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No. 23 SDSU meets Nevada in Mountain West showdown

Dec 5, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; Troy Trojans guard Christyon Eugene (center) is screened by San Diego State Aztecs forward Jaedon LeDee (13) as guard Lamont Butler (right) dribbles the ball during the second half at Viejas Arena. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The final two undefeated teams in Mountain West Conference play will meet up on Tuesday night when No. 23 San Diego State plays host to Nevada.

The Aztecs (12-3, 3-0 Mountain West) have won five in a row overall and three straight in conference to rejoin the Top 25.

San Diego State opened the season at No. 19 and rose as high as No. 17 for consecutive weeks before dropping out following a loss to unranked Saint Mary’s, 68-61, on Dec. 10.

It’s the 94th week the Aztecs have appeared in the rankings since the start of the 2010-11 season, more than any other men’s program in California during that span.

San Diego State is coming off an 80-75 win at Wyoming on Saturday night.

Wyoming shot 57.8 percent from the field, but the Aztecs had some big performances on offense to hold on for the win. Lamont Butler scored 23 points and shot 8 of 15 from the field, while Matt Bradley contributed 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.

Butler shot just under 40 percent from the field his first two seasons with the Aztecs but is up to 46.5 this season, partly because he’s 15 of 26 (57.7 percent) in the past three games.

“I feel like I can shoot the ball at a high level,” Butler said. “I haven’t been shooting it as well as I want to this year, but (against Wyoming) I was unconscious — just shooting without a care — and it fell.”

San Diego State is shooting better as a team lately, too, especially from long distance.

The Aztecs have reached double figures in made 3-pointers in each of the past four games while shooting 46.8 percent from beyond the arc in that span.

Before the latest hot stretch, San Diego State combined to shoot 24.6 percent from 3-point range over a three-game stretch that included the loss to Saint Mary’s.

One player who needs to bring more consistency to the Aztecs is senior guard Darrion Trammell. He scored 18 points in a 62-46 win against UC San Diego on Dec. 20, and 21 points in a 76-67 victory against Nevada-Las Vegas on Dec. 31.

Following those performances, however, Trammell was held to six points on 2-of-8 shooting in a 71-55 win against Air Force, and four points on 1-of-5 shooting against Wyoming.

Nevada (14-3, 4-0) has been the biggest surprise in the MWC so far. The Wolf Pack were selected to finish ninth in the league but have already defeated two teams that were picked to finish in the top four.

Nevada opened conference play with a 74-72 win against visiting Boise State, which was picked to finish third. After another single-digit win against Air Force on Dec. 31, the Wolf Pack knocked off visiting Colorado State 80-69 on Wednesday.

Most recently, Nevada topped San Jose State 67-40 on Saturday.

The Wolf Pack are led by senior guard Jarod Lucas, who averaged double figures in points the past two seasons at Oregon State. Lucas is averaging a team-high 17.0 points for Nevada.

The Wolf Pack should also have a significant height advantage on the Aztecs. Lucas is the shortest starter for Nevada at 6-feet-4. The rest of the starters are 6-6, 6-6, 6-7 and 7-0.

–Field Level Media