If there’s one thing that gets the Spectrum crowd roaring, it’s the clutch highlight-reel three-pointer.
Well, that and dunking. I guess timely blocks too, and opposing players fouling out, and free T-shirts, and the stupid flex cam. You know what? Most everything brings the Spectrum’s noise level up a notch or two, but Utah State men’s basketball has sneakily excelled beyond the arc this season, and it recently translated to a key win against the visiting Wyoming Cowboys in the form of Jalen Moore’s most clutch bucket in an Aggie uniform.
So let’s look at some numbers real fast.
The Aggies boast three of the conference’s ten best 3-point shooters — no other team has more than one guy on the list. Freshman guard Sam Merrill, last seen haunting Marcus Marshall’s nightmares, happens to be shooting the deep ball at a 44.7 percent clip when he’s not busy blanketing opposing backcourts. Who needs experience anyway? Merrill has already cemented himself firmly in the Aggies’ plans for the future. Dude needs to shoot more — nearly nine points per game on seven shots means the young gun should be taking more shots. Merrill is currently the third-most reliable 3-point shooter in the conference.
Next, Koby McEwen. King Koby. The Maple Mamba. He-who-retweets-everyone. The Toronto native has already put his name out there as one of the state’s most exciting players to keep tabs on. He’s a steady 15-point shot in the arm to the Aggie offense every night, averaging a pair of threes per game on 40.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc — good enough to rank no. 9 in the conference.
In his first season of collegiate ball, McEwen is flirting with a few categories in the 50-40-90 gold standard for offensive efficiency — 48.9 percent from the floor, 40.8 from deep and… ouch, just 70.8 from the foul line. Okay, so there’s still work to be done, but the kid is a raw freshman starter with three glorious years still ahead of him.
It only makes sense that the Mountain West’s sixth-best scorer ranks in the top ten in 3-point percentage. Senior wing Jalen Moore rounds out the top ten list at no. 10, just beneath McEwen at 40.2 percent shooting. Moore has effectively carved his name into every top-ten career stat in USU basketball’s history books, the defining player in a transition era of Aggie hoops with dependable play and a trademark fro.
There’s a good chance USU fans will only notice Moore’s true impact on the team once he’s gone, which is sad and probably worth a whole column’s worth of thought all on its own. But while he’s still here, Moore’s presence in the locker room and consistently full stat line have kept Aggie fans’ spirits high despite a back-and-forth season of conference play. If there’s any hope of making a deep run in next month’s conference tournament, Moore’s leadership and the hot shooting of two freshman guards will serve as the foundation.