SAN DIEGO (AP)Matt Bradley had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Lamont Butler added 15 points for No. 23 San Diego State, which beat Nevada 74-65 Tuesday night to take sole possession of first place in the Mountain West Conference.
”We’ve got to hold onto it,” Bradley said. ”We have a big target on our back now.”
The Aztecs (13-3, 4-0 MWC) dominated on both ends of Steve Fisher Court in a showdown between the last two undefeated teams in the conference to extend their winning streak to six games. Keshad Johnson added 11 points for SDSU, which has beaten Nevada nine straight times.
Nick Davidson had 17, Kenan Blackshear 12 and Jarod Lucas 11 or Nevada (14-4, 4-1), whose six-game winning streak was snapped.
SDSU led 65-43 with 9:10 left before Nevada began pressing in the closing minutes, forcing the Aztecs into turnovers and bad shots and allowing the close to single digits. SDSU didn’t make a field goal in the final 5:09.
”That was a great performance,” coach Brian Dutcher said. ”I thanked them after the game for the last three minutes. I said if they’d have played 40 minutes like they did the whole game, then they wouldn’t need any coaching. I thanked them because now I get to coach them a little bit again. We’ll work on the press offense.
”We have to become better playmakers when we get the ball with space that we have and know what we’re doing, and we will,” Dutcher said. ”I’m not overly concerned with it. The rest of the game was magnificent. The first half was probably as good as we played all year.”
The Aztecs marked their return to The AP Top 25 by dominating from the opening minute. Keshad Johnson had a steal and scored on an alley-oop slam dunk on a pass from Lamont Butler. Johnson and Butler hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Aztecs a 10-0 lead and force Wolf Pack coach Steve Alford to take a timeout.
Johnson had a steal and slam dunk for a 42-23 lead late in the first half. It was 44-27 at halftime.
SDSU shot 50% while holding Nevada to 39.7%. The Aztecs outrebounded Nevada 33-29 and made 8 of 21 3-pointers.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack committed three early turnovers in falling behind 10-0 and never recovered. They had six turnovers total in the first half and, although they enjoyed a height advantage, were outrebounded 19-13.
San Diego State: The Aztecs improved to 11-0 at home against Nevada in the MWC era and to 13-1 all-time at home against the Wolf Pack.
Nevada hosts Utah State on Friday night.
San Diego State hosts New Mexico on Saturday night.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25