Malachi Flynn, shooting a three against Nevada. He scored a career-high 36 as the Aztecs closed out their record-setting season. Photo credit: @Aztec_MBB via Twitter

San Diego State, facing a hot Nevada team to cap its toughest stretch of the season, took control late against the Wolf Pack, as Malachi Flynn scored 36 to lead the Aztecs to a 83-76 win.

With Saturday’s victory in Reno, No. 5 SDSU now holds the best record in Mountain West conference history, 17-1. That tops Utah, which in 2004-05 finished 13-1 in conference play.

The Aztecs, with an overall regular season record of 28-1, locked down the Mountain West championship Feb. 11, and the team, still undefeated at the time, was cruising.

That’s until UNLV handed them their first loss one week ago, and Colorado State pushed them hard Tuesday. Nevada, 19-10 overall and 12-5 in the conference, did the same Saturday, as the Wolf Pack looked to win their seventh straight.

The teams traded leads until Nevada took over near the end of the first half. They were up by 10 with a minute remaining, and enjoyed a 45-36 lead going into the break.

SDSU turned the ball over nine times during the half as Nevada played fierce defense, while Jalen Harris powered their offense with 17 points. Flynn had 22 for the Aztecs.

When play resumed, it was still all Nevada, as they extended their lead to 13, then Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel got into foul trouble. Yet the Aztecs steadily ate away at the lead until they jumped ahead on two Adam Seiko free throws, 58-57.

KJ Feagin gave them a scare, as he turned an ankle and had to leave the game after the 13-minute mark. On his return, he nailed the three-pointer that put the Aztecs ahead 68-66.

Nevada came within three on two Harris free throws with a minute to play, but SDSU did not give up the lead again. Flynn set a career high with his 36 points.

“We’re ready for March,” coach Brian Dutcher told XTRA 1360 after the game, which drew 10,855 to the Lawlor Events Center.

It was another day of big shifts in college basketball as powers lost to unranked teams.

No. 2 Baylor fell to TCU, 75-72, while Clemson dropped No. 6 Florida State 70-69. No. 7 Duke lost their second in a row, this time to Virginia.

In addition, No. 24 Michigan State overpowered No. 9 Maryland 78-66.

The Mountain West tourney begins Wednesday in Las Vegas, with the top-seeded Aztecs set to play at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. They will take on the winner of Wednesday’s game between the conference eighth and ninth seeds, Fresno State and Air Force. 

– Staff reports

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