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November 23, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: UNLV at San Diego State

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

The San Diego State mascot cheers during their Mountain West Conference Tournament game against New Mexico Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Today is one for the record books as our very own Case Keefer is getting married. As a gift, I’ve decided to pick a game correctly in his honor.

Rebels fans won’t like it, but considering our overall record with the Vegas Play of the Day maybe you should actually be thanking me for jinxing your opponent:

San Diego State minus-9 against UNLV: $440 to win $400

I loved the Rebels to cover on Wednesday at the Pit and so I wasn’t too surprised that they won the game. An upset at Viejas Arena would count as a shocker in my book, and even though the games in this rivalry have been very close for the past three years, I think the 10th-ranked Aztecs are going to end that streak.

UNLV was always likely going to drop off from its 50 percent shooting performance in that New Mexico game no matter who it played next, but toss in that it’s against SDSU’s stingy defense and that drop could be at least 10 percentage points. The Rebels will need their own defense to make up for that, and considering their past games against great point guards I think that’s going to be a significant challenge.

The Aztecs’ Xavier Thames can’t jump as high as UNR’s Deonte Burton or run as fast as Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, but he’s just as, if not more, important to his team as those guys are to theirs. Thames makes everything run more smoothly for SDSU and while most of the team struggled in Wednesday’s 68-60 victory against Fresno State he posted an efficient 28 points on 13 shots.

Overlooking UNLV, which never seemed likely, is now completely off the table for the Aztecs, who had to come from behind against the Bulldogs while the Rebels notched that important victory in Albuquerque. Add in that former UNLV assistant Justin Hutson will have SDSU’s defense running full throttle for this one and I think it’s too much for the Rebels to overcome. I’m going with San Diego State 77, UNLV 66.

Standings: Bern (1-2, $9,430), Brewer (1-2-1, $9,290), Keefer (1-3, $9,175)

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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