Head coach Brian Dutcher and San Diego State delivered arguably the biggest regular season win in school history Wednesday night, defeating the sixth-ranked Nevada 65-57 — ending Nevada’s 10-game win streak. This is also their first victory against a top six team in school history, winning now their 13th consecutive home conference game. Nevada now drops to 24-2 and 11-2 in conference play.
San Diego State is now 3-0 in home contests against teams in the AP Top 25 under Dutcher, who is in his second season after replacing legendary coach Steve Fisher. The Aztecs have strung together eight victories in their last ten games against AP Top 25 teams in Viejas Arena.
Three out of Nevada’s last four losses have come against the Aztecs — two of which occurred last season in a span of six days — one at Viejas Arena and the other in the Mountain West tournament semifinals.
Eric Musselman remains winless in his hometown of San Diego, having now gone 0-4 in Viejas Arena, the only Mountain West arena he has failed to win.
Since Nevada’s last loss to New Mexico, they put together arguably their best ten game stretch of the season, scoring 85.6 points per game and outscoring opponents by 22 points. Nevada shot 33.9 percent from the field — their lowest mark since their loss against New Mexico where they shot 33.8 percent — and 28 percent from three.
Caleb Martin was the only Pack player to crack double digits, scoring 20 points — 17 of which came in the second half — on 5-of-14 shooting. Caroline tallied a season-low eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, his first game not cracking double digits since Feb. 3, 2018, against Colorado State.
Nevada, who have not trailed once in the last three games, trailed right off the bat after a jump shot by senior guard Jeremy Hemsley.
A three-point basket by Hemsley gave SDSU an early 5-4 lead with 15:45 left. Neither team seemed to string together buckets in the first half, shooting a combined 8-for-34 in the first eleven minutes of the game.
Jordan Schakel gave SDSU a 24-15 lead with 3:57 remaining in the first half, capping off a 15-3 run which was sparked from a fastbreak dunk by Hemsley.
After shooting a poor 7-of-23 from the field in the first half, the Pack trailed 30-21 at halftime — their second lowest first half point total of the season — with the lowest being 20 points in a Jan. 19, victory over Air Force.
The Aztecs’ physical, pesky defense posed a major problem for the Pack throughout the contest, especially in the first half.
The Aztec defense forced Nevada — who had turned the ball over the fifth-fewest times in the nation coming into Wednesday — into ten first half turnovers. Their defense translated into offense, converting 17 points off turnovers in the opening half.
San Diego state went on a 7-0 run, extending their lead to a game-high 16 points with 10:18 remaining, taking a 48-32 lead after a made jumpshot by sophomore Jalen McDaniels.
The Pack attempted to make a late-game push, going on an 8-0 run with 1:29 remaining, cutting the Aztecs lead to 60-54 with 1:29 remaining. On the ensuing Wolf Pack possession, center Trey Porter got fouled after hauling in an offensive rebound on a Jazz Johnson three point miss.
After missing his first five free throws, Porter made his first free throw of the evening on the second free throw, cutting the lead to five with 42 seconds remaining. The Pack would not be able to capitalize on their push.
The Pack travel back to Lawlor for their third-to-last home game of their season, looking to sweep the season series against Fresno State on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 5 p.m.
Matt Hanifan can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.