UNLV vs. San Diego State: Preview, Who To Watch, Prediction
The Rebels travel to Viejas looking for revenge
WHO: UNLV Runnin Rebels (11-8) Vs San Diego State Aztecs(10-4)
When: Monday, January 24th 9:00 PM ET/ 6:00 PM PT
Where: San Diego, California
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: FuboTV — Get a free trial
UNLV is traveling to Viejas arena looking to avenge their loss at home to the Aztecs a few weeks ago. SDSU won that game 62-55 despite not having a healthy point guard on their roster. UNLV managed to keep it close for most of the game, but could not pull it out in the end. Their timing may be perfect though, as the Aztecs just had a 16 home game winning streak snapped when they lost to Boise St at Viejas on Saturday night. The Aztecs are coming off of a covid pause and looked very rusty. UNLV may be able to pull off an upset agaisnt a SDSU team that is still finding it’s groove after the long pause.
The Rebels are led by preseason first team all conferecne selection Bryce Hamilton. He averages 19.6 points per game, good for third in the conference. He managed to score 15 points in the first matchup against SDSU, but he took 21 shots to get those 15 points. It was not an efficient night. He will need to be more efficient for the Rebels to pull off the upset.
One other player to watch is Donovan Williams, who had 16 points and three blocks in the first matchup against the Aztecs. He averages 14.6 points per game and is shooitng 44.4% from behind the arc. His ability to stretch the floor will be valuable against an Aztecs defense that currently ranks third in the nation.
The Aztecs just had thier worst game in terms of adjusted offensive rating dating back through the 2008 season, the first year the data is available. They struggled mightily against a Boise St. defense that currently ranks 8th in the nation.They will look to get back on track against a UNLV team that has been good, but not great.
Point guards Trey Pulliam and Lamont Butler did not play in the last matchup against UNLV. Each will look to build some rhythm and timing after the team’s covid pause. Lamont Butler, who is the team’s second leading scorer at 9.9 points per game, has been hounded by shoulder and wrist injuries all season. He is finally healthy and ready to have a major impact on games. Trey Pulliam struggled against Boise St. and only scored four points in 20 minutes.
The Aztecs are 10.5 point favorites in this game.
Keys for UNLV – UNLV will need Bryce Hamilton to have an efficient game. He likely won’t need to score 20 points, given the Aztecs offensive struggles recently, but he needs to take good shots. The Aztecs defense is elite, and they like to force turnovers, so taking efficient shots will be key.
UNLV will also need someone else to step up. The Aztecs excel at making things hard for a whole team and only letting one or two players score more than a few points. The role players will need to step up and hit open shots when they get the chance.
Keys for San Diego State – The game plan for the Aztecs will start with defense every time. Play sound defense, do not commit fouls, force misses, and secure the rebound. The Aztecs managed to hold Boise St. to only 42 points. They held the explosive Colorado St. offense to 49 points. They will look to frustrate UNLV in a similar way. They like to clog driving lanes, close out hard on shooters, and force turnovers.
If they can frustrate UNLV with their defense, they should be able to scrape enough offense together to beat the Rebels. Their timing and execution was not great against Boise St, but playing a Rebels defense that is good but not great should help with that.
Predictions – The Aztecs beat the Rebels on the road without their two most important offensive players. It all starts with their defense, which is elite this season, even after the covid pause. UNLV will be motivated to get their revenge, and will keep the game close. In the end, the Aztecs should win at hom.e
Prediction – 58-53 Aztecs