Turnovers and sloppy plays overshadowed the notch in the win column, not unexpected for a team with many new faces, but not welcome, either. And with midmajor power St. Mary's coming to town Thursday, there's going to be some work to do.
"If we were on the road, they would have chanted, 'Overrated,' " coach Stew Morrill said. "Hopefully, we can learn from it. As I told our guys, it's nice when you can still get a win when you didn't play well."
The Bengals tested Utah State, especially in the second half, even tying the game at 37 with less than 10 minutes left.
What eventually pushed the Aggies over the top was a healthy rebounding margin and their own defensive effort, which held the Bengals to under 40 percent shooting from the field.
Preston Medlin led with 14 points, and was the only player in double figures. Guard Spencer Butterfield was a second-half spark, going 3-for-3 from deep all after the intermission.
There was no doubt, however, that the Aggies struggled against Idaho State's 1-1-3 zone, which limited access to their power players in the post, Kyisean Reed and Jarred Shaw. It created some tough spots for a team with five players making their Aggie debuts, and helped lead to 17 turnovers.
"[The Bengals] were moving, they were denying our wings," Butterfield said. "We just needed to move the ball a bit better, and once we started doing that, we started to get a few more open looks."
Eventually, the size won out over Idaho State's effort. Shaw led the rebounding tally with nine, and Utah State managed a 13-board edge for the game.
Idaho went on a 14-7 run after halftime, but the Aggies went back on top by outscoring the Bengals 19-11 in the final 10 minutes.
The Gaels, an NCAA Tournament team last year, are unlikely to be as forgiving. It's an uncomfortable thought that the Aggies will use as motivation in the next week.
"This was definitely kind of a cobweb game, just working out some of the kinks," Butterfield said. "Then we'll come back on Monday, working hard, and try to be prepared on Thursday."
R Aggies overcome 17 turnovers to beat Idaho State.
• Preston Medlin leads the team with 14 points, and Spencer Butterfield adds nine.
• Utah State outrebounds the Bengals 36-23 to help pull away late in the game.