MEN’S BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Tapley out; White comes home

by Edward Lewis

Courtesy of Matt McClanahan

LAS VEGAS — With its impressive victory on the road against UNLV on Saturday, the San Diego State men’s basketball team became one of just three teams in all of Division I college basketball to have just one loss this season. Take a look at some of the news and notes from SDSU’s 25th victory of the season.

Tapley ‘definitely’ back this week

Leading up to the big game on Saturday, the big questions weren’t about UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis or the Rebels’ tight defense; they were mostly about sophomore guard Chase Tapley and his injured ankle.

Tapley was a gametime decision, and ultimately did not play against Vegas. After the game, he said he was only going to play in case of emergency.

“I’m feeling good,” Tapley said after the Aztecs’ win. “I could’ve played today.”

Tapley said his ankle is about 80 to 85 percent healthy. He said he would “definitely be ready to go” for Wednesday’s game against New Mexico.

Hard work paying off

After every practice this season, SDSU takes a few minutes to practice burying free throws.

On Saturday, sophomore guard James Rahon said the tedious work finally paid off.

“We’ve been working on our free throws all year and it’s nice to see it finally pay off in such a big game like this,” Rahon said. “That was really good for us.”

There were 18,557 UNLV fans screaming during every free throw, but the Aztecs calmly stepped to the line and made 20 of their 22 free throws. After the game, Rahon said that was the difference.

“All league games are just grinds all the way through,” Rahon said. “It was a war in there. It’s always tough when you got 18,000 screaming against you, but we came through the adversity and came through with the win. It shows how good of a team we are.”

White comes home

UNLV offered senior forward Billy White a scholarship four years ago. But he turned it down to come to San Diego to play for SDSU.

Now, when he comes back to Vegas, he hears it from the fans. And it makes winning that much sweeter.

“It’s always fun to play here and come back and play in front of my friends and family,” White said. “Just watching my mom, my coaches and all the people I grew up with here coming to the game to support me; I’m just glad we got the victory.”

White didn’t play his best game of the season, fouling out in the second half. He only posted four points and three rebounds, but he said the win is the only thing that matters.

“I don’t want to come back to my hometown and just lose to UNLV,” White said. “They give me a little business for not coming. It’s just all fun and games; I’m just glad we got the victory.”

Short Shots

In his last 158 minutes played, senior guard D.J. Gay has no turnovers and has 20 assists … In its last five, SDSU is 4-1 at the Thomas and Mack Center … The Aztecs have won at least 25 games in three consecutive seasons.