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 straight 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 boys are jacked. They’re excited,” said Nevada coach Steve Alford. “If you’ve followed this team, you know they’re fun to watch.”
Matt Bradley scored 16 points to put the Aztecs ahead (17-5, 8-2).
Neither team was more than three points clear from the 9:27 mark of the second half until Blackshear made a layup to give Nevada a 67-62 advantage with 1:57.
The Wolf Pack went 8-8 at the free-throw line in the last 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 points after halftime to finish with 11 points.
“You can’t let a team shoot 65% and expect them to win,” said San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher. “But Baker hit some hard punches and we let Blackshear come our way. … (Nevada has) a great rhythm about her.”
Nevada’s win ended SDSU’s nine-game winning streak in the series.
Baker scored five points as Nevada opened the second half with a 14-5 sprint to take a 42-35 lead. But then Lamont Butler dumped a 3-pointer and Aguek Arop made a layup when SDSU responded quickly and equalized at 42 with 12:52 to play.
SDSU’s Darrion Trammell was assessed for a technical foul in the opening minutes when Lucas was knocked down after a whistle in front of the Nevada bench. Cheers ensued and the San Diego State coaches had to stop some Aztec players from leaving their bench.
Lucas got off the floor at least half a dozen times. He and Bradley each had 11 points at the 7:23 first-half mark, 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 on a 10-1 run in Nevada that crushed the Aztecs’ 11-4 lead. But neither team held more than a four-point lead the rest of the half and SDSU went into the break with a 30-28 advantage.
Nevada’s victory caused a congestion at the top of the Mountain West standings. San Diego State fell in for first place with Boise State defeating the Air Force 59-52 on Tuesday. Nevada is a game behind, with New Mexico and Utah State both 1 1/2 games behind.
“It’s always special when you hit a big win,” Lucas said. “We saw it as a must to stay in contention for the Mountain West Championship. We have a long way to go but it has put us in a good position.”
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