Danny Sprinkle coaches Utah State to long-awaited NCAA tournament victory

NCAA TCU Utah St Basketball
Posted at 10:54 PM, Mar 22, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Ian Martinez scored 21 points, Isaac Johnson had 19 and No. 8-seeded Utah State, coached by former Montana State coach Danny Sprinkle, ran past No. 9 seed TCU 88-72 in a first-round game in the Midwest Region of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Friday.

The victory snapped Utah State's 10-game NCAA tournament losing streak and broke a string of 19 losses in its previous 20 appearances. The No. 8-seeded Aggies will play No. 1 seed Purdue in a second-round game on Sunday.

It was the first tournament victory for Sprinkle, a Helena High graduate and former Montana State player and coach.

Sprinkle guided MSU to the NCAA tourney in 2022 and 2023 but the Bobcats lost in the first round in both years as a 14 seed. He also helped Montana State reach the tournament as a freshman guard in 1996, but the 13th-seeded Bobcats lost in the first round to No. 4 Syracuse, the eventual national runner-up.

It was Utah State's largest margin of victory in an NCAA tournament.

Two former Montana State players who transferred to Utah State when Sprinkle took the Aggies coaching job last April had a big impact: Forward Great Osobor finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and guard Darius Brown II contributed 10 points, four rebounds and 10 assists.

The Aggies became one of three Mountain West teams to win an NCAA tournament game this year, joining Colorado State and San Diego State.