There are two ways to look at what transpired Saturday afternoon at Viejas Arena, where the San Diego State men’s basketball team crushed UNLV 94-56 in what felt like a November paycheck game against a Southland Conference team that starts a 6-foot-5 power forward wearing a headband and goggles.
On one hand, you’d be forgiven if you came away a little bitter.
Where the hell has this been? That aggressive defense, that commitment to doing something on offense besides jacking threes, that perfect use of the bench. If SDSU stated playing like that a couple of months ago we’d be talking about NCAA Tournament seeding rather than the thrilling quest to avoid the conference tournament play-in round.
On the other hand, LOLOLOLOL eat it UNLV.
The Aztecs just rained merciless destruction on one of our most hated rivals, delivering the biggest beating ever in this series. Keep in mind, that spans 69 games and includes several seasons in the ’90s when SDSU was seriously putrid. The Rebels are probably hitchhiking back to Vegas right now while Malik Pope joyrides their team bus through Pacific Beach. At least I hope so.
Yeah, I’m feeling like going with option No. 2 here. Today was awesome, so I say let’s sit back, relax and enjoy the following video of SDSU beating UNLV with a pillowcase full of doorknobs, metaphorically. Mostly metaphorically.
Here is Max Montana (17 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench) with a block and the three-pointer on the other end. Note that the game is still kinda close — it didn’t last!
Here is when the game got less close. Look at Pope (17 points, 9 rebounds) matador that UNLV dude into oblivion and then coolly drain a trey. Look at it on repeat, for like an hour. I have never seen a corner three look so much like bullying in my entire life.
Here is Pope doing some more bullying, albeit the more conventional kind.
Here is Jalen McDaniels (18 points, 12 boards) flying through the air like a got dang majestic pterodactyl.
Here is more murder death kill from Malik in the second half.
Here is a nice 25-point lead.
Here is Montana not giving a fuck, in the best way possible.
Here is another alley-oop. Seriously, what is the record for most alley-oops?
Here is Jeremy Hemsley. We are all Jeremy Hemsley.
This highlight reel doesn’t even show Matt Mitchell, who scored a game-high 21 points.
Or SDSU’s defense, which was magnificent in limiting 7-foot-1 post Brandon McCoy to a 3-of-11 shooting game and forcing the Rebels into 19 turnovers, including 14 (14!) in the first half.
Or the Aztecs’ unselfish, smart, aggressive offense, which had more assists (22) than SDSU had turnovers and team fouls combined (21).
Or Nolan Narain, who made the most of his minutes for the second straight game and has very likely supplanted Kameron Rooks in the rotation moving forward. Probably. Hopefully?
So the question is this: Dare we dream?
At the very least, the Aztecs now have a glimmer of hope in their push for a first-round Mountain West Tournament bye. Take it away, CBS Sports Network graphics department:
SDSU now hits the road for very winnable games at Air Force and San Jose State (keep in mind that the Aztecs somehow lost at both of those places last year), then closes out the season with tough home games against Boise State and Nevada. Win three of those four and the Aztecs may have a shot at that sweet, sweet 5 seed.
No matter what happens, we’ll always have that time SDSU beat UNLV by 38 freaking points.
Never, ever forget it.