Match Preview: No. 22 San Diego State in Nevada

A look at the start of a crucial three-game stretch for the No. 22 Aztecs:

place/time: Lawlor Events Center/8 p.m. Tuesday

In the air: CBSSN; 760 AM

records: SDSU is 17-4, 8-1; Nevada is 16-6, 6-3

history of the series: SDSU leads 25-6 and has won nine straight games but is 2-3 in his last five visits to Reno. The Aztecs won 74-65 three weeks ago in the Viejas Arena.

Aztec update: They returned to the top 25 at number 22, appeared on 46 of 62 ballots and ranked as high as number 16th to one. It’s the seventh week (of a possible 13 this season) that they’ve been ranked. The high was 17th the low of 36 in Novemberth (or 11th team receiving votes) in mid-December. They were third among others to receive votes last week, but three teams ahead of them (Charleston, New Mexico and Duke) all lost. The offense continues to improve, with the single-game offensive efficiency rating of 133.6 from last week’s win at Utah State beating a season-high against Div. I opposition and the 120 against San Jose State as fourth best. Saturday’s defensive efficiency rating of 85 was the lowest in more than a month. The Aztecs are driving a seven-game winning streak to Nevada, the second-longest in the country behind Charleston and Florida Atlantic (eight each). They’re 4-0 in Mountain West road games, three in height. A focus will undoubtedly be solving Nevada’s full-court press late in the games. In their last two encounters, last year’s regular-season finals in Reno and Jan. 10 at the Viejas Arena, the Aztecs were surpassed in the final five minutes with a combined 34-13. In the first 35 minutes, SDSU was up 31 points.

Wolf Pack update: The big question is whether top scorer Jarod Lucas (17.0 points) will play after sustaining a left foot injury in the 68-62 loss at UNLV late on Saturday and needing help to get to the dressing room reach. The wolf pack doesn’t have much depth at number 329th in Dept. I with just 24.1 percent of his minutes on the bench. It struggled against the SDSU defense in the first game and was down by 21 points within five minutes before going on a 12-0 run late. “It’s an elite-level defense,” coach Steve Alford told Nevada Sports Net after the game. “That’s where they hang their hats, and they’re good at that. It’s the first time we’ve seen this kind of pressure and physicality at this level. They say pressure bursts pipes and we just burst.” The Wolf Pack is 10-0 at the Lawlor Events Center and 6-6 everywhere else. One area where they are elite is in free throw shooting, which at 79, 4 percent ranked fifth nationally. That’s only great if you get to the line regularly, and the Wolf Pack does – 21.8 attempts per game, ranked 26thth. Center Will Baker had a career-high 28 points in the double overtime win against New Mexico last week, then just two in the loss at UNLV. Nevada has two of the best freshmen of the conference in Nick Davidson (8.1 points) and Darrion Williams (7.4 points, 7.4 rebounds).

next up: Friday vs. Boise State (6 p.m., FS1)