Riverside - UC Riverside basketball players passed out fliers about the game in school Thursday. Fans lined up two hours before tip-off. The students knew the Aggies were coming to town, thus the 3,168 who got into the "event center" were treated with a win... by the Aggies that is. It was USU's first Conference meeting with the former Division Two school.
And the 13-3, 5-2 Aggies lived up to their billing with renewed defensive commitment and offensive execution that simply squished the enthusiastic Highlanders, 68-42, Thursday evening to solidify USU's hold on second place.
It was the fewest points the Aggies have allowed in a road game in at least 43 years (records don't go back any further), and the 26-point margin was USU's best on the road in 24 years.
Tony Brown lead the Aggies with 20 points on 5-for-8 3-point shooting, Desmond Penigar had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Jeremy Vague had 17 points and six rebounds.
Morrill had said the Aggies needed to get back to what's brought them 40 wins in their last 45 league games —— defense, physical play and emotion. The rebounding has remained an Aggie asset, and they had a 40-33 margin Thursday while holding the Highlanders to .339 shooting, .176 on 3-pointers. Not one Highlander reached double-figure scoring. Vili Morton, the league's top rebounder/shot blocker/field-goal shooter, was held to 4-for-11, seven boards, eight points and four blocks by Vague and Ray, who played a career-high 30 minutes.
Next up for the Aggies is 5-12, 0-6 Cal State Fullerton, where the atmosphere will be the opposite of UCR's, as the Titans draw in the low hundreds most of the time, and their fans are used to seeing USU in the gym.