The San Diego State Aztecs are back in the win column after a huge win against a tough Nevada squad. They suffered a tough loss on the road at New Mexico but responded in a major way.
“Really good win tonight against a very good team,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “I have watched them and they are well coached, they are disciplined, and they got really good players. We had a home court here at Viejas and the home crowd had a lot to do with that.”
The Aztecs improved to (15-3) overall and (4-1) in the Mountain West with the victory. Nevada fell to (15-3) and (2-2) in the MW.
The story of this game was offensive rebounds. SDSU grabbed a massive 20 offensive boards on their way to the win.
“We out rebounded them by 19,” Dutcher said. “We had 20 offensive rebounds and then we got timely stops and they led to fast breaks and I thought the fast-break points were the difference in the game.”
It was all Micah Parrish to start for SDSU. He hit two tough shots in the first few minutes to put the Aztecs up 10-2 early. A big start to the game was necessary coming off a loss.
— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) January 18, 2024
SDSU forced Wolf Pack forward Nick Davidson out of the game early with two fouls. His backup, Tylan Pope, replaced him and immediately picked up two fouls as well. The Aztecs were in the bonus with 10:35 remaining and in the double-bonus with just under six minutes to play in the first half.
However, the Aztecs failed to capitalize on those fouls. They started out the evening going 4-12 from the line. Those misses hurt the Aztecs, but luckily, their stellar defense proved to be more of a factor.
Miles Byrd, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite among the SDSU fanbase, subbed in and made an impact right away. He blocked one shot and poked the ball loose for a steal a few possessions later. He also hit a mid-range jumper along with a three to finish the first half with five points.
“Miles is getting better,” Dutcher said. ” He gambles too much, but we put him in that position tonight. We had him coming off and doubling Blackshear … and he is good at it. I like (Byrd) playing aggressive, he brings an energy to the game that you have to have if you are going to be good. I love his energy and we just need to continue to harness it and get him to play more consistently. He is a massive talent and was a real difference tonight.”
The Aztecs kept fighting against a great Nevada team. Their defense was playing as well as you could have imagined, facing one of the best backcourts in the Mountain West. Jarod Lucas and Kenan Blackshear combined to go 3-10 from the floor in the first half.
With a minute to go in the half, Viejas Arena erupted into a roar of cheers as Elijah Saunders was pumping up the crowd right after a near steal from Reese Waters. The fans at Steve Fisher Court were a major factor in the early success for the Aztecs.
They rode that momentum into the break with a 38-24 lead, making five of their final six shots.
Despite the 14-point difference, Nevada started the second half on fire, making five of their first seven shots. Lucas nailed a three-pointer to bring the score to within seven points as Dutcher then called a timeout to regroup.
Then, a 14-2 run in the middle of the half brought the score back even with just over 10 minutes to go. The Wolf Pack came out the second half as a completely different team.
San Diego State kept fighting. They regained a 7-point lead thanks to their gritty defense.
Nevada couldn’t overcome the Aztecs’ defense and fell short.
“We knew Nevada was a good team,” LeDee said. “I think they are the third-oldest team in the NCAA with a lot of veterans. It’s a game of runs and we stayed cool and we knew we were going to go on our run.”
The Aztecs did just that. They kept their cool and didn’t let the Nevada run hurt their chances. SDSU ended the game on a 17-6 run that propelled them over the Wolf Pack.
SDSU will now face Boise State on the road for one of the bigger games of the season. Boise State is coming off a loss at home to UNLV this past Tuesday night.
News & Stats
- LeDee ended with 22 points and 12 rebounds
- Reese Waters finished with 14 points and seven rebounds
- The Aztecs held Lucas and Blackshear to just 23 points combined on 9-22 shooting.
- For the first time in 17 games, Lucas did not score in double figures.
Chris is a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is the former Sports Editor for the USDVista newspaper. Chris is also an athlete and is huge fan of San Diego sports. Chris has covered the San Diego Loyal, and contributes regularly about the Padres.