Published Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 | 3 p.m.
The final buzzer just sounded, but this one has been over for the Rebels for quite a while. San Diego State led by 20-plus points for most of the second half and cruised to a 94-56 win.
UNLV was helpless on the defensive end, as SDSU shot 50.7 percent and made 11-of-26 from 3-point range. Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell combined to score 39 points on 15-of-23 shooting.
Offensively, the Rebels looked rushed from the very start and ended up committing 19 turnovers. San Diego State turned those giveaways into 29 points.
UNLV's modest three-game winning streak is now a thing of the past, and the Rebels (19-8, 8-6 MWC) will have to regroup for Wednesday's home game against Fresno State.
Rebels trail at San Diego State, 63-33
San Diego State just got back-to-back 3-pointers from Max Montana and Jordan Schakel, and the Aztecs' lead has ballooned to 63-33 with 14:17 to play.
SDSU is now 7-of-15 from 3-point range, including 3-of-5 so far in the second half.
UNLV has made just one of its first five shot attempts this half, and there are no signs that it's going to get any better for the Rebels.
UNLV trails San Diego State by 20 at halftime
After a nightmarish 20 minutes for UNLV that included 14 turnovers, San Diego State has taken a 48-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.
San Diego State jumped on top of the Rebels early, building a 10-2 lead and working the home crowd into a frenzy, but it looked like UNLV had weathered the storm with a 7-0 run that erased most of the deficit. SDSU continued to apply pressure, however, and UNLV continued to turn the ball over. At one point, the Rebels committed turnovers on seven straight possessions, and SDSU cashed in to the tune of 19 points off turnovers for the half.
A 12-0 run late in the half allowed the Aztecs to push their lead as high as 23 points before Jovan Mooring scored late to make it an even 20-point hole.
UNLV's interior defense was lacking in the first half, as SDSU freshman forwards Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell worked their way inside to combine for 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
Mooring scored nine points to lead the Rebels in the first half. Jordan Johnson and Shakur Juiston tallied six apiece.
San Diego State leads UNLV, 36-21
UNLV continues to struggle with turnovers, and San Diego State has extended its lead to 36-21 with 4:13 left in the first half.
Careless giveaways have led to easy points for SDSU. UNLV has turned it over nine times, and the Aztecs have directly converted those into 11 points.
Forwards Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell have eight points apiece for SDSU on combined 8-of-12 shooting. Most of those baskets have been uncontested in the paint.
For UNLV, Shakur Juiston and Jordan Johnson have carried the offense so far. Juiston has six points on 3-of-4 shooting, but he has also committed two turnovers. Johnson also has six points and two turnovers.
San Diego State leads UNLV early
UNLV has withstood San Diego State's early knockout attempt, and with 11:40 left in the first half, SDSU leads 19-14.
The Rebels were shaky in the opening minutes, committing four turnovers in the first three minutes as SDSU ran out to a 10-2 lead. But UNLV started making shots and pressing in the backcourt, and that led to a 7-0 spurt that got the Rebels right back in the game.
Shakur Juiston has been huge in keeping UNLV afloat, as he's got a team-high six points on 3-of-3 shooting, including a steal in the backcourt that led to an easy layup.
UNLV will have to do a better job of keeping San Diego State freshman forward Jalen McDaniels away from the basket. He already has three offensive rebounds and a game-high eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Three keys for UNLV basketball at San Diego State
The last time UNLV went on the road, the Rebels notched their best win of the season with an 86-78 triumph at first-place UNR. That kicked off a three-game mini-winning streak that has rejuvenated the Rebels as dark-horse contenders in the Mountain West, and they can extend it to four with another victory at San Diego State today (1 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
How can UNLV (19-7, 8-5 MWC) come out on top again? Three keys to watch:
In the first meeting between these teams, on Jan. 27 at the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV was quite obviously the more physical team. Junior power forward Shakur Juiston scored 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, while freshman center Brandon McCoy posted 21 on 9-of-12 from the field. Even backup big man Mbacke Diong chipped in seven points. San Diego State had no answer.
The venue will change for this game, but UNLV's advantage in the paint shouldn't. San Diego State is uncharacteristically small, thin and weak up front — the Aztecs allow opponents to shoot 55.9 percent and score 1.19 points per possession on shots around the rim (265th in the nation) - so expect the Rebels to pound the ball inside to McCoy and Juiston and let them dictate for 40 minutes.
The Rebels shot the lights out on Wednesday against Air Force, making 50 percent of their field goals in the first half and 9-of-17 from 3-point range for the game, but they let Air Force hang around by committing 18 turnovers.
The good news is, they cut out the nonsense when the game was on the line, playing the final 6 minutes and 29 seconds without a single giveaway. UNLV outscored AFA, 19-16, during that span and pulled away for an 81-73 victory.
San Diego State isn't a prodigious offensive team — at 0.94 points per possession on the season, the Aztecs rank 125th in the nation — so if UNLV scores efficiently, it will be difficult for SDSU to keep up, unless the Rebels give them extra possessions via turnovers. If UNLV plays cleanly and limits turnovers to a dozen or so, San Diego State will have to play one of its best offensive games of the season in order to win.
Four in a row
With three straight wins, the Rebels have built up a good deal of momentum as they enter the final stretch of the regular season. Can they make it four in a row on Saturday? That would be quite an accomplishment, seeing as the last time UNLV won four straight Mountain West games was the 2013-14 season.
The Rebels will technically enter as underdogs, but given how thoroughly they dispatched San Diego State three weeks ago — and the diverging directions of the two teams since then — this is a game UNLV should win.