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Rebels lose sixth straight versus Aztecs, drop first Mountain West game

Vulnerable on both ends of the floor is the best way to describe the way UNLV looked in its most recent outing as it just looked outmatched by San Diego State in both program’s conference opener.


The Aztecs dumped the Rebels, 72-61, Saturday, Jan. 6 from the Viejas Arena in California. UNLV has not beaten SDSU since 2020 and have now lost six straight against the rival.


Prior to this game, the Rebels (7-6) had entered play on a three game win streak and were winners of four of their last five.


The avalanche started early for UNLV in this one as San Diego State raced out to an 8-0 start to the game. Not long after, the deficit would be 12 points on the heels of a 10-0 run by the home team.


That first half lead would eventually grow to 16 points. For more than four minutes during that opening half, the Rebels went without a point.


It wasn’t all bad for UNLV during that first half, the team managed to eke out a 6-0 spurt that would briefly cut the SDSU lead down to seven. In the second half it would be trimmed to just six but never more than that.


Everytime it appeared that the Rebels would climb back into the game fully, the wheels would come off. Already up 13 points, the Aztecs came away with a turnover and turned it into an and-one basket on the other end of the floor.


UNLV actually forced its opponent into three more turnovers than it committed on the night but San Diego State would turn it into 19 points off turnovers versus just 13 for the former.


Freshman guard Dedan Thomas Jr. was the first player into double-figures for the Rebs on his way to 13 points on the day on 6-of-15 from the field coupled with five assists. In addition, he accounted for the team’s first points of the day with a made three more than three-plus minutes into the game.


UNLV didn’t have a double-digit scorer until the 8:13-mark of the second half.


Fifth-year guard Luis Rodriguez was the only other player in double-figures for the Rebels but his night was cut short after fouling out. Teammate Keylan Boone also fouled out during the game.


Through the first half, UNLV didn’t have any free throw attempts of its own until just 1.2 was left on the clock before halftime.


Fifth-year forward Jalen Hill made his return to the court after missing six games with a wrist injury. He’d return to score six points on 3-for-5 shooting in just 14 minutes of action as he’d leave the game once again due to injury.


With 2:50 left to play in the first half, Hill went down to the ground and was grabbing for his lower left leg. He’d be helped off the floor and would not return to the game. Additionally, with just seconds left in the game, he’d return to the team’s bench area with crutches.

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