The San Diego State Aztecs has showed grit, winning on the road at Colorado State, Utah State, and Boise State. They took their seven game win-streak to Reno against the surging Nevada Wolfpack. Nevada coming off extra adrenaline, after taking down in-state rival UNLV. The Wolfpack were primed to take on Mountain West-leading Aztecs, despite not defeating the Aztecs since joining the Mountain West.
From the tip, Nevada was giving San Diego State matchup problems. Nevada’s Marqueze Coleman came through for the Wolfpack shooting 5-11 and scoring 14 points in the first half. He out hustled the Aztecs a few times, especially once missing his own shot and catching his own rebound, and putting the ball back into the hoop.
The bigger picture for San Diego State at the half was that they kept Nevada under 40% from the field, and 36% from beyond the arc. The Aztec defense, as usual, kept them in the game while they were cold on the floor. The Aztecs shot 24% at the half, and 1-8 on 3-pointers.
In a rare occurrence, the Aztecs started 11-11 from the charity stripe, but ended 13-19 through the half.
Mountain West Player of the Week, Trey Kell led the team into the half with 7 points and ended the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds. His defense stepped up and help get the Wolfpack shooting percentages under 30%.
The Aztecs turned it around in the second half with their defense and hustle to grab rebounds.
The pressure was on for Coleman and the Wolfpack to put this game out of reach, leading the Aztecs as much as seven points, but their misses gave San Diego State four different players with 10 rebounds. In fact, three Aztec players (Kell, Winston Shepard, and Zylan Cheatham) ended the game with double-doubles.
San Diego State didn’t get the runs they wanted until the second half and again late when they took the lead at 52-51. The Aztecs were stuck at 40 points for over 5+ minutes, but their defense and luck kept them in it. Though Nevada's Coleman was hot, no other player stepped up. But credit Nevada's Cameron Oliver and his four blocks that stymied the San Diego State offense.
Kell might have been the star of the game, it was Shepard's senior leadership to draw double-teams in the paint and floor awareness that put the Aztecs in a position to succeed. His free-throws got the Aztecs the 52-51 lead late, and Kell stepped it up with a 3-pointer to push it to 55-51.
Dakarai Allen started for Cheatham due to an apparent discipline issue, but couldn’t get it together, going 0-2 on the floor. But it Cheatham that put in two free-throws in the waning minutes of regulation to put the Aztecs 57-54.
The Aztecs escape with another Mountain West road-victory with the same formula: suffocating defense and stellar guard play.