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Boise State looks to knock off San Diego State in MWC quarterfinals

BSU and SDSU meet for a Mountain West rubber match in Vegas.

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a nightmare first half against last-place UNLV, the San Diego State Aztecs salvaged their season and will battle again Thursday night against Boise State.

The defending regular season Mountain West champs played its worst half of basketball all year in the first 20 minutes Wednesday afternoon at Thomas & Mack Center, but had just enough in overtime to pick up the victory. SDSU trailed 32-14 in the first half in what looked to be a potential flameout loss to the worst Rebel team in school history.

UNLV went cold in the second half as the Aztecs manufactured a hefty 24-8 run and eventually grabbed the lead with just under nine minutes remaining in the second half. In overtime, the Rebs couldn’t find the bottom of the net and came away with just two points in the extra period, yielding a 62-52 SDSU victory.

San Diego State will now look to keep the momentum moving in a rubber match with the Boise State Broncos Wednesday night at 8:30pm PT on CBS Sports Network. BSU enters the battle with a 3-3 record in the previous six games, with the three losses coming at the hands of New Mexico, Nevada and Fresno State.

After two matchups last season, Boise State and San Diego State met just once this year, a 78-66 BSU win in Boise. The Aztecs came out of the gates on a scoring tear, leading 23-13 early in the first half but Boise State finished the period with a 10-2 run and the mojo carried into the final 20 minutes, where the Broncos led by as much as 16 in an easy win.

Based on the overall level of play displayed by both UNLV and San Diego State on Wednesday, Leon Rice and Boise State should feel fairly confident about its chances in the quarterfinals. As it goes for seemingly every Aztec game, SDSU’s guards Jeremy Hemsley and Trey Kell need to show up (6-20 combined from the field vs. UNLV) in order to knock off three-seeded Boise State. San Diego State will try to muck up the game and force BSU to opt for difficult shots from the perimeter, which the Broncos have lived (and died) from this season. BSU knocked down an incredible 20 triples in the regular season finale against Air Force, but has been known to cool off considerably when matching up with tough perimeter defenses.

As always, careers will be on the line Wednesday. San Diego State’s Dakarai Allen, Matt Shrigley, D’Erryl Williams, Valentine Izundu and Boise State’s James Reid and Nick Duncan will hope that Wednesday night is not the final time they appear in a college basketball game.

The winner of Thursday night’s game will play the winner from the Colorado State and Air Force matchup, which tips at 6pm PT.