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Blog: San Diego State controls game, tops UNLV 67-52

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L.E. Baskow

San Diego State forward Winston Shepard III (13) grabs the arm of UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. (33) for a foul under the basket with San Diego State forward Skylar Spencer (0) over his back during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, January 30, 2016.

Updated Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 | 7:07 p.m.

UNLV Battles San Diego State

UNLV mascot Hey Reb surfs the crowd while facing San Diego State during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, January 30, 2016. Launch slideshow »

San Diego State 67, UNLV 52

Game over

San Diego State completely dominated the rebounding battle 44-27 and used that to coast to a 67-52 victory against UNLV. The Rebels have now lost seven straight against the Aztecs, plus 13 of the last 16, and they trailed this one nearly the entire way.

Four Aztecs scored in double figures, led by reigning Mountain West Player of the Week Trey Kell at 14 points. For UNLV, Stephen Zimmerman Jr. had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Derrick Jones Jr. scored 12, but junior Ben Carter missed most of the game after leaving with a left-knee sprain. His absence was certainly felt in the rebounding battle, where UNLV essentially lost this game.

UNLV shot 36.7 percent from the field, including 21.7 (5-of-23), beyond the arc, and they didn't do much at the free-throw line, either, hitting 3-of-9. San Diego State shot 44.9 percent from the field.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' defeat.

The Rebel Room

Reno Woes

The Rebels have now lost four out of the last six to in-state rival UNR, which breaks Las Vegas Sun sports editor Ray Brewer's heart. Sun sports writers Case Keefer and Taylor Bern join Brewer to get into that 65-63 loss and discuss whether there will be any lasting effects in this big week at home against Boise State and San Diego State.

Can UNLV get enough transition possessions? There are a lot of things that could go into tonight’s game at the Thomas & Mack Center, but none may be more important than the Rebels’ ability to get out and run in space.

The game between UNLV (13-8, 4-4) and San Diego State (15-6, 8-0) tips off at 5 p.m. in the Mack and it will air on CBS Sports Network.

The Aztecs play one of the slowest tempos in the country because they need fewer possessions in order to limit the impact of an awful offense. Their effective field-goal percentage (45.4) is one of the 30 worst in the country, yet SDSU continues to win because of a stellar defense that dictates tempo.

UNLV plays the majority of its games with at least 70 possessions, including 80 in Wednesday’s victory against Boise State, while SDSU has only eclipsed 70 once in league play. And that game went to overtime.

The more the game slows down, the more comfortable the Aztecs will be. UNLV can’t afford to let that happen, unless the Rebels are also great on the defensive glass and don’t give the visitors extra possessions. But SDSU is good enough on the glass that they’re bound to break through at least a little, and that’s where tempo becomes even more important.

The Rebels want to run against everybody. Today they need to do it to win.

Prediction: It’s not going to be pretty but this won’t be a typically ugly SDSU game, either. My score might be a little high but I’m confident the Rebels will cover. UNLV 69, San Diego State 62

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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