Merrill drops 37 PTs and Utah St. dumps Montana St. by 30

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Sam Merrill scored a career-high 37 points and Utah State smothered Montana State 101-71 in the season opener for both teams Tuesday night.

In the coaching debut of Utah State’s Craig Smith, Merrill had the ninth-highest scoring total by a visiting player in the history of Worthington Arena. The Aggies missed just three of 26 free throw attempts in the contest.

Utah State overwhelmed the Bobcats on the glass by a 51-25 margin. The Aggies collared 16 offensive rebounds and converted them into 17 points.

The Aggies slowly built their lead and led 29-19 with 7:40 to play before halftime. Montana State trimmed the margin to six twice, but Utah State closed the half by scoring on three straight possessions to grab a 50-34 advantage. Dwayne Brown Jr. scored 15 points for Utah State.

Tyler Hall led the Bobcats with 15 points and Harald Frey scored 13.