UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs. San Diego St. Aztecs Pick & Prediction MARCH 5th 2024

Winning a fourth Mountain West Conference regular-season title in five years is looking like less of a reality for No. 21 San Diego State.

Like every other squad in the tightly packed conference, the Aztecs are just trying to make enough plays to win heading into their next matchup against UNLV on Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

“It’s incredible,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “Every game is really close. You’re not safe against any opponent in this league.”

The Aztecs (22-7, 11-5) should expect another tough matchup against UNLV (18-10, 11-5), a winner of four games in a row and nine of its past 10.

The Runnin’ Rebels are coming off a 68-50 victory against visiting San Jose State on Saturday. UNLV had a much easier time against the last-place Spartans than San Diego State experienced four days earlier.

The Aztecs led by just four points with a minute left against San Jose State last Tuesday before going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds. They hung on for a 72-64 victory and improved to 14-0 at home this season.

“Most people will say, ‘You should have won by more than you did,'” Dutcher said. “We’re just happy we won.”

The Aztecs will need some help just to get a share of the conference title and a shot at the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament this month.

San Diego State is one game behind first-place Utah State and Boise State with two games remaining for each team.

The Aztecs will conclude their regular season against visiting Boise State on Friday.

“We’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” San Diego State forward Jaedon LeDee said. “Everyone gears up and gives us their best effort.”

LeDee will be counted on heavily against UNLV.

He had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 72-61 win against UNLV on Jan. 6 in San Diego. He has double-doubles in the past two games, most recently totaling 27 points and 11 rebounds against San Jose State.

“He scored a lot of different ways, which good players do,” Dutcher said. “It’s not just a one-dimensional player. He’s a dangerous player. To his credit, everybody knows it, and he still ends up with another double-double. … That’s a first-team All-American to me.”

UNLV is 10-4 on its home floor this season and would be in a much better position for a share of its first conference title since 2000 if not for the most head-scratching loss in the Mountain West this season, a 90-58 defeat to visiting Air Force on Jan. 23. That was one of only two conference wins by the Falcons this season.

Since then, the Rebels have won at then-No. 25 New Mexico and against visiting Colorado State, when the Rams were ranked 22nd.

Five players average in double figures in scoring for UNLV, led by guard Dedan Thomas Jr. at 13.0 points a game.

–Field Level Media

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