LOGAN, Utah (AP) Ian Martinez scored 21 points to lead No. 22 Utah State to a 72-60 victory over Air Force on Friday night.

Martinez had his fifth 20-point game of his career after shooting 7-of-10 from the field. It was a nice bounce back performance for the senior guard after totaling 10 points and three field goals over his previous two contests.

When he knocked down a 3-pointer for his first basket just a minute into the game, Martinez instantly felt like he was back on track offensively.

“I had been missing a lot of shots lately so it kind of got my confidence going,” Martinez said. “I think it gave us a little rhythm too. The mentality was just to come in and get the first punch in the first four minutes, try and set the tone.”

Mason Falslev added 10 points, six rebounds, and five assists to help the Aggies (24-5, 12-4 Mountain West) win their third straight game. Utah State outscored Air Force 16-0 in fastbreak points. The Aggies also totaled 11 steals and forced 13 turnovers overall.

Ethan Taylor led Air Force with 15 points. Rytis Petraitis chipped in 14 points and Beau Becker added 12 for the Falcons (9-19, 2-14), who lost for the ninth time in 10 games.

Utah State made six straight baskets and scored on eight consecutive possessions overall to build a 34-19 lead late in the first half. Martinez led the charge with two baskets and a pair of free throws during that decisive stretch.

“He’s just really hard to guard,” Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle said. “When we space correctly and he goes one-on-one, he’s going to draw two defenders and he’s a willing passer.”

Air Force trimmed the deficit to single digits after halftime, cutting Utah State’s lead to 56-48 with 12:14 left after Taylor and Becker knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.

That’s as close as Air Force got before the Aggies pulled away again. The Falcons endured a seven-minute scoring drought, opening the door for Utah State push its lead back to double digits.

“We had five possessions in a row where we didn’t execute,” Air Force coach Joe Scott said. “We weren’t doing what we were doing (earlier). You can’t do it against a team like this. You can’t do it against any team in this league basically because everyone is good.”

Javon Jackson’s fastbreak layup capped an 11-0 run that gave the Aggies a 67-48 lead with 5:27 remaining.

Utah State’s stifling defense gave the Aggies breathing room during a quiet second half offensively where they made only eight field goals.

“That’s our staple,” Sprinkle said. “If we don’t guard, we don’t have a chance.”


Air Force has never won a road game against a ranked opponent and fell to 4-91 all-time against ranked teams.

Utah State led wire to wire while taking another step closer to clinching a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title.


Air Force visits Wyoming on Tuesday.

Utah State visits San Jose State on Wednesday.


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

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