San Diego State is coming off of a loss to instate rival Fresno State. The Bulldogs had this game in their pocket after the first five minutes but couldn’t pull off a win. The Aztecs come into Lawlor Event Center in eight place in the conference standings. Former Aztec coach Steve Fisher taught his teams to play suffocating defense and it led to them being a perennial top team in the MW.
Brian Duetcher the first-year head coach is looking for his 14th victory as SDSU head coach, but the 400th as part of the Aztec coaching staff. He has been on the sidelines for 399 of the program’s 1,455 victories (27.4 percent) so he understands the importance of defense. Defense gives you extra possessions and easy buckets because good defense creates turnovers. Good defense makes every shot attempt a contested one and the best defense which SDSU teams in the past were famous for took teams out of their rhythm. To continue their dominance of Nevada, SDSU will have to be ready to get back to playing that type of defense again.
San Diego State and Nevada will meet for the 18th time Saturday, with the Aztecs owning a 13-4 series lead. The Aztecs have won eight of the last nine meetings between the teams. SDSU is 5-3 against the Wolf Pack in Reno, and has won three of the four encounters at Lawlor Events Center since Nevada joined the Mountain West. The Aztecs have handed Nevada two of its last eight losses at Lawlor Events Center. Since Feb. 4th, 2015, SDSU is 2-1 at Nevada, while the rest of the country is 6-41.
Of San Diego State’s nine losses this season, five have come in games in which SDSU was tied or led at halftime, four have come by four points or fewer, and four have come when SDSU led with five minutes to play in the game. San Diego State has been extremely rough at the end of games this season, but perhaps are a better team than their record indicates . The Aztecs have lost five games in which SDSU had a lead in the final five minutes of the game and is 1-5 in games decided by four points or less. They have not been good at finishing off opponents. Like SDSU teams in the past this team is very talented with a mix of upper class players and new comers. Nevada’s coach Musselman has every reason to be concerned about beating the Aztecs Saturday.
After Wednesday’s loss to UNLV Nevada coach Eric Musselman lamented the lack of defensive intensity by the Pack. He also was critical about his players not hustling and making the 50-50 plays or getting the rebounds at critical moments.
It is obvious that Musselman hates losing and that he especially hates losing to UNLV at home in front of the governor and legendary UNLV killer and inventor of the “Pistol Offense” former football coach Chris Ault. Unfortunately, Musselman did not put a time frame on when Caleb Martin and his 19pts a game will be returning.
Nevada had only seven players see significant action on Wednesday and that could be part of the reason that they couldn’t over take the Rebels. Nevada is not a team with significant height in the post, which will put them at a disadvantage. UNLV’s big men seemed to wear the Wolf Pack down by the end of the game.
Three keys for Nevada to win:
1. Rebound better than they did against UNLV. They did a pretty good job on the offensive glass but they need to do a better job on the defensive boards to limit second chance points.
2. They need to be more active on defense and create more turnovers. They had a real hard time shooting the ball Wednesday. Getting some fast break opportunities will help them get some easy buckets.
3. Lastly, they need to heed coach Musselman and his directive to be more active on defense and to stay in front of their men to limit easy penetration. Without a shot blocker Nevada can’t afford to let the Aztecs go to the rack easily.
Nevada is going to have to hustle to get a win today. They should be very motivated.
Listen to recap of the Nevada loss to UNLV and a verbal preview of SDSU, courtesy of Magpie:
Need a link to watch the game? We have you covered here.