San Diego State, despite missing both their leading point guards, outlasted UNLV Saturday, winning 62-55 in the Mountain West opener for both teams.
Trey Pulliam couldn’t play and Lamont Butler was a last-minute scratch as he continued to recover from an injured wrist.
That gave the Runnin’ Rebels (8-6, 0-1 MW) a prime opportunity to avenge SDSU’s recent dominance over them on their home floor, and in the first half, they led by as many as seven points.
The Aztecs (9-3, 1-0 MW), though were up 35-32 going into the break, as UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton hit a three pointer with two seconds on the clock to pull his team closer.
SDSU began to climb back at the 5-minute mark. Keshad Johnson tied the game at 25 with two free throws, then Aguek Arop dunked following a steal. After a Donovan Williams jumper to tie it up again, Chad Baker-Mazara offered up a steal and a dunk of his own to put his team ahead 29-27.
When the teams returned, UNLV snatched back the lead on a Hamilton jumper. San Diego State answered with an Arop jumper and a three from Baker-Mazara off an assist from Nathan Mensah to go back up 44-40.
After an offensive drought on both sides, the Aztecs slowly rebuild their lead, which grew to eight with three minutes to play.
Matt Bradley led SDSU with 17 points, while Baker-Mazzara added 11. The team also held UNLV to 29.7% shooting.
“Our team defense was phenomenal for the most part tonight,” assistant coach David Velasquez told XTRA 1360.
San Diego State is scheduled to be home Wednesday, hosting Fresno State (10-4, 0-1 MW) in the first of two straight games at Viejas Arena. The Bulldogs though, facing COVID-19 issues, may have to opt out.
Tipoff against Fresno State is 7:30 p.m. if the game can be played.