The University of Nevada visited Viejas Arena on Sunday flaunting a record of 19-5 (8-3 in the conference), which had them tied for first place in the Mountain West.
San Diego State men’s basketball, on the other hand, sat at 13-10 (5-6 in the conference), an abysmal record compared to what Aztec fans have seen in recent years. Coming off a their first loss to San Jose State University since 1999, SDSU was in desperate need of a morale boost.
However, all those in attendance for Sunday’s affair witnessed the Aztecs return to their dominant ways.
The Scarlet and Black flashed energy on defense, playing with the passion and pride SDSU supporters have longed for all season. They came into the game with a clear chip on their shoulder against the top team in the conference, looking the part of a team with something to prove.
Junior forward Malik Pope started off hot for the Aztecs, converting three of his first four shots from the field, including a three-pointer.
Senior guard Dakarai Allen followed suit with two-handed jam to put the crowd on their feet.
Junior guard Trey Kell later watched a historic two-point field goal find the bottom of the net, as he became the 31st player in school history to reach 1,000 career points.
Nevada chipped away at SDSU’s lead late in the second half. Senior forward Matt Shrigley, however, silenced their momentum with seven points in the final two minutes, forcing the Wolf Pack to finish the second half down 42-28 with their tail between their legs.
The Wolf Pack never left the doghouse.
SDSU’s sophomore forward Zylan Cheatham kept the Aztecs’ energy levels up with a few huge plays, including two monstrous dunks and an emphatic block. He finished the contest with just four points, but his strong defense and contagious energy left a positive impact that fell far beyond the box score.
Following Cheatham’s lead, the Aztecs nursed a comfortable lead through the remainder of the second half behind Kell’s team-high 17 points and sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley’s 15 points.
Defensively, the Aztecs were at their best against Nevada’s leading scorer, senior guard Marcus Marshall. Though he entered the contest averaging 20.1 points per game, Marshall was held to just four points on 1-10 shooting.
Overall, this was a great win for Aztec basketball, beating first place Nevada by 14 points and gaining some of that swagger back. Now, they need to ride this momentum into their next game against Utah State on Wednesday.