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Mountain West tournametn: San Diego State top Nevada to advance to title game

The San Diego State Aztecs hold on to shot at automatic bid, defeating the Nevada Wolf Pack 67-55

Winston Shepard celebrates the Aztecs' victory at the Thomas & Mack Center
Winston Shepard celebrates the Aztecs' victory at the Thomas & Mack Center
Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack, 67-55, in the Mountain West Semi-Final. The Aztecs gave another roller-coaster performance again, making it off the court with their heads held high.

San Diego State previously escaped defeat from the struggling Utah State Aggies, which were playing loose and better than the gritty little Aztecs. Nevada earned their first victory in the Mountain West tournament against the New Mexico Lobos, and knew what they were up against, losing to the Aztecs in Reno two months prior.

Tonight's meeting almost followed the Aztecs-Aggies script to a tee, including the slow start with multiple missed free throws and then blowing a double-digit lead into the second half. The Wolf Pack surged in the second half and tied sending Aztecs fans into relapse.

During the last meeting, three Aztecs hit double-doubles (Trey Kell, Winston Shepard, Zylan Cheatham). This time around an influenza-stricken Trey Kell put the team on his back making clutch shots. He only scored two points in the first half, but shined in the second half when the Wolf Pack went on a 13-4 run to open up the half.

When the Aggies tied it up, Kell scored on the next two following Aztec possessions. Kell eventually scored 13 points in the second half. Despite going back-to-back games with 15-plus point totals, but tonight has to be Kell's best performance of the two, as his 15-point total half put the Aztecs in the championship round.

The Wolf Pack wished they had more of Marqueze Coleman on the floor as he led Nevada scorers with 21 points during their last meeting. Coleman was useless accumulating three personal fouls in the first half, in addition to injuring his ankle. In his place, Cameron Oliver and Tyron Criswell led the charge for Nevada with 21 and 14 points respectively.

Though it almost followed the Aztecs-Aggies script, the Aztecs-Wolf Pack script share the same theme: Aztec defense.

San Diego State held Nevada field goals under 35% and 31% at the half. Nevada also didn't shoot well from beyond the arc going 12.5%. The Wolf Pack couldn't find an equalizer to fully steal momentum away. Despite scares for San Diego State like Skylar Spencer limping with a banged knee and Trey Kell's health, the Wolf Pack played sloppy and ran out of gas late into the second half. Even though we all witnessed a rare foul out from Skylar Spencer, San Diego State's bench was deep enough to roll over the Wolf Pack.

The Aztecs now face the winner of Colorado State-Fresno State in the final round of the Mountain West Tournament with an automatic bid to the dance on the line.