Aztecs’ Trey Pulliam goes increase for 2 of his 15 point out in Thursday’s game against Wyoming in the hill West competition in ras Vegas.

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San Diego State it s okay 50 points native three beginning guards and pulls the end 12th directly victory to breakthrough to semifinals


LAS VEGAS—When san Diego State’s bleary-eyed basketball team proved up at thomas & Mack facility on Thursday because that 6:15 a.m. COVID testing, the sound the squeaking sneakers can be heard within the arena.

It to be Wyoming, which had a 5:45 a.m. Testing time and also which had actually gone right from cotton swabs to hardwood. Come practice.

The Aztecs should have known appropriate then something to be up.

The genuine test because that the top seed in the hill West tournament and also 19th-ranked team in the nation, the turned out, would certainly be the resolve, prevailing 69-66 in a nervy quarterfinals Thursday afternoon against a Cowboys team the beat by, ahem, 30 and also 27 point out in so late January.


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San Diego State’s Terrell Gomez drives into score against Wyoming’s Marcus Williams during the quarterfinals the the hill West Conference tournament.
“I prefer the toughness mentally and also physically of mine team, that we endured a video game like that and found a means to advance,” claimed coach Brian Dutcher, who Aztecs never led by an ext than 4 points and also needed four totally free throws from Matt Mitchell in the last five seconds to certain the win. “I mean, 51-6 over the last two years is remarkable, and a the majority of that needs to do v our mental toughness.”

In Friday’s 6:30 p.m. Semifinal, they’ll challenge fifth-seeded Nevada, which beat Boise State 89-82 for the 3rd time this season and also popped the Broncos’ NCAA competition bubble.

Like Wyoming, the Aztecs (21-4) won both regular-season meetings in ~ Viejas Arena against Nevada. Unequal Wyoming, both to be close and also low scoring, needing a 3 by all-conference guard provide Sherfield come bounce turn off the pickled in salt in the closing seconds of the very first game and a coast-to-coast buzzer beater by Trey Pulliam in the second.


But the mantra of in march is survive and advance.

“Sometimes it will be ugly,” claimed Mitchell, that was double-teamed constantly, check only 4 shots and also finished with eight points. “But as long as she surviving and also advancing you’ve obtained to it is in happy.”


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San Diego State’s Trey Pulliam scores versus Wyoming during the quarterfinals the the hill West Conference tournament.
Twenty-three hrs earlier, Wyoming had raced previous San Jose State 111-80 in a game that broke the hill West tournament document for point out in regulation and was the second-largest margin that victory. The Aztecs observed that, knew they had actually scored a season-high 98 versus the Cowboys in January and also salivated.


“We intended to have our track shoes on because that this game,” senior Terrell Gomez said.

Except Wyoming coach Jeff Linder got ago to the hotel Wednesday afternoon, watched the tape of the games at Viejas Arena and also wrote an obscure indigenous on the whiteboard that had actually his team browsing on their phones because that its definition.

It supposed sudden change, and he reasoned the the run-n-gun technique would represent the an interpretation of one more word: insanity — law the exact same thing over and also over and expecting a various result. So he took among the youngest rosters in division I and totally blew increase the playbook, wade the ball up the floor so progressively that they obtained a 10-second violation with no pressure.

The just running castle did to be time off the clock, a great 15 to 20 seconds prior to initiating offense.


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San Diego State’s Nathan Mensah it s okay the guideline off against Wyoming’s Graham Ike to start the quarterfinals of the mountain West Conference competition at the Thomas and Mack Center.
“We were shocked by it, at least I was,” Dutcher said. “A team the scored 111 points the game before, the raced up and down the court every year versus anybody they played, believed their ideal chance to be to slow it down.

“At first, ns was a small thrown off by it because nobody to be expecting it, really,” said Wyoming freshman Xavier DuSell, that finished v a career-high 21 points. “They sure as heck weren’t.”

There were various other unorthodox components. Rather of whipping the round from side to side, the Cowboys ran a straightforward ball display late in the shooting clock to reduce the risk of turnovers the create shift offense because that the Aztecs. ~ above defense, castle dropped off (and we typical waaaay off) football player not recognized for their shooting prowess — Trey Pulliam, Lamont Butler, Keshad Johnson — to, as Linder placed it, “pick our poison and make specific guys beat us.”


The very first game at Viejas Arena had actually 148 complete possessions.

Thursday’s had 115.

That developed what Dutcher referred to as a “dilemma.” do you could start trapping and also scrambling top top defense — out of character for his team — in hopes of ramping up the tempo, or carry out you hold your nerve and also rely top top the poise the the nation’s 15th many experienced roster?

