Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 | 2 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 | 5:20 p.m.
Final: San Diego State 63, UNLV 52
All that momentum that was on the UNLV men’s basketball team’s side after a win at New Mexico on Wednesday? It apparently didn’t make the trip west. No. 10 San Diego State used a stifling defense to stymie the Rebels 63-52 on Saturday afternoon at Viejas Arena.
Facing former Rebels assistant coach Justin Hutson’s defense, UNLV (11-7, 2-3 Mountain West Conference) shot a paltry 30 percent from the field, including just 24 percent in the first half. Guard Bryce Dejean-Jones led the Rebels with 15 points and point guard Deville Smith chipped in 13.
SDSU (16-1, 5-0 MWC), which snapped a three-game losing streak to UNLV, was led by point guard Xavier Thames’ 18 points. Aztecs forward Josh Davis added 14 points and 13 boards.
From here, the schedule gets easier for UNLV, with a home game against first-year Mountain West team Utah State looming Wednesday followed by contests with the conference’s basement dwellers — Fresno State and San Jose State.
Halftime: San Diego State 34, UNLV 20
Any hopes the UNLV men’s basketball team had for riding a wave of momentum into San Diego on Saturday were quickly dashed. Fresh off a win against New Mexico at The Pit, the Rebels trail No. 10 San Diego State 34-20 at halftime in an anemic shooting display by both teams.
UNLV (11-6, 2-2 Mountain West Conference) started the game by missing 12 of its first 13 shots and entered the half shooting a paltry 24 percent from the floor. Forward Roscoe Smith paced the Rebels with 9 points to go with 4 rebounds. Guard Bryce Dejean-Jones added 6 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
The Aztecs (15-1, 4-0 MWC) didn’t exactly singe the nets either, finishing the half at 35 percent from the field. But SDSU pulled ahead with a 17-2 run late in the period. Star point guard Xavier Thames led the Aztecs with 10 points, and forward Josh Davis chipped in 8 points and 8 rebounds.
The UNLV basketball team has momentum on its side. It’ll need it today at No. 10 San Diego.
The Rebels (11-6, 2-2 Mountain West) picked up their first impressive victory of the season Wednesday at New Mexico, rebounding from home losses to Air Force and UNR.
Now, they’ll have another chance for a marquee win against one-loss San Diego State. But it won’t be easy — the Aztecs, which are nine-point betting favorites, are nearly impossible to beat at Viejas Arena.
UNLV played arguably its best game of the season against New Mexico, receiving 17 points in 33 minutes from point guard Deville Smith and finishing down the stretch.
Can the momentum continue today? We’ll find out soon.