No. 25 San Diego State beats UNLV in a sound defeat

San Diego State defeats UNLV 82-71

San Diego – The San Diego State Aztecs faced off against the UNLV Runnin Rebels in an afternoon battle at Viejas Arena. This was the first time an Aztec basketball contest was televised on Fox. The last time the two teams faced off in San Diego was the 2020 season when UNLV ended the Aztec’s remarkable 26-game win streak. This season when these two teams met Matt Bradley became the ninth active player to reach 2000 career points. 

The Aztecs started this game off with back-to-back slams from the two big men Mensah and Johnson. In the game, UNLV struggled immensely guarding the Aztec big men as Keshad Johnson had 12 first-half points going 5/6. The Aztecs had a total of 6 first-half dunks with Lamont Butler even getting in on the action.

The Aztecs also got it going from behind the arc starting the game 4-7. They would finish the game going 12-28 (42.9%) from three. 6th-year senior Adam Seiko led the team from behind the arc with 6 three-pointers and led the team in points with 18. 

The offense wasn’t the only thing that was clicking in the first half, the defense was as good as it’s been all season forcing 7 turnovers and holding the Runnin Rebels to just 23 points. Besides 5th-year senior EJ Harkless UNLV only had 9 first-half points. They struggled significantly in the first half going on several scoring droughts lasting up to four minutes.

In the second half, the Runnin Rebels would flip the switch scoring 48 points and going 16-30 from the field. They were able to get contributions from more than just Harkless who finished the game with 24 points. They were able to get help from the big man from Hong Kong David Muoka and Keshon Gilbert with 12 and 15 points respectively in the second half. 

Matt Bradley was very consistent for the game going 6/8 from the field and 3/5 from three. I asked him postgame how important getting going from three is and he said it is an “added bonus” and that this team has many elite scorers even if he isn’t knocking it down from range. 

Inside the paint this afternoon it was Nathan Mensah who had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. 

Coach Dutcher in the post-game press conference spoke on the turnovers issue as the Aztecs had 21 turnovers on the game today, the same amount they had in their previous meeting in Las Vegas. Dutcher stated that the team in the second half was hurt on the high ball screen. He said they did a better job of guarding it in the first half but need to stay consistent throughout the game. He mentioned that the next team they play, Fresno State, does a great job of utilizing highball screens and hopes to do well in defending that in the next contest. 

UNLV leads the conference in forcing turnovers. I asked coach Dutcher about the late-game press break issues the team has had this season and he expressed that they have been improving on that as a team since the Nevada game and hope to carry that into March.

The Aztec’s next game will be on the road against Fresno State (9-15) on CBS Sports Network. 

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