A nine-point lead in the second half was not enough for the Aggies Friday night at Extra Mile Arena.
For the second straight game, the top two teams in the Mountain West Conference squared off with first place on the line. Boise State used a 14-0 run in the second half to get ahead and then another surge late to complete a sweep of Utah State in Boise, Idaho, 81-77, in front of 872 fans. It was the first time the Aggies have been swept in league play this season.
“We fought hard,” Aggie guard Brock Miller said. “Give Boise State credit. They shot really well. They did a great job this week.”
For the second straight game USU (14-7, 11-4 MW) was without starting point guard Rollie Worster because of a leg injury. Steven Ashworth got his second start and had seven points and five assists.
While Worster was missed, USU head coach Craig Smith was not making any excuses for the two-game losing streak.
"Obviously we’re very disappointed in tonight’s loss, it’s a tough one to handle," Smith said. "I thought we did some really good things on the offensive end. As a whole, made some really senseless decisions at times. We took some really bad shots that were unnecessary. You just can’t waste possessions. You’re not going to be perfect, but I thought we threw away some possessions with some senseless decisions."
With the loss, the Aggies drop all the way down to fourth in the league standings. The Broncos tighten their grip on first.
The Broncos (18-4, 14-3) finished the game shooting 53.7 percent from the field - the second highest mark by an Aggie opponent this year - and made 7 of 17 3-point shots for the game. The Broncos were once again led by Derrick Alston with 23 points. Abu Kigab netted 19.
"A team like Boise State - they’re high-powered, the number one offensive team in the Mountain West," Smith said. "You’re not going to beat a really good team allowing them to shoot 74 percent in a half. We’ve just got to be better. We had a great start to the game, playing really connected on both sides of the ball.
"We made some substitutions and started doing our own deal for a while. We just can’t have that. Specifically in the first half; we took some bad shots. When you take bad shots it’s harder to offensive rebound and it’s harder to get back on defense. It’s got to be better."
For the second straight game Neemias Queta had a monster game. He had a game-high 30 points and a game-best 11 rebounds. Queta became the first Aggie since Jaycee Carroll during the 2007-08 season to have back-to-back 30-point games.
Joining Queta in double-digit scoring was Justin Bean with 11 points and Brock Miller with 10.
The Aggies certainly got off to a much better start Friday than Wednesday. USU scored the first nine points, forcing a timeout by the Broncos. Queta scored 15 seconds into the contest, followed by back-to-back buckets by Bean and a 3-pointer by Miller.
Marco Anthony gave the Aggies their largest lead of the first 20 minutes when he drilled a shot from beyond the arc off a pass from Ashworth. The trey gave the visitors a 17-7 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Scoring slowed down for the Aggies over the next seven minutes. During that timespan, Boise State went on a 16-4 surge to take its first lead of the game, 23-21, with 8:46 left in the first half.
Queta got the Aggies going again with a layin after a dryspell of nearly four minutes. After four lead changes and three ties, USU put together a 10-2 stretch to end the opening half.
The Broncos went 3:40 without scoring as the Aggies couldn’t take an even bigger advantage of the opportunity as they had three straight turnovers.
Queta scored the last four points of the first half, including a nifty move in the paint with a second to play. USU took a 37-30 lead into the break as Queta had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Queta picked right up where he left off in the first half with four quick points as the Aggies built a 45-36 lead with 17:45 to play. Then USU went cold again. The Aggies went 4:13 without scoring.
The Broncos went on a 14-0 run to surge in front, 50-45, with 13:49 to play.
USU came storming back, scoring eight straight points to get back in front, 53-50.
Then it was back and forth with five lead changes and six ties. Boise State used a 7-1 surge to build a 78-72 lead with a minute to play and made enough free throws to seal the deal. The Broncos are 11-0 at home this season.
"In the second half, they (Broncos) shot 74 percent from the field, and it’s tough to beat a team when they play at that level," Miller said. "Overall, we showed a lot of fight. We’re going to have to bounce back from this for sure."
Fourteen turnovers also didn't help the Aggie cause Friday night.
"We had two losses in league, now had two in three days," Smith said. "That’s hard to swallow. Our guys will bounce back, we’ll play better.”
Utah State began the day at No. 55 in the NET rankings, while Boise State checked in at No. 37. … The Aggies won the rebound battle, 33-25, for the 21st straight game this season and are 66-15 under head coach Craig Smith when that happens. … With his 11 rebounds, Queta moved past Kendall Youngblood (674) and into 14th on the career rebounding list with 677. Queta also moved into ninth all by himself in career double-doubles with 23, leaving Spencer Nelson in 10th. … Steven Ashworth moved past Jaxon Myaer (23) and into ninth on the single season freshman list for 3-pointers and now has 24. The freshman also played a career-high 37 minutes Friday. … The Aggies still lead the all-time series with the Broncos, 34-18.
KING OF SWAT
Aggie center Neemias Queta began the day fifth in the nation with 60 blocks, which is as many or more than 197 other teams in the nation. His average of 3.0 blocks per game is the best in school history and ranks fifth nationally as well.
This goes to the big guy once again. For the second game in a row Neemias Queta reached the 30-point mark as he had a game-high 30 points on 14 of 19 shooting from the field and 2 of 4 from the foul line. The junior also had a game-best 11 rebounds to record his 23rd career double-double. Queta added three assists, three steals and blocked two shots in 34 minutes of action.
AGGIE DUNK COUNT
There were no dunks by the Aggies over the first 20 minutes.
And just one late in the game for USU. Neemias Queta took a pass from Steven Ashworth and threw it down with 2:48 to play.
Season dunk count: Queta 35, Justin Bean 6, Trevin Dorius 6, Marco Anthony 4, Alphonso Anderson 3, Szymon Zapala 2, Sean Bairstow 1, Brock Miller 1.
The Aggies have a week before returning to action. They will host Nevada (14-7, 9-5) next Friday in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Wolf Pack and Aggies will tip off at 7 p.m. Nevada had its series with Colorado State postponed this week due to contract tracing within the Wolf Pack program.