Nevada vs. #23 SDSU: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
Steve Alford, Craig Neal and the Wolfpack visit the Mesa to play Brian Dutcher’s Aztecs and determine who is “Top of the Mountain.”
The Wolfpack has not defeated the Aztecs in San Diego since November 14, 1998.
WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 10th – 8:00 p.m. PST / 11:00 p.m. EST
WHERE: Viejas Arena, San Diego, CA (Capacity 12,414)
RADIO: San Diego Sports 760 / iHeart Radio App
SERIES RECORD: San Diego State and Nevada meet for the 31st time Tuesday evening. The Aztecs own a 24-6 series advantage. The Aztecs have won the last eight and are 11-1 in the last 12 matches.
LAST MEETING: SDSU waged a 79-78 victory against the Wolfpack in Reno, Nevada on March 5th, 2022.
ODDS: SDSU -8.5
San Diego, CA – The #23 SDSU Aztecs (12-3, 3-0 MW) host the Nevada Wolfpack (14-3, 4-0 MW) on Steve Fisher Court at Viejas Arena in San Diego, California on Tuesday night, January 10th.
This match places one team at The Top of the Mountain. Both teams enter Viejas undefeated in-conference, but after 40 minutes just one will remain. Brian Dutcher has battled Nevada coaches Steve Alford and Craig “Noodles” Neal for decades, as both Nevada coaches formerly coached for the New Mexico Lobos first together, and after Steve Alford left for UCLA, Craig Neal took the helm alone.
The Aztecs have consistently taken care of business with the Wolfpack, but Steve Alford and Craig Neal are like Batman and Robin, with a strong bond that goes beyond mere co-coaching. It is said, when Steve Alford starts a sentence, Craig Neal finishes it. When Alford asked Noodles to come join him in Reno, Neal simply responded, “You had me at hello.”
Both Alford and Neal were NBA basketballers, and they are a fierce, two-headed monster of sorts. Dutcher and the Aztecs can’t let down their guard- even for a moment because, mark these words: Alford and Neal are ushering in a new era for Nevada, and the Pack going forward. Also hard to believe: Alford and Neal have considerably more class than Eric Musselman.
Nevada expects to take the Aztecs’ AP status. Let’s take a closer look.
Why the Wolfpack Will Win
Nevada has been playing excellent basketball, and Alford and Neal truly understand what makes San Diego State tick.
They will try to come out of the gates by punching the Aztecs in the mouth with an early scoring run to put the Aztecs on their heels.
They’ll look to Nick Davidson, Jarod Lucas, Kenan Blackshear along with freshman Darrion Williams to score prolifically early on. Each of these players (or all of them) can score in double digits on any given night. They will also run set plays to trip the Aztecs up.
While Alford and Neal maintain a losing record across teams against SDSU, they have waged many victories against the Aztecs while donning red blazers at UNM.
They have certain tried-and-true countermeasures against elite Aztec defense, and they will be chomping at the bit (or more fittingly hungry like the wolf) to win in Viejas, and turn the tide.
Alford as head coach has about as much experience as any coach in the Mountain West on battling the Aztecs, and Neal is no slouch.
Why The Aztecs Will Win
Over the past three games, the Aztecs have shot the lights out from behind the arc. Lamont Butler, Matt Bradley, Darrion Trammell, Mikah Parrish, and Adam Seiko can all turn it on from three point land.
In fact the Aztecs have made 11, 11 and 12 three-pointers in their last three outings. In Laramie they made 12 of 26 behind the arc, sinking 46.2 percent as a team.
The Aztecs have also been producing turnovers at a dizzying rate, and Matt Bradley has manufactured clutch points in heavy traffic when the Aztecs are in greatest need for a run. Nathan Mensah and Jaydon LeDee have been cleaning up the boards, and on top of it all the Aztecs are sinking an impressive number of their free throws.
If they handle the ball carefully, they are extremely difficult to defeat.
What Will Happen
Nevada will take this game right down to the wire, and the Wolfpack is dominant enough to win. Alford and Neal have very high basketball I.Q.’s and they can turn the last two minutes of this game into a chess match if they are within a few possessions. In fact, count on it.
But… the Aztecs have home court advantage, and they have a great rhythm currently. With their incredibly deep bench, the Aztecs are very hard to stop. This team also has several leaders. If Bradley is off, Trammell can lead. If Tramell is out of sync, Butler or Seiko can take the handle. It’s as though the Aztecs are two complete teams in one.
Despite the Wolfpack’s aggressiveness, the Aztecs will prevail by a razor thin margin.
This game will be a must watch.
Final Score: SDSU 80, Nevada 79