LOGAN — Utah State made sure the South Dakota Mines Hardrockers didn’t make much noise Monday night.
Playing their first game under head coach Danny Sprinkle, the new-look Aggies put together a 16-0 run early in the first half and cruised to a 101-48 victory in their season opener at the Spectrum.
“I thought our guys played well,” Sprinkle said after recording his first victory at Utah State. “I thought they played with the right tempo tonight. Sometimes games like this can get a little sloppy and you can play selfish at times, but we had 26 assists and only 11 turnovers, so we played pretty clean.”
Utah State (1-0) shot 62.9% from the field against the Division II Hardrockers, including 9 of 17 from 3-point range.
Eleven different players scored for Utah State — all of them their first points as an Aggie — with junior guard Josh Uduje leading the way with 19.
The Coastal Carolina transfer connected on all eight of his shot attempts, including three 3-pointers.
“Hopefully he can keep it up. He’s got a lot to live up to now; he hasn’t missed a shot all year,” Sprinkle said of Uduje with a smile. “But it really is great to see because he kind of got rewarded for the work that he’s been putting in shooting-wise.”
Freshman guard Mason Falslev went 7 of 9 from the field for 17 points and also added five assists, five rebounds and four steals, while starting backcourt mate Darius Brown II finished with 10 points, seven assists and three steals.
Junior forward Great Osobor, who sat out last Friday’s exhibition game against Montana State Billings with a “tweaked” ankle, proved to be a force early in the game, scoring seven of USU’s first 10 points.
The 6-foot-8, 250-pound transfer from Montana State racked up 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists in just 18 minutes.
“He was amazing,” Uduje said of Osbor. “That’s my dog right there, and in that first half, there was about a five minute stretch when he was just unstoppable.
That’s what he is, a big, high-energy guy, and this is only the beginning for him. We had an extra game to get warm, so we expect a lot from him.”
Utah State, which led by as many as 56 points in the second half, totaled 11 steals and turned most of them into fast-break scoring opportunities. The Aggies also outrebounded South Dakota Mines by a 47-21 margin.
“They’re just a really big, strong, physical team,” SDM head coach Eric Glenn said of Utah State. “I love their physicalness and for us, that’s something that we’re not necessarily able to do in practice to that extent, so that’s why this game is fun for us to able to do that.”
The Aggies defended the 3-point line much better Monday than they did against Montana State Billings, another Division II school, surrendering just four 3-pointers in 25 attempts to the Hardrockers.
Overall, South Dakota Mines shot just 28.6% from the field, with senior guard Alejandro Rama (19 points) the only player to score more than six points.
Utah State, which trailed 6-3 after the Hardrockers made their first three shots of the game, scored the contest’s next 16 points and ended up leading 51-25 at halftime.
A 19-0 spurt early in the second half put the game out of reach for good, and Sprinkle was able to get at least eight minutes of playing time for all 11 Aggies.
Perhaps most notably, redshirt sophomore guard Landon Brenchley, the only current Aggie to record any stats at all last season, recorded two free throws and a putback for the first four points of his USU career.
The moment was huge not only for Cache Valley native, but for the USU bench, which went wild after Brenchley’s first field goal.
“We were so happy for Landon, and that’s just a testament to this team,” Uduje said. “Everybody is so invested in each other’s lives, and it’s just great to be a part of that, and on top of that, we’ve got the crowd and the community with us too, so it’s awesome.”
The Aggies travel to Illinois for their next game at Bradley on Saturday night. Sprinkle said that wing Max Agbonkpolo is questionable going forward. The graduate transfer from Wyoming played in the exhibition game on Friday after missing six weeks with a foot injury, but didn’t see action Monday despite warming up and was on the sideline in a boot during the game.
“It was just really sore,” Sprinkle said of Agbonkpolo’s left foot. “He broke his fifth metatarsal when he was at USC, and he had a pin put in there, so I don’t know. We’ll probably have some X-rays and kind of figure it out.”