After falling short against UNLV Monday night, the rematch with the Runnin’ Rebels two days later loomed large as Utah State hoped to keep pace with Boise State and Colorado State at the top of the Mountain West Conference

The Aggies did not drop the proverbial ball and defeated UNLV 83-74 Wednesday night in Las Vegas, improving to 13-5 on the season and 10-2 in conference play.

Here are three keys to Utah State’s win over UNLV:

Second half surge

Things were tight throughout the first half and the Aggies led by only three points at halftime, 37-34. Coming out of the break, though, Utah State was a different team. The Aggies reeled off a 7-0 run in the opening three minutes of the second half, stretching their lead to 10. That lead would eventually grow to as large as 13, as Utah State controlled play throughout the final half, holding off any and all attempted rally attempts by UNLV.

Stout defense has been the catalyst for Utah State’s success all season long and that was the case in the second half Wednesday night. The Runnin’ Rebels scored 40 second half points and shot only 43.3% in the game, including 35.7% from behind the arc.

The starting five

It might be a little hyperbolic to suggest that Utah State’s starting five had their best collective outing of the season, but the Neemias Queta, Justin Bean, Rollie Worster, Brock Miller and Marco Anthony were excellent as a group.

Each of the five scored in double-figures, led by Worster with a career-high 19. Anthony had one of his best outing’s at Utah State and finished with 12 points. Queta finished with 13 points, while Bean chipped in 13. As for Miller, he finished with 15.

The scoring, while impressive, was perhaps overshadowed by the collective rebounding of the group. Worster and Bean each finished with nine rebounds, while Queta added eight and Anthony five.

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Worster also had 9 assists, in what was inarguably his best game yet in Aggie blue.

The long ball

The Aggies made particular use of the 3-point shot against the Runnin’ Rebels, to great effect. Utah State made 10 of 19 shots from behind the arc, good for a scalding shooting percentage of 52.6%.

Per the usual, Miller led the way with three made 3-pointers, but Anthony was actually the Aggies’ best outside shooter Wednesday, making three of four attempts himself. Bean and Worster both got into the act with 3-point makes too, as did Alphonso Anderson and Steven Ashworth.

Not unrelated to their outside shooting, the Aggies also had great success in the paint. Utah State shot 50% for the game, and only Queta and Anthony made less than half of their shots.

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