The Bulldogs saw their modest season-opening win streak snapped at three games. MSU will return to the Humphrey Coliseum for a 1 p.m. start Wednesday against in-state rival Jackson State.
“This game was real simple,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “They can shoot and we can’t. We couldn’t guard them and they could guard us. They beat us up in the boards. We have a false sense of who we are because we are living on our offense.
“Everybody is shooting above 40 percent from us and we can’t have that.”
Utah State scored five straight points to build an early 13-6 lead. MSU cut it back to 17-16 on a Gavin Ware dunk and 3-pointer from Jacoby Davis. The Aggies scored the game’s next seven points and quickly led 24-16.
Utah State hit six first-half 3-point baskets early foul troubles caused a shuffling of the MSU line, as the Aggies led 41-28 at halftime.
The Bulldogs closed within nine twice and then eight at 51-43 on two free throws by Ware. Utah State followed with a 10-0 run, which was eventually halted on a 3-point basket by Dre Applewhite.
MSU got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“The loose balls, they beat us to every last one of them,” Ray said. “We have to work on finding our identity on the defensive end. We have a lot of players who have gotten better on offense but that is not where we are going to win games this year.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 26 of 57 shots from the field (45.6 percent), 5 of 16 shots from 3-point range (31.3 percent) and 11 of 17 shots from the foul line (64.7 percent). The Aggies hit 28 of 54 shots from the field (51.9 percent), 11 of 23 shots from the 3-point range (47.8 percent) and 20 of 27 shots from the foul line (74.1 percent).
Utah State held a 41-23 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 18 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Aggies had 19 assists and 16 turnovers.
Ware posted his third double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds for MSU. Colin Borchert added 15 points, while Craig Sword added 11 points and Applewhite added 10 points.
Utah State received 21 points from TeNale Roland, 17 points from Jarred Shaw and 16 points from Spencer Butterfied.