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Aztecs grind out tough win in Vegas over UNLV 63-57

LAS VEGAS NV - FEBRUARY 12:  Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs. San Diego State won 63-57.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS NV - FEBRUARY 12: Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs. San Diego State won 63-57. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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The Aztecs overcame injuries and a raucous crowd and won their fourth straight game over UNLV in a physical game at a sold out Thomas and Mack Center. SDSU was playing without starting guard Chase Tapley (ankle) and reserve forward Tim Shelton (knee), center Brian Carwell was hobbling around the court, and two starting big men Billy White and Malcolm Thomas in foul trouble.

The Aztecs held a lead for the majority of the game but the Rebels closed the gap and took a late lead and it looked like UNLV was going to complete the comeback and get a marquee win on their tournament resume. As it turned out, the Rebels poor 3 point shooting and the Aztecs success at the free throw line sealed the victory for SDSU.

The Rebels followed up their 1-18 3 point shooting in San Diego with a 1-14 performance in this game including no makes in the second half and several late misses which could have given them the victory. The Aztecs, who are known for being poor shooters from the charity stripe, went 20-22 in the game including 9-9 in the closing minutes to seal the victory.

The Rebels had 3 players in double digit scoring, Tre'von Willis with 13, Oscar Bellfield had 12 and Brice Massamba had 11. No Rebel had double digit rebounds but Massamba and Chase Stanback led the way with 6 each. and they shot 37.9% from the field on the game. They were able to attack the paint and get several Aztecs in foul trouble, including Vegas native Billy White who fouled out, but poor shooting from the field as well as from the free throw line doomed UNLV.

Bob Cousy award finalist DJ Gay led the way for the Aztecs with 20 points who also dished out 3 assists while playing the full 40. Kawhi Leonard (14) and James Rahon (12) also scored double digits. Leonard got what seems like his millionth double-double of the season with 10 rebounds and Malcolm Thomas also pulled down 7.