The No. 12 Nevada Wolf Pack lost both their game and claim to the No. 1 spot in the Mountain West standings Saturday to Utah State, which pulled off the 81-76 upset to win and move into first place in the conference.
The Aggies were up as many as 13 points in the second half before Nevada mounted a comeback. Wolf Pack seniors Caleb Martin and Tre'Shawn Thurman had 23 and 21 points, respectively, but Sam Merrill and Utah State were able to outlast Nevada. Utah State was only 5-of-17 as team from beyond the arc, but Merrill was 4 of 7 from deep on top of a 9-of-10 mark on free throws to lead the Aggies. He finished with 29 points and was the defender on this late-game charge call:
Caleb Martin POSTERIZES the defender, but he's called for the charge 😳pic.twitter.com/BkFJMtesN2— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 3, 2019
After struggling with turnovers in a 72-49 loss to Nevada on Jan. 2, Utah State kept control of the ball on Saturday night.
"At their place, we turned it over 20 times and tonight, we turned it over 11 times. We held them to two points in transition and they are electric in transition with a capital E," Utah State head coach Craig Smith told reporters after the game. "That really gave us a chance and kept us in the game. Heck of a win against a fantastic opponent."
The win bumps Utah State to 14-3 in the Mountain West. The Aggies can clinch at least a share of the conference title at Colorado State on Tuesday. Nevada is 13-3 with two games remaining: at Air Force on Tuesday and San Diego State at home on Saturday.