San Diego State, led by Matt Bradley and Darrion Trammell, overcame a spate of turnovers to defeat UNLV 76-67 Saturday.
Bradley led the team with 23 points and Trammell added 21, while Aguek Arop had 12, as the Aztecs celebrated New Year’s Eve with their second conference win.
SDSU (11-3, 2-0 in Mountain West) fell behind 17-10, then got hot, working their way back to surge ahead. An Arop dunk helped light a fire under the Aztecs, who had gone cold, and following a three pointer by Trammell and a jumper by Micah Parrish, they trailed by just two, 21-19.
Arop evened the score with a layup, then pushed San Diego State ahead with another dunk. SDSU, shooting 57% for the half, didn’t trail as they neared the break, building a 14-point lead.
“He did everything for us tonight,” Trammell told San Diego Sports 760 of Arop.
The Runnin’ Rebels (11-3, 0-2 MW) cut the deficit, but missed a chance to narrow it further, failing to take advantage of an Elijah Saunders turnover, as Elijah Harkness missed a three-pointer and Luis Rodriguez saw a dunk bounce out of the hoop with 23 seconds on the clock. After a Bradley miss on a three, SDSU held a 44-33 lead at the half.
The Aztecs, though, failed to score for almost four minutes after play resumed, until Bradley hit a jumper following a Rodriguez three, to maintain a double-digit lead.
Arop again asserted himself with another dunk, but then was charged with an offensive foul and UNLV set out on a 7-0 run. But the Running’ Rebels’ saw their momentum stalled when Justin McCabe fouled Trammell as he attempted a three. The guard made two of three free throws to keep the Aztecs ahead 50-43.
Despite two quick SDSU threes, by Bradley and Trammell, UNLV came back again, with a three by Justin Webster, then capitalizing on a Parrish turnover, Rodriguez dunked, and Harkness followed with a dunk of his own to again cut the deficit to seven.
But San Diego State continued to answer, and though they cooled off in the second half –they shot 45% for the game – UNLV, despite an 11-2 run that brought them within five points of the lead with 4:27 left to play, could not overcome their poor shooting, at 36.7% on the day.
Trammell hit another three and seven free throws down the stretch, a performance that assistant coach Dave Velazquez described as “a monster game for him” to Sports 760.
The Aztecs get a breather heading into the new year – they don’t play again until Jan. 7 when they travel to face Wyoming (5-9, 0-2 MW).