Brian Dutcher didn’t get what he wanted Saturday night in the final seconds against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
“To be honest, I was trying to take a timeout,” the Aztecs coach said.
The end result, though, was exactly what Dutcher wanted, a 69-67 last-second victory over the Wolf Pack. Aztecs’ guard Trey Pulliam went the length of the court and hit a shot in the lane just before the buzzer for a two-game sweep at home against the Wolf Pack.
“I know sometimes people get mad because they think I don’t take enough timeouts,” Dutcher said. “But when I do not get a timeout, we win the game.”
The two victories, as well as a 78-65 win over Colorado State last Monday, put the Aztecs in the No. 1 spot in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings.
The Wolf Pack (8-5, 3-3), which also lost 65-60 at San Diego State on Thursday, remained at No. 5.
Dutcher’s Aztecs, now 9-2, 3-1, saw Nevada rally from a 60-51 deficit with 5:28 to go to tie Saturday’s game at 67-67 on a 3-pointer by Grant Sherfield with six seconds to play. Pulliam then kept the game from going to overtime with his last-second heroics.
“I do not mind taking it out and just going up the floor,” Dutcher said. “Basketball is a game of momentum and sometimes you can draw something up and it’s not as good as what you get (without a timeout). It’s about trusting your players. I just wanted to make sure we attacked the basket and Trey did.”
Pulliam, who leads the Mountain West in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.57), had seven points in 23 minutes on Saturday. The Aztecs’ Matt Mitchell had 20 points, thanks to 11-of-11 shooting from the free throw line. Sherfield also had 20 points for Nevada as well as nine assists.
“I just tried to get it down the court and up on the rim,” Pulliam said of his game-winning play.
Sherfield had 22 points in the Wolf Pack’s loss on Thursday, including a pair of free throws with 2:16 to go that gave the Pack a 60-58 lead.
“It stinks because we had two games that kind of ended the same way,” Wolf Pack coach Steve Alford said.
Alford said the Wolf Pack lost both games to the Aztecs at the free throw line. San Diego State was 35-of-42 from the line in the two games while the Pack was 23-of-28. Mitchell was 20-of-21 in the two games from the line.
The Wolf Pack has two key games this week at Lawlor Events Center on Friday and Sunday against No. 6 Fresno State.
Fresno State (5-3, 3-3) went 3-0 last week, beating Wyoming 81-61 and San Jose State twice (79-64 and 80-65).
Sophomore Deon Stroud had 36 points in the two games against San Jose State while Orlando Robinson had 34 points and 21 rebounds. Robinson also had 33 points and 13 rebounds against Wyoming earlier in the week. Robinson leads the Mountain West in rebounding (10.6) and is third in scoring (18.1).
“We are getting better,” Fresno State coach Justin Hutson said. “We are getting some practices and games under our belts and we are finding out a little bit about our team.”
No. 2 Boise State (10-1, 6-0) whipped Air Force twice last week (78-59, 80-69).
Abu Kigab had 25 points and 11 rebounds in the 80-69 win while Derrick Alston had 35 points in the two games combined. A.J. Walker had 39 points for Air Force in the two-game series.
No. 3 Colorado State (8-2, 5-1) recovered from a 78-65 loss to San Diego State on Monday to sweep a two-game series from No. 8 UNLV on Thursday and Saturday at Fort Collins, Colo. (74-71 and 83-80). UNLV played well in the series considering it was the Rebels’ first games since Dec. 5.
Colorado State’s Isaiah Stevens had 47 points in the two games and was named the conference’s Player of the Week. Stevens had a dozen assists in the series and nine 3-pointers.
UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton had 51 points in the two games and five threes. Hamilton leads the Mountain West in scoring at 22.1 points a game. Cheikh Mbacke Diong also played well for the Rebels with 20 points and 27 rebounds in the series.
“Guys trading blows, players making shot after shot after shot,” Colorado State coach Niko Medved said. “I kept thinking to myself, ‘How cool this could have been to have fans see these kinds of games.’”
“These are the fun ones,” Colorado State’s John Tonje said. “These games went down to the wire to see who could gut it out.”
No. 4 Utah State (9-3, 6-0) blew out New Mexico twice last week, 77-45 and 82-46. The Aggies led 41-18 and 45-18 at halftime in both games. Utah State center Neemias Queta had 29 points and eight blocks in the two games.
Utah State will host San Diego State in a pair of key games this week on Thursday and Saturday.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West men’s basketball rankings:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (9-2, 3-1): Last week: San Diego State 78, Colorado State 65 (Jan. 4); San Diego State 65, Nevada 60 (Jan. 7), San Diego State 69, Nevada 67 (Jan. 9). This week: San Diego State at Utah State (Jan. 14, 16).
2. BOISE STATE (10-1, 6-0): Last week: Boise State 78, Air Force 59 (Jan. 6), Boise State 80, Air Force 69 (Jan. 8). This week: Boise State at Wyoming (Jan. 11, 13).
3. COLORADO STATE (8-2, 5-1): Last week: San Diego State 78, Colorado State 65 (Jan. 4); Colorado State 74, UNLV 71 (Jan. 7), Colorado State 83, UNLV 80 (Jan. 9). This week: Colorado State vs. San Jose State at Phoenix (Jan. 14, 16).
4. UTAH STATE (9-3, 6-0): Last week: Utah State 77, New Mexico 45 (Jan. 6), Utah State 82, New Mexico 46 (Jan. 8). This week: San Diego State at Utah State (Jan. 14, 16).
5. NEVADA (8-5, 3-3): Last week: San Diego State 65, Nevada 60 (Jan. 7), San Diego State 69, Nevada 67 (Jan. 9). This week: Fresno State at Nevada (Jan. 15, 17)
6. FRESNO STATE (5-3, 3-3): Last week: Fresno State 81, Wyoming 61 (Jan. 4); Fresno State 79, San Jose State 64 (Jan. 8), Fresno State 80, San Jose State 65 (Jan. 10). This week: Fresno State at Nevada (Jan. 15, 17).
7. WYOMING (7-2, 1-1): Last week: Fresno State 81, Wyoming 61 (Jan. 4); This week: Boise State at Wyoming (Jan. 11, 13), Wyoming at Air Force (Jan. 16).
8. UNLV (1-6, 0-2): Last week: Colorado State 74, UNLV 71 (Jan. 7), Colorado State 83, UNLV 80 (Jan. 9). This week: Saint Katherine at UNLV (Jan. 12), New Mexico at UNLV (Jan. 16).
9. AIR FORCE (3-7, 1-5): Last week: Boise State 78, Air Force 59 (Jan. 6), Boise State 80, Air Force 69 (Jan. 8). This week: Wyoming at Air Force (Jan. 16).
10. NEW MEXICO (3-6, 0-6): Last week: Utah State 77, New Mexico 45 (Jan. 6), Utah State 82, New Mexico 46 (Jan. 8). This week: New Mexico at UNLV (Jan. 16).
11. SAN JOSE STATE (2-8, 0-6): Last week: San Jose State 80, Benedictine 64 (Jan. 4); Fresno State 79, San Jose State 64 (Jan. 8), Fresno State 80, San Jose State 65 (Jan. 10). This week: San Jose State vs. Colorado State at Phoenix (Jan. 14, 16).