Darius Brown II's seven 3-pointers lead No. 22 Utah State past San Jose State 90-70 for MWC title

Thu, Mar 7, 2024
NCAAB News (AP)

Darius Brown II's seven 3-pointers lead No. 22 Utah State past San Jose State 90-70 for MWC title

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Darius Brown II scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers, Mason Falslev had 20 and No. 22 Utah State beat San Jose State 90-70 Wednesday night to clinch a share of the Mountain West Conference regular-season title.

Great Osobor added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Javon Jackson scored 15. Brown's hot shooting fueled Utah State's 53% clip from the field and 59% mark from long distance. Brown made his first six 3-point attempts before missing his first shot seven minutes into the second half. Falslev was 8 of 11 from the field.

The Aggies (25-5, 13-4 Mountain West ) can claim their first outright regular-season conference title with a win Saturday against New Mexico, which would continue an unexpected run under first-year coach Danny Sprinkle. Utah State made the NCAA Tournament last season, but was picked to finish ninth in the league this year after adding 13 new players and returning zero points from last year's team. The Aggies also won a share of the regular-season title in 2019.

"You know there's something special," Sprinkle said. "We'll probably realize that a lot more in a couple of years. And even our fan base will realize it in a couple of years as time goes on. To have 13 brand new guys playing together, it's pretty incredible."

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Jackson pointed to the work the team has been putting in all season.

"Most people will say it was luck," he said. "But the stuff we've been doing since summer time, we wouldn't say it was luck. We were picked ninth in the Mountain West. And to come out here and be co-champs or outright champs, it's kind of unbelievable."

Sprinkle said he had a feeling his team would come out focused Wednesday after holding a players-only meeting before the game. Afterward, there wasn't much celebrating in the locker room - with another task at hand.

"When they talk about the '23-24 Utah State Aggies men's basketball team, they always have to say 'champion,'" Sprinkle told his team in the locker room. "Now, are they going to say 'outright champions,' or just 'champions'"?

Utah State has won 11 of the last 12 against San Jose State (9-22, 2-16). The Aggies have won six of seven overall, while the Spartans dropped their sixth straight to end their regular season.

The Aggies, already up double digits at halftime, jumped ahead by 20 early in the second half on a fast-break dunk by Falslev off a San Jose State turnover.

Utah State improved to 15-1 when at least four players finish in double figures.

Myron Amey Jr. led San Jose State with 20 points.

The Aggies opened a 53-37 halftime lead on the strength of their 3-point shooting, ending the half with three consecutive makes by Jackson, Brown and Falslev.

Brown made all four of his 3-point attempts in the half, which the Aggies closed on a 26-11 run after the Spartans had hung close for much of the half. Brown, a graduate senior, has served as a leader all season and been a microcosm of the Aggies' success, according to Sprinkle.

"I think he flies under the radar for whatever reason," Sprinkle said. "He doesn't get the recognition nationally, even in the conference. That's part of our team, and that's why we have a chip on our shoulder. We're going to continue to have that chip because for him to lead a team of 13 brand new people to a championship, it shows what kind of point guard he is."

BIG PICTURE

San Jose State: The Spartans ended the regular season with just two conference wins, both against Air Force - the other two-win team in the Mountain West.

Utah State: The Aggies are likely to finish the regular season with eight appearances in the Top 25, the second-longest streak in school history.

UP NEXT

San Jose State: Awaits its first opponent in the MWC Tournament next week.

Utah State: Will host New Mexico on Saturday.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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