RENO, Nev. (AP) — Jarod Lucas scored 26 points and Will Baker had 19 points and eight rebounds as Nevada beat No. 22 San Diego State 75-66 on Tuesday night.
Kenan Blackshear added 18 points and seven assists for the Wolf Pack (17-6, 7-3 Mountain West Conference), who won their second consecutive home game against a ranked opponent for the first time in program history. Nevada defeated then-No. 25 New Mexico 97-94 in double overtime last week.
“Our guys are jacked. They’re excited,” Nevada coach Steve Alford said. “If you’ve followed this team you know they’re fun to watch.”
Matt Bradley scored 16 points to lead the Aztecs (17-5, 8-2).
Neither team had more than a three-point lead from the 9:27 mark of the second half until Blackshear made a layup to give Nevada a 67-62 advantage with 1:57 to play.
The Wolf Pack went 8 for 8 at the free throw line in the final 69 seconds to seal it and shot 65% from the field in the second half against one of the best defensive teams in the country.
Tre Coleman hit a trio of 3-pointers after halftime and finished with 11 points.
“You can’t let a team shoot 65% and expect to win,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “But Baker hit some tough shots and we let Blackshear go downhill on us. … (Nevada has) a great rhythm about them.”
Nevada’s victory snapped SDSU’s nine-game winning streak in the series.
Baker scored five points as Nevada opened the second half with a 14-5 spurt to take a 42-35 lead. But then Lamont Butler drained a 3-pointer and Aguek Arop made a layup as SDSU quickly answered and tied it at 42 with 12:52 to play.
SDSU’s Darrion Trammell was assessed a technical foul in the opening minutes when Lucas was knocked down after a whistle in front of the Nevada bench. Some jawing ensued and San Diego State coaches had to restrain some Aztecs players from leaving their bench.
Lucas picked himself up off the floor at least a half-dozen times. He and Bradley each had 11 points at the 7:23 mark of the first half, more than half their team’s total in a 20-20 game.
Lucas, a senior guard who transferred from Oregon State after last season, scored seven points during a 10-1 Nevada run that erased the Aztecs’ 11-4 lead. But neither team had more than a four-point edge the rest of the half and SDSU took a 30-28 advantage into the break.
Nevada’s victory caused a traffic jam atop the Mountain West standings. San Diego State dropped into a tie for first place with Boise State, which defeated Air Force 59-52 on Tuesday. Nevada is one game back, with New Mexico and Utah State both 1 1/2 games behind.
“It’s always special when you get a big win,” Lucas said. “We kind of looked at it as a must-win to keep in the race for the Mountain West championship. We’ve got a long ways to go, but it put us in a good position.”
San Diego State: Will host Boise State in a Mountain West showdown for first place Friday night.
Nevada: Will host Air Force on Friday night.
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