Aztecs lose tough game on the road against UNLV 62-58

Credit: UNLV Athletics

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Credit: UNLV Athletics

The San Diego State Aztecs and UNLV Runnin’ Rebels squared off in Las Vegas for Senior Night. This late-season conference battle had more stakes than originally anticipated, as both SDSU and UNLV entered the game tied for 3rd in the Mountain West with an 11-5 record along with Nevada.

Now, SDSU falls to third place in the conference as UNLV jumps them to a 3-way tie for second with Nevada and Boise State. The Wolf Pack defeated Boise State tonight to remain in the hunt for the top seed.

Dedan Thomas Jr. hit the winner with roughly 18 seconds left to put UNLV up two.

San Diego State is now 22-8 on the year and 11-6 in the conference. UNLV is now 19-10 on the year and 12-5 in the MW. The Aztecs will return to Vegas next week for the Mountain West Tournament.

It was a disastrous start for the Aztecs. They started 0-13 from the floor until Reese Waters nailed a fadeaway three from the left corner. UNLV led 16-5 with less than 12 minutes in the first half before the Aztecs could make their second field goal of the contest.

The offense looked flat. They kept running the same dribble-handoff offense, trying to feed LeDee in the paint. The UNLV defense did a great job of not allowing SDSU to get it to LeDee. UNLV made sure that LeDee was not going to beat them early on in this game, and he missed his first two free throw attempts.

Down 18-5, Darrion Trammell proceeded to get fouled on a three-point attempt. He nailed all three and then immediately stole the ball, resulting in a LeDee putback layup.

The lead was down to eight, and the immediate thought was that SDSU could begin a comeback. However, the Rebels had other plans.

Keylan Boone and the Rebels started 5-8 from deep to increase their lead to 17 points. UNLV led 27-10 with just under eight minutes remaining and the Aztecs only had two made baskets. SDSU started a miserable 2-25 from the field before Elijah Saunders swished a three to cut the lead to 14.

The Aztecs’ dominant defense started to kick in. UNLV didn’t make a field goal for roughly four minutes. Lamont Butler and Saunders hit threes on back-to-back possessions as SDSU cut the lead to just five points.

That was a quick turnaround after it seemed UNLV would control the entire first half of this contest.

UNLV led 33-28 at the break. SDSU trailed by only five after being down as much as 17.

The Rebels started the second half strong, but Saunders kept the Aztecs in it with eight straight points. His point total reached a team-high 14 points and was playing the game of his career.

Miles Byrd then followed with a triple of his own, and the Aztecs trailed by just one point with 11:48 remaining. The Aztecs found their rhythm as crunch time was approaching. Byrd almost gave the Aztecs their first lead of the game, but his dunk attempt on the fast break was blocked. UNLV proceeded to score on the other end to go up three points.

With just 44 seconds left, Lamont Butler made a layup to tie the game at 58.

SDSU had a chance to steal a win in Vegas, but Thomas Jr. said otherwise. His tough jumper over Jay Pal was the moment of the game, and the Rebels deserve credit for how they played out there.

The Aztecs will try and bounce back as they host Boise State on Friday at 7:00 pm. SDSU aims to go a perfect 15-0 at Viejas Arena. With a win, they will have a chance at a top-4 seed. With a loss, SDSU will likely be the 5-seed in the Mountain West Tournament.

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Stats & News

  • The final home game will be Senior Night for LeDee, Butler, Trammell, Parrish, and Pal. That could very well again be the starting five for Dutcher as he goes with the all-senior lineup.
  • Saunders led with 14 points on 5-10 shooting. He added 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal
  • LeDee finished with 12 points on 2-12 shooting. He added 7 rebounds
  • Parrish ended with 11 points and 5 rebounds
  • Dedan Thomas Jr. and Keylan Boone finished with a combined 35 points.

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