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Utah State Survives Akron Scare, Advance To Cayman Islands Championship

Nov 20, 2023, 8:03 PM

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LOGAN, Utah – Timely offensive rebounds allowed Utah State to overcome free throw woes down the stretch in a 65-62 Aggie win.

Utah State (4-1) faced the Akron Zips in the semifinals of the Cayman Islands Classic on Monday, November 20.

RELATED: USU Opens Cayman Islands Classic With Balanced Effort In Win

Great Osobor led USU with his second consecutive double-double. The junior was the only Aggie to reach double-digit points, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Osobor battled foul trouble down the stretch.

The Aggies limited Akron to 37.7 percent shooting and 5-of-24 from beyond the three-point stripe.

Bovine Blog: Graduate Transfer Agbonkpolo Making Plays For Utah State

First Half

USU struggled through a 3-for-8 shooting start to take a 7-4 lead at the first media timeout. Akron missed six of its first eight shots to fall behind early.

A terrific Aggie defensive possession forced an Akron shot clock violation. Deflections, rotations, and tenacity were hallmarks of USU’s early defensive effort. Offensively, Great Osobor made three shots in the paint, leading his team to a 14-11 lead with 11:27 left.

Bovine Blog: Aggies Need To Find More Frontcourt Production

The Zips snatched momentum and the lead away with a 9-2 run as the Aggies missed four of five shots. Akron guard Shammah Scott scored five points during the run.

Former Sky View Bobcat Mason Falslev carried the Aggies for a stretch, scoring five straight points and forcing a turnover with quick feet and hard work on the defensive end. Akron built a four point lead but Falslev’s hard work helped USU take a 27-26 lead at the under-four minute timeout.

Utah State would hold the Zips scoreless over the last 2:49 of the half to build a 33-29 halftime lead.

Osobor led the Aggies with 10 points and seven rebounds. Falslev was everywhere, scoring nine points with three rebounds, three steals, and two assists in 15 minutes.

Second Half

The pace picked up to open the second half with Akron going on a 5-0 run. Utah State didn’t blink as they took a 39-38 lead into the first media timeout.

Bovine Blog: Great Osobor, Darius Brown II Raise Utah State’s Ceiling

After making just 3-of-10 shots from deep in the first half, Akron continued to struggle from range as they missed seven of eight from three to open the half. Utah State wasn’t a whole lot better on their side, making just 47.1 percent of their shots in the first 11 minutes of the second half.

The Aggies led 51-46 with 7:41 to play.

Utah State was able to hang on down the stretch despite a handful of inopportune turnovers and several missed free throws.

USU improved to 4-1 with the 65-62 win.

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USU advances to take on Stephen F. Austin in the Cayman Islands Classic Championship on Tuesday, November 21. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m. (MT).

The Lumberjacks advanced with a 92-68 blowout of the Drake Bulldogs.

Listen to USU basketball games on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

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Utah State Survives Akron Scare, Advance To Cayman Islands Championship