UNLV’s feel short in its attempt to upset undefeated, fourth-ranked San Diego State Sunday afternoon. The two teams traded leads multiple times in the second half, but the Aztecs were too much for the Rebels.
“For us to get over the hump against a really good team,” T.J. Otzelberger said after the loss, “we’re going to have to be very attentive to every detail and not make mistakes. Play mistake free basketball, that wasn’t the case out there today.”
UNLV scored the first basket, but San Diego State quickly took the lead back. The Aztecs’ lead grew to as high as nine in the first half.
Trailing 34-28 at halftime, UNLV went on a 12-4 run at the start of the second half to take the lead and energize the Thomas and Mack crowd.
UNLV showed incredible fight against a much more talented team, but the Rebels’ struggles on offense dragged them down into a hole they could not get out of.
Elijah Mitrou-Long, who returned for the Rebels after missing time with a thumb injury, hit a three-pointer with 11:52 left in the second half.
UNLV would not score again for the next 5:28.
Yet, another game where UNLV’s offensive struggles putting them behind and taking them out of a game.
The Rebels got another outstanding performance form Bryce Hamilton, who scored 29 points and had 10 rebounds. Aside from Marvin Coleman, who had 11, no other Rebel scored more than eight.
UNLV outshot San Diego State from the field, 43.6 percent, and from three, 30.8 percent. The Rebels had its struggles from the free-throw line, shooting 64.7 percent, 11 of 17. Even with the advantage, multiple Rebel players had trouble scoring.
Amauri Hardy only had two points on 16.7 percent shooting. Donnie Tillman only had five points off the bench. And Jonah Antonio, who only played four minutes, missed all three of the shots he took.
UNLV’s offense lacked flow and movement. The Rebels did not take advantage of fast-break opportunities, instead, settling and let its offense run. It turned out to be a bad decision, as it gave the Aztecs time to set up its defense.
Otzelberger even said he wanted his team to push the pace more often, “They are really good when you let the get their defense set. And I think we needed to be more intentional with our push at times to avoid that.”
The seasoned and veteran led Aztecs showed great poise against the Rebels when they made a run. Offensively, they did not turn the ball over, only having four in the first 39 minutes, (with two in the final minute.)
Otzelberger said San Diego State is able to be in the right spot at the right time on defense. “They find ways to win those games…they don’t let mistakes pile up.”
Malachi Flynn lead the Aztecs with 21 points. Trey Pulliam had 18 points off the bench. The Aztecs improve to 21-0, the best start in school history.
The Rebels fall to 6-3 in the Mountain West and now sit in a tie for second place with UNR. UNLV returns to the floor Saturday afternoon at Colorado State.