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Nevada Basketball falls 68-55 to No. 7 San Diego State after second half meltdown

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NCAA Basketball: Nevada at San Diego State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A second half surge from the San Diego State Aztecs (19-0, 8-0) propelled its 68-55 victory over Nevada men’s basketball Saturday at Viejas Arena.

The Wolf Pack were outscored 35-20 in the second half after leading 35-33 at halftime. Nevada missed 23 of its first 25 shots coming out of halftime. Nevada went without a made basket from the the 16:10 mark in the second half until the 4:56 mark, missing 16 straight shots in that span.

Tuesday’s loss drops Nevada to 11-8 with a 4-3 conference record. Nevada is winless in seven tries on the road against San Diego State since joining the MWC. They have at least one road win versus every other team in the conference.

San Diego State remains the only unbeaten team across Division-I. The Aztecs are one win away from reaching its second 20-0 start in school history, with the other coming from in 2010-11 season — led by two-time NBA Champion and current Los Angeles Clipper, Kawhi Leonard.

Nevada shot 28.1 percent — 14.7 percent in the second half — and 35.7 percent from deep on the evening. The Pack’s 28.1 shooting percentage is the second-worst mark this season, with the worst coming in the Dec. 10 loss versus BYU (.246).

The Aztecs have held its opponents to sub-37.0 percent shooting for the 11th time this season — only trailing Yale (12) for most in the nation.

Two Pack players reached double-digit scoring. Jalen Harris led the way with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-10 from deep. Harris has now tallied double-digit scoring in 15 consecutive games, averaging 19.9 points per game in that span. Jazz Johnson added 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting from deep.

The Aztecs shot 38.3 percent and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc. Yanni Wetzell led the squad with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, hauling in a season-high 16 rebounds. That is Wetzell’s second double-double on the season.

Malachi Flynn — entering as San Diego State’s leading scorer at 16.6 points per game — added 14 points with a team-high seven assists.

A three-point basket from Johnson gave Nevada the early 8-4 advantage with 17:07 left in the first half. Nevada was in foul trouble early, picking up five team fouls in the first five minutes and 12 seconds.

The Aztecs went on an 11-2 run, capped off on a steal-and-score from KJ Feagin to give SDSU a 15-10 lead.

Harris’ second three-point shot tied the contest at 20 with 9:21 remaining. Both teams traded leads for the remainder of the half.

Back-to-back baskets from the Pack gave them a 35-31 lead with 1:02 remaining. Nevada walked into halftime with a 35-33 lead.

San Diego State trailed at halftime only once this season heading into Saturday, with the only time coming on Nov. 29 versus the Iowa Hawkeyes (SDSU trailed 41-32 at half — they won 83-73).

Nevada’s defense, along with its ability to make shots helped give them the halftime advantage. Wolf Pack shot 47.8 percent in the first half — including 7-of-13 from deep — compared to SDSU’s 36.7 percent.

However, the Wolf Pack had a difficult time taking care of the ball, tallying 10 first-half turnovers, leading to six points-off-turnovers for the Aztecs. They finished with 14 on the night compared to SDSU’s 12.

Three consecutive baskets from the Aztecs coming out of halftime gave them a 40-35 lead, prompting a Nevada timeout. The Wolf Pack tied it up at 40 after back-to-back makes from Johnson.

Things did not get better for Nevada. The Aztecs went on a 20-4 run, capped off by a three-pointer from Jordan Schakel to give them a 60-44 lead with 7:43 remaining.

Nevada’s first basket since the 16:10 mark came on a three-pointer from Kane Milling, coming with 4:56 left, cutting the lead to 60-47. Nevada was unable to cut the lead to below 13 points for the remainder of the contest.

The Wolf Pack return home to take on in-state rival UNLV (11-9, 6-1) Wednesday at Lawlor Events Center. Tip off will be at 8 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network.

Tuesday’s loss drops Nevada to 11-8 with a 4-3 conference record