San Diego State needed to get a win against Nevada, not just for their Mountain West Tournament seeding, but also to rebuild their shattered confidence after losing to San Jose State on Tuesday.
They did just that as they held the Wolf Pack to their lowest shooting percentage (29.9%) and points (56) of the year in a 70-56 win. Sophomore guard Trey Kell who finished with 17 points to top 1,000 points in his Aztecs career led San Diego State in scoring. He was followed by Jeremy Hemsley who had 15, Malik Pope who had a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds), and Matt Shrigley who had 10 points.
Pope scored seven of the first nine Aztecs points and as soon as Hemsley and the rest of the Aztecs started chipping in the lead grew to 42-28 at halftime. San Diego State built their lead on some hot shooting and smothering defense. When those two things are clicking the Aztecs are hard to beat, even by one of the best teams in the conference.
Unlike other games where San Diego State let the lead slip away in the second half, this time they played hard for the entire 40 minutes and pulled out the win. The second half was more of the same for Nevada, who was unable to pull together any meaningful runs and bring the score to single digits.
D.J. Fenner had a game-high 21 points for the Wolf Pack. Jordan Caroline (12) and Cameron Oliver (10) were the only other Nevada players to score in double-digits. The big difference between this game and the Wolf Pack’s win in Reno was rebounding.
In the win last month Nevada destroyed the Aztecs on the boards by a margin of 46-34. Today San Diego State out-rebounded the Wolf Pack 41-38.
The win helps the Aztecs jump into the top five of the conference; meanwhile the loss sends the Wolf Pack into third place, behind Boise State and Colorado State.
On Wednesday, the Aztecs will make the trek to Logan, Utah, to face Utah State. Nevada will head to Colorado Springs for a Wednesday night matchup with Air Force.