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Utah State men's basketball team returns home after losses in Cancun Challenge

Published November 25, 2016 12:43 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • Excuse the Utah State men's basketball team if it doesn't book any more trips to Mexico.

After taking one this week, the Aggies have probably had enough warm sun and sandy beaches.

Utah State participated in the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. It lost to 17th-ranked Purdue (85-64) and unranked Texas Tech (75-51).

The Aggies had their chances in both games. They trailed the Boilermakers late in the first half, 28-27. They led the Red Raiders at halftime, 32-30. But they faltered badly.

After losing to the Boilermakers, coach Tim Duryea said, "I was very impressed with how Purdue played — very impressed with the purpose they play with offensively. They have an identity of playing power basketball and did it extremely well. We didn't do a very good job of taking anything away. We didn't take away their inside play and we let their guards … make way too many shots."

Senior wing Jalen Moore scored 16 points against Purdue. Sophomore forward Alexis Dargenton, on the floor more than usual because of Utah State's early foul trouble, finished with a career-high 14. Junior guard Julion Pearre also played his best game of the season. He scored 10 points.

Against Texas Tech, the Aggies jumped to a 29-17 lead with 4:18 left in the first half. The Red Raiders rallied within two by halftime, however, but outscored Utah State in the final 20 minutes, 45-19.

The Aggies shot a season-low 39.6 percent.

"We had a great start," Duryea said. "We played well on both ends of the floor and played with a lot of fight and played together. But when the momentum swung at the end of the first half, we missed some shots and that mentality carried over to the defensive end.

"In the second half, we wilted defensively because our shots weren't going in. We did the right thing offensively and made the right plays. We just didn't make shots. Sometimes that's going to happen to you. … You can't hang your head or think about the last play and that happened. When the momentum swung their way, we could never get it back.

Moore averaged 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two games. He was named to the all-tournament team.

Utah State is 3-2 on the season. The Aggies play BYU on Wednesday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

— Steve Luhm




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