 points, while Dan Akin and Sean Bairstow both had 14 points apiece. The Aggies remain one of eight undefeated teams in the country.
In front of a near-empty gym on a late night in Sin City, the Aggies looked sluggish for the better portion of the first half and trailed 32-19 with 6:02 left in the half and shot 35% from the field. Shelton was unstoppable and buried two 3-pointers while getting to the hoop with ease.
But Utah State showed it's a team that can afford to play with some margin of error.
A momentary shift into a zone helped slow down LMU, while the Aggies offense came alive. Ashworth forced contact on a 3-pointer and buried three free throws. Then Bairstow got going and threw down a ferocious dunk with 3:41 left in the half to cut the lead to 32-28. He then tacked on two floaters and the Aggie closed the half on a 17-7 run to trail 39-36.
In the second half, Utah State put together another huge run where Ashworth hit a 3-pointer, Trevin Dorius found Taylor Funk for a dunk on the fast break, and a quick 12-2 run gave the Aggies a 56-50 lead.
"You can't win a game at halftime," Ashworth said. "And the same thing is true: You can't lose the game at halftime. And so within that first half there were definitely stretches where we weren't playing Aggie basketball.
"The messaging (was) just come together, play together, be confident on offense and that'll lead to more competence and more determination on defense and that's what kind of flipped the switch."
Shulga helped keep the Lions at bay and got to the free-throw line to score 9 points in the final seven minutes, and Utah State cruised to the win.
As a team, the Aggies shot 46% from the field and 31% from 3-point range, while LMU shot 37% from the field and just 23% in the second half.
Utah State returns home to face Westminster on Thursday.