LOGAN — For Mark Pope, it has been a very trying time in his first season as head coach of the Utah Valley University men’s basketball season. Junior forward Zach Nelson was lost for the season in a car accident over the summer. Hayes Garrity re-injured his right knee and is possibly out for the season. New transfers Ivory Young and Andrew Bastien have sustained injuries. Young rolled his ankle against Denver on Nov. 18 and Bastien is dealing with a recurring knee injury. True freshman Telly Davenport injured his shoulder against Antelope Valley on Nov. 20 and didn’t suit up against Utah State on Tuesday evening.
“I have a lot less guys on my bench,” Pope said. “I’m look out on the floor and I got four walk-ons playing important minutes of a Division I basketball game.
That lack of depth and those injuries showed on Tuesday night as Utah State defeated the Wolverines 81-55 in front of 8,632 fans in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Chris Smith led the way for the Aggies with 17 points and Lew Evans and Jalen Moore had 15 and 11 points, respectively. Evans also had 14 rebounds in a game that was really never close.
UVU took an early lead at 10-6 but USU went on a 12-1 run to take an 18-11 lead and they really never looked back. One of the big plays that turned things around was in the first half when Shane Rector threw up an alley-oop pass to Jalen Moore for the big dunk. It got the crowd going and seemed to deflate the Wolverines.
Konner Frey had 12 points in the first half for UVU but the Wolverines were plagued by miss free throws and getting dominated in the rebounding category. Those two things mixed in with USU shooting 55% from the field led to the Aggies big lead at halftime.
“Utah State is a really really good team,” Pope said. “They’re growing everyday and playing better. They shot the ball much better than they have. Coach is doing a nice job with those guys.”
In the second half, it was much of the same. USU used a 17-4 run to open up a 26-point lead midway through the second half. Lew Evans had six straight points in the run to really put the game out of reach.
UVU saw some life from Dayon Goodman in the second half. Goodman finished with 10 points. However, UVU just could not get anything going offensively as they shot 34% from the field and 25% from 3-point range.
USU out-rebounded the Wolverines 46-25, however UVU did force 18 turnovers compared to committing just 12.
One big stat that says it all about the injuries and lack of depth for UVU is in the bench points. The USU bench outscored UVU’s bench 39-19.
The Wolverines drop to 2-3 on the season and are now 0-2 against in-state opponents, losing by an average of 29 points in both of those games.
UVU takes on UC-Davis on Saturday evening and looks to stay perfect at home. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT in the UCCU Center.
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