LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) - Utah State lives to fight another day.
After falling behind 20-5 in the first half against Colorado State, Koby McEwen led a furious comeback, as the Aggies pulled away from the Rams, 76-65 in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
McEwen scored 14 of his 25 points in the second half, while Sam Merrill had all 11 of his points after halftime and seventh-seeded Utah State pulled away to advance to the quarterfinals against Boise State Thursday night.
"About halfway through the first half, I thought our defensive activity and intensity really picked up,: said Utah State head coach Tim Duryea. "That really bled through the rest of our game. We started getting some stops, string those together. We got out on the break and had a little more life to us offensively."
"We just stayed together," said McEwen, who made 8 of 18 shots to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. "We were poised. We weren't really worried about what they were doing. It was more of us. We were beating ourselves more than they were beating us. So once we clamped down on the turnovers, the game started to slow down for us."
Dwayne Brown, Jr. added 15 points and Julion Pearre made four three-pointers for 14 for the Aggies (16-16).
Utah State erased a 15-point deficit and trailed 35-33 at the half. Merrill had back-to-back baskets in a 6-0 run that put the Aggies up for good, 47-44 with 14 minutes to go. The lead got as high as seven before the Rams cut it to 68-65 on a 3-point play by Deion James with 4 1/2 minutes to go. However, Utah State scored the last eight points of the game while the Rams missed their last six shots and finished 1 for 10.
The Aggies, despite going 1 of 10 from distance, shot 56 percent in the second half with a 22-14 rebounding advantage.
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