Published Friday, March 11, 2011 | 8:33 p.m.
Updated Friday, March 11, 2011 | 10:40 p.m.
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 69, Air Force 53
- Instant analysis: Lackluster crowd doesn’t slow UNLV in league tourney win
- San Diego State prepared for third meeting with UNLV after first-round win
- New Mexico ousts Colorado State; Will third win over BYU get Lobos back in bubble conversation?
- BYU escapes TCU’s first round upset bid
- LIVE GAME BLOG: UNLV advances to face San Diego State on Friday night with 69-53 victory over Air Force
- Tre’Von Willis ‘shocked’ by second team All-Mountain West Conference nod (3-8-2011)
- Unveiling the Sun’s 2010-11 MWC hoops postseason honorees (3-6-2011)
- 2010-11 UNLV Schedule
- All Sun UNLV men's basketball coverage
Final, SDSU wins 74-72
UNLV had a shot at the go-ahead bucket with less than 30 seconds to play, but a lob toss to Chace Stanback was broken up, setting the stage for San Diego State's eight win in nine tries against the Rebels in the last three years.
D.J. Gay controlled the ball, knifed the lane and hit a floater with 4.9 seconds remaining to give San Diego State a 74-72 victory over UNLV.
The Rebels will head into Selection Sunday knowing they're in the NCAA tournament's field of 68 with a record of 24-8, but now will be flirting with landing in the dreaded No. 8 or No. 9 slot in one of the four regions.
San Diego State advances to face BYU in tomorrow's 4 p.m. title game at the Mack. The Aztecs, now 31-2, suffered their only two losses of the regular season against BYU.
Kawhi Leonard led the Aztecs with 18 points, while D.J. Gay's late jumper gave him 15.
Chace Stanback led all scorers with 22 points for UNLV in the loss, while Tre'Von Willis scored 19. UNLV was 25-of-55 from the floor and 5-of-15 from deep, and out-rebounded SDSU 32-31.
For full postgame coverage, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
3:39, Second Half, game tied 66-66
Foul trouble is starting to play into things in a big way here at the Mack, as UNLV and San Diego State are tied, 66-66, with 3:39 left to play in a heated battle.
Kawhi Leonard has four fouls for San Diego State after Tre'Von Willis drove at him time after time to draw them. Both teams are in the double-bonus in the closing minutes.
Willis now has a game-high 19 points in one of his strongest offensive performances of the season, while Chace Stanback has 18.
UNLV's defense has remained strong throughout the half, as San Diego State is just 8-of-21 from the floor since the break.
The game was tied just before the last TV timeout when Billy White was called for goaltending on a Chace Stanback layup attempt in transition.
11:44, Second Half, San Diego State leads 55-51
The Rebels have started to lock in on the defensive end, which was an issue for them in the first 20 minutes.
In turn, UNLV has closed back within range of UNLV, trailing 55-51 with 11:44 left to play at the Mack.
The Aztecs are just 3-of-12 from the floor this half as everything has been contested so far, and the Rebels also feasted on a lineup without Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas on the floor.
On offense, Anthony Marshall has started to take charge a bit, earning two big trips to the free throw line and also throwing down a two-handed dunk for his second bucket of the game. Tre'Von Willis had a huge and-one lay-up to start the half.
An interesting trend to watch down the stretch will be San Diego State's free throw shooting, as the Aztecs are already in the bonus. So far tonight, they are 10-of-12 from the stripe.
Statistically, UNLV is 20-of-43 from the floor, 4-of-10 from deep and 7-of-7 from the free throw line. SDSU currently owns a 26-21 edge in the rebounding department.
Halftime, San Diego State leads 44-34
Chace Stanback, who combined for 13 points in the two regular season meetings with San Diego State, went on a personal 14-point run to help UNLV get close to the Aztecs late in the first half.
And a late spurt by SDSU helped the tournament's No. 2 seed spread it right back out for a 44-34 halftime edge at the Mack.
Stanback was 6-of-9 from the floor in his 16 minutes on the floor, while the rest of the team is 8-of-22 and lacking the flow it's shown in a six-game win streak leading into tonight's nightcap.
Tre'Von Willis is 3-of-9 with eight points, three assists and three steals, but that's about the end of the positives for the Rebels, who are again struggling against the Aztecs' length and athleticism.
For SDSU, D.J. Gay has snuck up again and been an offensive terror. The Aztecs' floor general has 11 points off of 3-of-3 shooting from deep, while Las Vegas native Billy White is leading the way with 12.
UNLV grabbed a lead with 5:33 to go in the opening stanza, but the Aztecs closed on a tear. Gay hit his third trifecta, then Billy White scored four huge points in the closing minute. He got a layup in transition, but was fouled by Justin Hawkins while putting it up. The foul was ruled intentional, making it a 4-point play for SDSU.
The Rebels still look OK on offense in terms of production, but are getting eaten up on the defensive end, which is a bit of a rarity. That's where a comeback will have to start.
10:22, First Half, San Diego State leads 18-11
UNLV is just 5-of-15 early on from the floor early on, and the offensive flow that BYU has had in bulk of late is nowhere to be seen so far.
The Rebels are banging successfully with the Aztecs underneath, with the rebounding battle tied at 10-10, but UNLV is just 1-of-4 from the outside and did not get off to the hot start and early lead it wanted on these guys.
The problem right now is that SDSU is a tough team to play against from behind.
SDSU, meanwhile, is getting a focused showing so far from Billy White. The hometown product has six points and three offensive rebounds in the game's first 10 minutes. He's under control emotionally, which is the most important part right now for the Aztecs.
Well, the night already has a leg up on last year's legendary semifinal Friday night at the Mountain West Conference tournament.
BYU's Jimmer Fredette, who is likely well on his way to National Player of the Year honors, scored an incredible 52 points in leading BYU to an 87-76 victory over New Mexico in the night's first game. The Cougars advance to the 4 p.m. Saturday league title game.
Who they face is yet to be determined, as UNLV and San Diego State are getting set to tip off for that right.
Before it gets going, here's three things I'll be watching for tonight from the Mack.
1) Here's the moment of truth for the improved Quintrell Thomas. He's played well of late in wins over Air Force, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. But can he finally do it against San Diego State? He's played 15 minutes in the two regular season meetings combined and been generally ineffective. That has to change for the Rebels to have a legitimate shot tonight.
2) Even though SDSU beat Utah by 14 in comfortable fashion last night, the Aztecs were sloppy. They got sped up and out of their element a bit, and it appears that late in the season, all of the leaning on D.J. Gay has had its effect on the SDSU offense. Can UNLV get things up and down like Utah did? If so, the game will play right into the Rebels' favor.
3) UNLV tied a season-high with 11 3-point makes last night. They don't need to hit 11 again tonight to win, but have to do better than the 2-for-33 they are in two games against SDSU this season. No question about it. Chace Stanback's had a tough career against these guys, and needs to bust the slump tonight.
As for a prediction and Pick to Click, I'm taking UNLV, 67-60. Why? Well, they're due and playing better heading into this one than they were heading into the first two meetings. My Pick to Click is Anthony Marshall. He had a rough night last night and rarely has two in a row this season, no matter who the opponent is.
Remember, to join the conversation below via Twitter, add the #unlvmbb hashtag to your in-game tweets, or give me a follow at twitter.com/ryanmgreene. Talk to you after tip-off.