San Diego State Takes Mountain West Crown Over UNLV
When a team comes out on the floor and misses its first seven shots and after 10 minutes they are shooting a dismal 2-12 you just have to know it's going to be a very long afternoon.
That it was for the UNLV Runnin' Rebels as they lost their chance for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 55-45 loss to San Diego State.
Both teams showed the wear and tear of their previous nights victory against nationally ranked BYU and New Mexico. While both those teams have no doubts about playing this upcoming Thursday or Friday, it still remains to be seen where or if the Aztecs and the Rebels would wind up after this championship was decided.
Now that San Diego State gets their automatic bid, it still appears that four teams will represent the Mountain West Conference for the first time in it's 11 year history. The only questions remaining for the four teams are what seeds they shall receive, who their opponents will be and where will the games be played?
Those questions will all be answered on the Tournament Selection Show on Sunday at 3:00 PM here in the West.
Just for the fun of it, I'm giving New Mexico a three seed, BYU a six, UNLV a seven, and San Diego State an eight. Your comments and picks would be appreciated.
As far a the game, for the most part it was a stinker. Only one player on both sides stood out and Kawhi Leonard, freshman player of the year in the Mountain West Conference, certainly did not look like or play like any freshman I've seen in recent years.
He scored a game-high 16 points and had an incredible record setting performance grabbing 21 rebounds including seven off the offensive end. He was a monster out there and the Rebels who put three different men on him couldn't find the answer.
Most impressive was his play in the last four to five minutes of the game. It was here that he calmly dropped in six straight foul line attempts ultimately finishing 8-9. He was without any doubt the difference maker in the game.
After it was over, Rebels coach Lon Kruger had nothing but praise for the young man and I know the thought of having to face him twice a year or more for the next years will give any coach a lot of sleepless nights.
UNLV's emotional and best player Tre'Von Willis looked like the ankle injury he sustained at the conclusion of the BYU game was affecting his game. He was short on his jumpers and had difficulty driving in the paint.
He still led the Rebels scoring along with Oscar Bellfield with 11 points while Chase Stanback chipped in with 10.
The Aztecs blew the Rebels away on the boards thanks to Leonard out-rebounding them 36-24.
So, the Rebels end their season with a 24-8 record and wait in anticipation for the expected NCAA bid. Regardless of how they do in the big dance I think it's fair to say that this has been a very good season for the Runnin'Rebels. With only two graduating seniors the Rebels brings back it's starting five plus a host of players that have seen plenty of game time this year.
If all goes as planned next year should be even better, but right now the Rebels, Coach Kruger, and yours truly have only one thing in mind and that's what will tomorrow bring.
I can't wait.
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