No. 25 San Diego State looks forward to being back at full strength when it hosts UNLV on Saturday in a Mountain West Conference game.
The Aztecs (19-5, 10-2 MWC) watched one of their best players head to the locker room after a controversial ejection in the first half of a 63-61 win at Utah State on Wednesday.
The game had just stopped for a timeout when several players began pushing and shoving in front of the San Diego State bench.
Darrion Trammell, the starting point guard for the Aztecs who’s second on the team in scoring (10.5 points per game) and leads in assists (3.6), came off the bench to greet his teammates at the timeout. He was in the middle of the scrum and was ejected for leaving the bench.
Two walk-on players and an assistant coach for Utah State also were ejected.
“The officials told me there was an altercation, Darrion came off the bench and he pushed somebody, and he was ejected,” SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said. “I just told the team: ‘This is done. We can’t do a thing about it. … We have to put it behind us immediately and continue to play.'”
The Aztecs needed their other weapons to step up and Matt Bradley, Jaedon LeDee and Micah Parrish came through against Utah State.
The victory not only helped the Aztecs take a one-game game lead in the conference standings, but showed San Diego State has the depth to pick up the slack when down a key player.
Bradley scored 18 points, his best effort since putting up 23 against UNLV in a 76-67 win on Dec. 31.
LeDee had 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for his first double-double with San Diego State. Parrish pitched in 12 points off the bench.
Dutcher had plenty of good things to say about Bradley, a returning first-team All-MWC selection who was ripe for a better effort after scoring just three points in a 72-52 win against Boise State on Feb. 3.
“I like the way Matt turns up his game when it’s most needed and it was most needed tonight,” Dutcher said. “He turned it up on the biggest stage for us.”
Bradley’s jumper with 5:44 left gave the Aztecs a 62-52 lead, a big basket considering that would be the final field goal of the game for San Diego State.
“Matt Bradley was able to make big, important baskets when nothing else was working,” Dutcher said. “He looked like the player of the year in the conference tonight. He was really good.”
UNLV (16-8, 5-7) has won four of five following a 69-59 win at Wyoming on Wednesday.
Elijah Harkless has been red-hot for the Rebels. He matched his season high with 33 points against the Cowboys and is averaging 24.6 points in the past five games.
Harkless scored 18 points against the Aztecs earlier this season, but they limited him to 6-for-19 shooting from the field, including 2 of 10 from 3-point distance.
SDSU made 11 3-pointers in the first meeting and UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said his squad needs more repetitions to get better on defense.
“At this point the reps are a little more concentrated,” Kruger said. “Not necessarily just go-go-go, learn-learn-learn, learning on the fly, as much as really focused in and locked in on what’s been hurting us.”
–Field Level Media