San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Men’s basketball bounces back in big way against UNLV after loss to Boise State

Jessica Parga
Senior Trey Pulliam (4) shoots over Boise State’s Mladen Armus (33) during SDSU’s match against Boise State on Jan. 22.

The San Diego State Aztecs (11-4, 3-1 Mountain West Conference) woke up in beast mode on Monday as they bounced back in an 80-55 win against the UNLV Rebels (11-9, 3-4 MWC) at Viejas Arena after their tough loss to Boise State on Saturday. What was 37 points in total scored against the Broncos was merely 42 points in the first half against the Rebels.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, some coaches and players were out in previous games.

“I think we are going to be a good team, but we haven’t been together. This is the first time we have all been together, so we are still learning how to play each other, where we have everyone available to play a deep deep bench and who to play when and how much to play without ruining the rhythm for the entire team,” head coach Brian Dutcher said.

The groove came back to rhythm Monday night thanks to senior guard Trey Pulliam and junior guard Lamont Butler.

In the first five minutes of the game, 15 points were made by the Aztecs. The Aztecs had 62.1% in field goal shooting in the first half, their season-best so far. This was a drastic change in play as they missed the first eight shots Saturday night in the loss to Boise State.

The excitement continued as fans got to witness some great moments in transition as Butler put one over the Rebels’ fifth-year center Royce Hamm Jr. after a no-look pass from senior guard Matt Bradley.  

Not even after the full replay of Butler’s dunk did forward junior center Keshad Johnson make a windmill dunk.

A few minutes after that, Butler made a one-handed windmill dunk of his own. 

“I mean, Keshad gets out on the break and we know what time it is. But I think Lamont surprised us with the windmill. That definitely got us going,” Pulliam said.

 Pulliam was out for the last game against UNLV. He dropped 11 points in this game after scoring under five points in his last three matches. 

“After the game against Boise, I just did a lot of self-reflection,” Pulliam said. 

This showed as Pulliam played more aggressively after receiving some guidance from assistant coach Chris Aacker. 

Bradley contributed a career-high 27 points in this game. He made 10-out-of-11 shots. He also had six rebounds, four assists and two steals. 

The Aztecs kept a 15-to-20 point lead on UNLV the entire game. 

“I think we were really locked in going into this game, and did what we needed to do. We had a lot of confidence playing this team knowing we beat them last time. We also had a trademark on our back, which is definitely what we needed. Our defensive intensity was really high and then offensively, we just watched panels and knew what we needed to do”, Bradley said. 

The Aztecs had nine offensive rebounds and 34 defensive rebounds as the game caused the Rebels to have 15 turnovers.  

Eighty points was a season-high score for the Aztecs. Twelve different players made a basket in contribution to doing so. They shot 53% from the field. 

“This was a good bounce back. It is always easier when the ball goes in the basket. You score 37 points and the coach doesn’t sleep for two nights, trying to figure out how to score 50”, coach Dutcher said.

Even with an incredible performance, Dutcher wants his players to strive to be the best of their abilities.

I thought at the end we were sloppy at times. I told them I don’t coach to the score, I coach to the standard I’m trying to hold you to,” Dutcher said.  “I thought they made a few mistakes down the stretch that I told them they can’t make because they want to win close games. So as much as I’m happy with the victory, as a coach you are always coaching, so we got to find ways to get better and we’re gonna have to get better in a hurry to go into Logan and play a good Utah State team on Wednesday.”

This win over UNLV makes for the 300th win at Viejas Arena. With career highs, season highs, and new records being made, the Aztecs put on quite the show. 

About the Contributor
Sumaia Wegner, '23-24 Managing Editor
Originally from Santa Clarita, California, Sumaia Wegner is a is a double major, studying Journalism and Communication.  She started as a staff writer for The Daily Aztec, then became Arts and Culture Editor, and is now the current Managing Editor. Aside from her leadership role, Sumaia is also a reporter for the men's basketball team. Last year she covered the Mountain West Championship as well as the NCAA Championship. Sumaia is the president of the Asian American Journalists Association (SDSU Chapter) as well as the vice president of Culture and Diversity for SDSU's College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. She started her career as a journalist while she was traveling abroad in Bangladesh, where she was a writer for The Independent newspaper. She wrote for the “Youth and Independent” section focusing on narratives that evaluated eastern and western cultures. Sumaia has received the following awards for The Daily Aztec: "The Inspirer," "Quest for Excellence," and "Best Section." 
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Men’s basketball bounces back in big way against UNLV after loss to Boise State