Justin Bean had a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds and Sam Merrill had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists when the host No. 17 Utah State Aggies closed the first half on a 44-7 run to rout undermanned in-state rival Weber State Wildcats 89-34 on Friday.
Abel Porter had 10 points and 10 assists, Diogo Brito had 12 points and Brock Miller added 11 for the Aggies, who broke a two-game losing streak in the series that matches schools that are 48 miles apart.
The Wildcats played without guard Jerrick Harding, a two-time All-Big Sky selection and the preseason league MVP this year, and his absence was noticeable. He suffered a right ankle injury in the preseason.
The Aggies, who were ranked in the AP Top 25 to open the season for the first time since 1970-71, shot 55.2 percent from the field and had 26 assists. They led by as many as 57.
The Wildcats made only two field goals in the final 17:29 of the first half and went 11 minutes, 40 seconds without a field goal after Israel Barnes' 3-pointer gave them a 6-4 lead.
Utah State went on a 20-2 run before Donatas Kupsas made a 3-pointer, and the Aggies closed the half on a 24-2 run for a 48-13 edge. Merrill's 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half made it 51-13 as the Wildcats experienced another dry spell, going six minutes, 59 seconds without a basket.
Bean, who wears a clear face mask to protect a broken nose suffered in preseason practice, had 15 points and six rebounds in the first half. Merrill had seven points, five rebounds and five assists in the half, and all nine Aggies who played scored.
Kupsas had 10 points for the Wildcats, who shot 21.7 percent. He made two of their four first-half field goals when they were 4-of-22. Guard Cody John, who averaged 14.8 points a game last season, had five points and was 1-of-10 from the field.
--Field Level Media