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USU basketball: USU earns 72-56 victory on the road against UC Irvine

Utah State men’s basketball won its season opener, 72-56, on Friday night against UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center. Four Aggies scored in double figures with senior wing Jalen Moore leading with a game-high 22 points.

Freshman guard Koby McEwen added 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and a block. Rector had 10 points and led the Aggies with five assists. Sophomore forward Norbert Janicek went 4-for-4 from the floor, including a 3-pointer, recording 10 points and five rebounds. Junior forward Quinn Taylor led the Aggies with six rebounds and had six points.

Utah State opened the game a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line, building a 10-4 lead with 15:45 to play. UC Irvine came back with a 6-0 run to take a 15-14 lead with 10:20 to play, but the Aggies countered with an 11-0 run during the next three minutes to take their first double-digit lead of the half, 25-15, with 6:54 on the clock. The Aggies led the rest of the night, and the margin grew to as much as 18, 36-18, following a layup by junior guard Julion Pearre with 2:21 to play as the Aggies ultimately took a 40-24 lead going into the break.

Utah State captured its first 20-point lead in the second half, 45-25, following a pair of free throws from Moore. A jump shot by Moore minutes later gave the Aggies their largest lead of the game, 51-28, with 14:51 to play.

UC Irvine was able to cut the Aggies’ lead to 14, 56-42, with 10:05 left, but the Aggies responded with a 6-0 run to put the lead back up 20, 62-42, with 7:42 left to play. Redshirt sophomore wing Alexis Dargenton put the finishing touches on the Utah State victory with a breakaway dunk in transition, putting Utah State up 70-50 with just less than three minutes to play.

Utah State shot 47.2 percent (25-of-53) during the night and held the Anteaters to just 29.5 percent (18-of-61) from the floor. The Aggies also outscored UC Irvine, 26-14, in the paint.

UC Irvine was led by freshman guard Eyassu Worku with 11 points, five rebounds and two assists off the bench. Senior center Ionnis Dimakopoulos added 10 points and four rebounds.

The Aggies open at home on Monday against NJIT. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MT.