The Daily Aztec

Aztecs looking to get back on track vs Colorado State, UNLV

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Junior guard Devin Watson threads a pass during SDSUs loss to Fresno State on Jan. 17.

Junior guard Devin Watson threads a pass during SDSUs loss to Fresno State on Jan. 17.

Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Junior guard Devin Watson threads a pass during SDSUs loss to Fresno State on Jan. 17.

by Abraham Jewett, Assistant Sports Editor

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San Diego State men’s basketball has two games this week, playing at home against Colorado State University on Jan. 24, before heading up the I-15 to take on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Jan. 27.

The Aztecs will attempt to end a three-game losing streak – all in conference – which has the team looking up from seventh place in the Mountain West with a conference record of 3-4 (11-7 overall).

“The only way you work your way out of a losing streak is hard work,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We’ve worked hard and hopefully it’ll be enough where the performance will be reflective of that (against Colorado State).”

SDSU defeated Colorado State (10-11, 3-5 MW) on the road on Jan. 2, 77-68, which is the only conference road game the Aztecs have won this season.

“Last time we played them at their place when we beat them there we made an incredible amount of threes,” Dutcher said. “They rebound, they defend hard, it’ll be a real challenge but if preparation has anything to do with it we are prepared and ready to go.”

The team has had better results when playing at home this season, putting together a record of 7-2, compared to 4-5 away from Viejas Arena.

Redshirt freshman Jalen McDaniels led SDSU in the first meeting against the Rams with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and the team may need another big game from its surprise freshman to end its current skid.

The Rams were led by guard J.D. Paige, who scored 22 points in the loss.  The redshirt junior is coming off a game-high 19 points in a losing effort against UNLV on Jan. 20.

Colorado State will be without its leading scorer in junior guard Prentiss Nixon,  who averages 17.9 points per game but is unlikely to play due to a sprained ankle.

Nixon was largely held in check in the team’s first meeting, scoring only 11 points.

SDSU freshman forward Matt Mitchell scored nine points with six rebounds in the team’s first meeting with the Rams, and  said  that he expects Colorado State to come out aggressive, but that the Aztecs will be ready.

“They play tough, they’re a tough team, we know what they’re about,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to be ready for them, ready for the toughness and we’re gonna bring it right back and we’re gonna throw the first punch.”

SDSU’s matchup against UNLV will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

The Runnin’ Rebels have a record of 14-5, but are just 3-3 in conference after a 79-74 victory on the road against Colorado State on Jan. 20.

UNLV has a record of 6-4 at home, with three of its four home losses coming against Mountain West competition in Boise State University, Utah State University and the University of New Mexico.

The Runnin’ Rebels are led by 7-foot-1 freshman forward and NBA prospect Brandon McCoy, who averages 17.6 points per game and 9.7 rebounds.

The Aztecs have struggled at times against top talent this season, most recently while giving up 44 points against Boise State senior guard Chandler Hutchison during the team’s 83-80 road loss on Jan. 13.

Another important cog for UNLV is junior forward Shakur Juiston, who is averaging a double-double this season while leading the team with 10 rebounds per game to go along with 14.8 points.

Juiston most recently led his team in scoring with 19 points to go along with eight rebounds in UNLV’s victory over Colorado State.

The most recent meeting between the two teams was in the first round of last years Mountain West Tournament, when the Aztecs beat the Runnin’ Rebels by a score of 62-52, behind 13 points and 12 rebounds from then-junior forward Malik Pope.

Pope ranks second on SDSU behind junior guard Devin Watson (13.6 points) with 13.2 points per game this season and leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per contest.

Junior guard Jovan Mooring led UNLV in the team’s last meeting with 18 points, and the senior is currently third on the team this season averaging 14.3 points per game.

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