Utah State holds off Rebels for Mountain West win

Utah State holds off Rebels for Mountain West win

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) —  A clutch 3-pointer by Steven Ashworth helped Utah State hold off a late charge by UNLV and notch a 75-71 Mountain West victory Tuesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah.

Ashworth, who scored 14 points, sank a 3 from the top of the key with a minute left for a 71-69 lead. Then Utah State’s Dan Akin drew a charging foul on Rebels freshman Keyshawn Hall on the ensuing possession.

Sean Bairstow then made a jumper for a four-point Utah State lead with 23 seconds left, pretty much clinching the victory.

A choppy first half doomed the Rebels (12-6, 1-5 Mountain West), said coach Kevin Kruger. His team trailed 46-37 at intermission and seemed a step behind defensively.

“If you are going to have a chance to beat Utah State, especially here, you have to fight your tail off to keep the dribble in front of you,” Kruger said. “I thought in the first half we were just chasing way too much. They are an elite passing team and obviously an elite shooting team —  best in the country — and we were giving them good catch and rhythm shots, which is why we dug that hole.”

Taylor Funk led Utah State (15-4, 4-2) with 20 points, all in the first half. Hall, a freshman playing his first Mountain West game, scored 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting and making all six of his free throws.

Jordan McCabe added 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting, including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, for the Rebels. Teammate Keshon Gilbert contributed 14 points, making 6 of 12 shots.

The Rebels are on the road again Saturday when they play Fresno State (3 p.m., CBS Sports Network).

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