LAS VEGAS (AP)Malachi Flynn scored 21 points and No. 4 San Diego State staved off UNLV’s second-half rally to win 71-67 on Sunday, remaining the country’s only unbeaten team.
The Aztecs (21-0, 10-0 Mountain West) broke the school record for best start in the program’s 99 seasons. San Diego State’s 21st consecutive victory also tops the school record of 20 straight wins, set during the 2010-11 season and matched by the 2013-14 squad that made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
It was San Diego State’s fifth straight win over UNLV and eighth consecutive road victory.
Trey Pulliam scored a career-high 18 points and Jordan Schakel contributed 11 points.
Bryce Hamilton scored 29 points to lead UNLV (11-11, 6-3). Reigning Mountain West Player of the Week Marvin Coleman chipped in with 11 points.
The Runnin’ Rebels used a 12-4 run to open the second half. They took the lead – their first since the game’s first basket – with 13:28 left when Cheikh Mbacke Diong’s bucket made it 40-38. That seemed to awaken the Aztecs, who went on a 15-7 run to lead 55-47 with 4:54 left.
UNLV opened the game by taking a page out San Diego State’s defensive playbook, limiting space for the Aztecs to operate and keeping the game close. Then the nation’s fourth-best scoring defense came to life to stymie the Runnin’ Rebels and used a quick 6-0 run to open an 18-9 lead.
The Aztecs, who rank fifth in the nation in limiting opposing teams to just 36.7% shooting from the floor, held UNLV to 11 of 27 shooting, including 2 for 12 (16.7%) from 3-point range.
Pulliam hit his career mark with 10 first-half points, culminating with a buzzer-beating jumper that gave the Aztecs a 34-28 lead at halftime.
San Diego State: Flynn continued to be a menace in the house of others. The All-American and National Player of the Year candidate is averaging just 13.9 points in 11 home games, but is now averaging 19.9 in road and neutral-site games.
UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels long-range game continued to struggle. Ranked 276th going into the game with a 3-point percentage of 31.5, UNLV hit 30.8% (8 of 26) from beyond the arc.
San Diego State should be safe at No. 4 in the AP Top 25 after going 2-0 this week.
San Diego State travels to New Mexico on Wednesday.
UNLV travels to Colorado State on Saturday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25