The sixth-ranked Aztecs and Runnin’ Rebels meet for a rematch Saturday night in Las Vegas.
San Diego State (24-1, 9-1 Mountain West) held on for a 55-49 home victory over UNLV on Jan. 12, a chippy affair featuring six technical fouls for two separate incidents.
Aztecs leading scorer Kawhi Leonard, who scored 15 points and added a season-high 17 rebounds, was in the middle of both altercations after taking exception to hard fouls.
There was far less drama in San Diego State’s 85-53 rout of Utah at home Tuesday, when the Aztecs used a 21-3 first-half run to put the game out of reach early. D.J. Gay and Billy White had 15 points each as San Diego State tied its season low with four turnovers.
“We want to try to make people quit,” said senior Brian Carlwell, who scored 10 points off the bench. “So we just get out there and we just run. We were able to do that (Tuesday) and we had a lot of success doing it.”
Despite playing without guard Chase Tapley and forward Tim Shelton, the Aztecs held the Utes to 35.5-percent shooting. Leonard had 14 points and 16 rebounds for his 17th double-double, which ranks fourth in the nation. He’s averaged 14.3 points and 10.8 boards in four career meetings against UNLV (18-6, 6-4).
San Diego State has won three straight meetings overall in this series and three of four in Las Vegas.
Tapley (sprained left ankle) and Shelton (injured right foot) are both uncertain for Saturday.
San Diego State has also won four in a row overall since losing 71-58 to Mountain West co-leader BYU on Jan. 26.
UNLV leading scorer Chase Stanback (13.5 points per game) scored only eight on 4-of-17 shooting in last month’s loss to the Aztecs, also picking up a technical in the first half after knocking Leonard to the floor chasing a rebound. Stanback has fared much better since, averaging 17.1 points and shooting 50.5 percent from the field.
The junior forward hit all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 24 points Wednesday in UNLV’s 94-79 win at TCU. Senior guard Tre’Von Willis added a season-high 23 off the bench to help the Runnin’ Rebels score a season high and win for the fourth time in five games.
UNLV is 1-4 against Top 25 teams this season, with the win a 63-59 victory at then-No. 11 Kansas State on Dec. 21.