San Diego State Recap: Aztecs lose first regular-season game to UNLV, 63-66
Aztecs lose in an upset to Rebels.
Well, well, well…
NC State, Duke.
UNLV, San Diego State.
Of the AP Top 6, four took losses this week, with the exception of Kansas. Somebody had to lose that Big 12 matchup.
The upsets started this week with N.C. State handing Duke a 22-point loss this week and the upsets ended with a 13-point Gonzaga loss at BYU.
The Aztecs entered the game knowing the fates of the top two teams east of the Colorado River and knew what was at stake at the Marriot Center in Provo, Utah. Brian Dutcher’s team came in with high hopes at running the table for the West bracket.
Unfortunately for the Aztecs, the UNLV Rebels did the running. Despite a 3-point loss on paper, the Aztecs looked sloppy and the Rebels’ Elijah Mitrou-Long off the bench worked wonders. Mitrou-Long shot 5 of 12 and led the Rebels with 19 total points.
The Rebels came out the gate slinging the rock, shooting 6 of 13 from beyond the arc in the first half and shot 57.7% from the field.
Desperation 3-pointers might be burying the lede of what went wrong in the second half for the Aztecs– the Rebels had ample opportunities at the free-throw line. During the Aztecs climb erase a second-half 14-point deficit, the Rebels went 12 of 17 from the charity stripe, while the Aztecs went 6 of 9 in the second half.
The Aztecs were 2 of 12 from the arc and shot 33% in the first half, and ended the game with an FG percentage under 40%.
It just wasn’t their night.
Something else not to ignore, which might trigger deeper analysis from the Aztecs’ staff, is that the bench only scored 4 points. From one player. Aguek Arop. Malachi Flynn led the Aztecs in scoring and recorded 38 minutes, but not getting support from the bench is not optimal for a deep tournament run.
There was bound to be nights where the Aztecs weren’t going to shoot it well. Sometimes the defense would account for the struggles, it just happened on a night that UNLV found some extra adrenaline to upset the 4th ranked team in the country.
When one factors in the Upset-pocalypse at the top, there is a slight possibility a Q3 loss might have dropped them to the two-seed in the West. There just also happens to be enough evidence around that stayed the course for a 1-seed.
We won’t know until the dust settles on Monday or how everything turns out on selection Sunday.
Granted the Quad 3 loss, Brian Dutcher and company can breathe a bit easier and take the edge off. The loss wasn’t in March, and the loss might get them the seed drop they have been secretly pining for.
Based again on the outcomes of the top 5, It depends on how the Aztecs react to the rest of the way. Get hungrier and clean up the next 2 games and go 3-0 in the MW tournament? Or drop another one in before the tournament final?
Only March will tell.