Dutcher’s choice: “I to be comfortable that we had sufficient players and plays under the stretch that we could win a low-possession game.”


The Cowboys (14-11) traction ahead 64-63 inside two minutes to walk Hunter Maldonado’s step-back 3 — just the recent heavily contested shot lock made late in the shooting clock. It wasn’t until Gomez’s two totally free throws with 1:32 left that the Aztecs led for good.

Even after Kenny Foster let go the front finish of a one-and-one complimentary throw, the Cowboys gained the ball back down one. Linder opted not to contact timeout, reasoning that the floor spacing to be favorable, and also Marcus Williams missed a kind look at a 3 from the left side.

Mitchell got the rebound, was fouled and also made both cost-free throws v 5.3 seconds left (the second just rolling in) to push the margin to three.

Dutcher dubbed timeout and also employed the same strategy that did in a four-point win versus Boise State two weeks ago, fouling prior to the Cowboys might get up a 3. Williams made the first free throw v 3.4 seconds left, and also Linder dubbed timeout to implement his very own late-game tactics: instructing him come purposely miss out on in really hopes of getting the offensive rebound.


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San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell drives down court versus Wyoming.
(K.C. Alfred/The san Diego Union-Tribune)
Williams tried, shooting a pass an ext than a shot at the basket that … bounced turn off the backboard and also rattled in. (They couldn’t miss, also when they were trying.)

Mitchell was fouled again and made both cost-free throws. Williams got off an off-balance prayer from halfcourt at the buzzer that didn’t struggle anything, and SDSU had won that is 14th straight mountain West quarterfinal.

Gomez led the Aztecs v a season-high 20 points, including 13 the SDSU’s final 20. Pulliam and also Jordan Schakel each had actually 15 ~ above a day once Mitchell, the conference player that the year, had actually only four in the very first 39 minutes, 54 seconds.


“This is March,” Gomez said. “This is what i came right here for.”

The Aztecs shot a respectable 49 percent overall, however Wyoming compensated by make 12 that 25 beyond the arc — numerous of them through hands in your faces. V 7:38 to go, Williams banked one in over Mitchell. Eleven the Wyoming’s 32 first-half points come on baskets that just beat the shot clock.

“They made some really challenging shots, timely shots,” Schakel said. “But at the finish of the day, that March. Simply gotta acquire a win. And also we discovered a method today.”

Nevada vs No. 19 SDSU

Friday: 6:30 p.m., cutting board & Mack Center, las Vegas


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Records: Nevada is 16-9; SDSU is 21-4

Series history: SDSU leader 21-6 and has won the last 5 meetings, including both games earlier this season at Viejas Arena.

Wolf fill update: It gained a combined 57 clues on 19 that 33 shoot from the dynamic backcourt duo of Wichita State transfer give Sherfield (26) and also Brown deliver Desmond Cambridge (31) in Thursday’s 89-82 quarterfinal win against Boise State. Technically, it’s an upset due to the fact that Boise State was the 4th seed and Nevada is fifth. In reality, it most likely wasn’t. The Wolf pack made that 3-0 against the Broncos this season. It additionally has new legs, having played only twice since Feb. 7 due to the fact that of a COVID-19 stop (the other video game was a last-second win versus Colorado State). And both losses in mountain Diego to be one-possession games that went down to the last shot. The current surge has been without starting forward Zane Meeks, but coach Steve Alford has cobbled with each other an eight-man rotation that at times is limited to six. The rotation consists of two football player with local ties: Mission Hills High alum Warren Washington (who had 18 points Thursday) and also Kearny High alum Robbie Robinson.

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Aztecs update: They have reached the hill West semifinals because that a 14th right year. A success would placed them right into the final for one eighth continuous year. The quarterfinal nail-biter versus Wyoming significant the very first time in their 12-game success streak the the Aztecs have actually trailed in the second half, although the was only by 3 points. It additionally was only the 4th time in the Brian Dutcher era that they have won as soon as trailing with five minutes to go. The near game against statistically inferior opposition cost them five spots in the Kenpom metric, dropping them from 19th come 24th. Wyoming make 12 the 25 behind the arc; the previous 4 times an opponent shot 48 percent or much better on 3s, the Aztecs lost. Aguek Arop’s battle with vertigo go not stop him native practicing every week and he suitable up Thursday, however Dutcher opted not to usage him against Wyoming. Matt Mitchell had huge games in the two regular-season games versus Nevada, scoring 20 in every after walking a merged 20 that 21 at the line.

Next up: The winner advances to the mountain West last on Saturday (3 p.m., CBS)