SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Jalen McDaniels Show continues to roll for San Diego State.
McDaniels had a career-high 30 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double as SDSU defeated UNLV 94-77 on Saturday night.
“I thought he played magnificently,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “We put a couple of new plays in that got him an extra look or two.”
McDaniels has the look of being able to play at the next level. About the only thing he did wrong on Saturday was convert a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
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“He’ll have to pay for that when we go to Las Vegas because they won’t forget that,” Dutcher said. “I didn’t want him to take it and I had already turned to go shake hands. But I’m not going to over-react to it. It’s part of being a young kid and doing some things that you learn not to do.”
But there has been little McDaniels hasn’t done well of late.
The 6-foot-10, 195-pound sophomore entered the game averaging nearly 20 points over his last seven games. Kawhi Leonard, during the 2010-11 season, was the last Aztecs player with five consecutive double-doubles.
“He’s doing what all the really good players here have done and that’s putting in the work,” Dutcher said of McDaniels. “He works like crazy in practice and like crazy away from practice.”
SDSU (11-8, 3-3 Mountain West) led by 11 points at halftime, and unlike in its last game against Fresno State when leading by 20 points, it didn’t squander an early double-digit advantage. The Aztecs extended their bulge to 19 points about five minutes into the second half and cruised in for the win.
UNLV (11-8, 5-2) was led by Joel Ntambwe’s 19 points in losing its sixth straight game at SDSU and for the 13th time in the teams’ last 14 meetings. The Rebels squandered a chance to pull into a tie atop the conference standings with Nevada being idle and Fresno State losing at Colorado State.
The Aztecs looked sharp as they continue their maddening up-and-down showing in conference play. They have followed every loss with a win and they had McDaniels, who added five steals and four assists, to thank for this victory.
UNLV entered the game among the conference leaders in numerous offensive categories but missed seven of its first eight shots as the Aztecs raced to a nine-point lead in the opening four minutes.
Amauri Hardy hit a 3-pointer, UNLV’s sixth of the game, to cut the deficit to 29-27 but the Rebels missed a chance to tie the game on their following possession. McDaniels sandwiched a pair of 3-point plays around a layup by Watson to push the lead back into double figures about 2 ½ minutes later.
“In the first half we tried to get the ball in the paint and beat them up down low,” SDSU’s Matt Mitchell said.
But it was McDaniels who once again provided the highlights.
“He plays with a lot of energy and it shows,” SDSU guard Jeremy Hemsley said. “But it’s not a surprise to the guys on the team.”
UNLV: The Rebels are trying to survive a challenging stretch of their schedule, including Saturday’s game at SDSU. Two of their next three games are on the road and the home game comes against No. 7 Nevada.
San Diego State: Jalen McDaniels’ string of solid play isn’t going unnoticed while the Aztecs remain inconsistent. There were eight NBA scouts in attendance, with most of their focus being on McDaniels.
UNLV plays visiting No. 7 Nevada on Tuesday.
San Diego State faces the Air Force Academy at home on Wednesday