A 79-62 win against Utah before 8,368 certainly qualifies for Utah State. In a game billed as two teams with contrasting styles, the Aggies dominated the first half, survived a Ute run to open the second 20 minutes and pulled away for a resounding win in front of their home fans.
"We'll take it," USU coach Stew Morrill said. "When you're supposed to be a really good basketball team, you can find yourself analyzing every little thing we didn't do and what we have to do better. But we just beat Utah by a good margin. We feel good about it. We're going to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and then get ready for the next one."
Utah State (2-1) certainly couldn't have played much better in the paint. Facing a Utah front court with 7-footers and long arms, Jardine and Tai Wesley were both dominant. Wesley, using a dizzying array of post moves and a deft touch, scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Jardine, simply put, played his best game as an Aggie, scoring 20 points and snaring 13 rebounds. Both are career highs for Jardine, who's starting for the first time in three seasons. The two set the tone for the game early on and never relinquished control of the overall flow. Wesley consistently muscled his way inside, and Jardine was there to clean up anything he missed.
"Brady Jardine had about as good a game as he ever had as an Aggie," Morrill said. "That was really good to see. He was active on the boards and confident."
While Utah State struggled from the perimeter for most of the night, the Aggies forced turnovers and pounded the Utes 45-32 on the boards. Will Clyburn scored a team-high 16 points for Utah. Josh Watkins and Shawn Glover were also good, with 15 and 13 points, respectively. But Utah, (3-1) received little production outside those three and had no answers when it went cold from the field.
"I thought Utah State's second-chance points were a big part of the game," Utes coach Jim Boylen said. "I felt that our defense overall was good at times, but the second-chance points really hurt us tonight. That was the difference in the game."
Down 35-26, Utah opened the second half with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 35-33. But a 7-0 run by the Aggies allowed them to regain control. From there, USU maintained its working margin before extending the lead for good with free throws down the stretch.
"I thought we played really good team defense," Jardine said. "They had seven-footers, but I think we worked a little bit harder. We wanted it a little bit more, and we rebounded harder."
R Utah State outrebounds Utah 45-32.
• The Utes shoot 31 percent from the field in the first half.
• Brady Jardine notches career-highs in points and rebounds.