An 8pm, Wednesday night game, in the middle of the semester, in Las Vegas, the week before the Mountain West Tournament. Not the most ideal game for students to go make the 325-mile journey. What originally seemed like an improbable trip, the desire to see us beat one of our most hated rivals on their home court proved to be too much, so BlondeShow and myself decided last minute to make the two person trek to the City of Sin.
We left around 10:00 am Wednesday morning, and had a pretty smooth ride up. We arrived in Barstow and ate lunch at the In n Out to refuel. I’m about 99% sure the only reason that Barstow exists is to act as a halfway point for Southern California travelers on their way to Vegas. With the game being at 8:00, we were not in any rush to get there. About a week before, we had both been talking about getting a new pair of Vans, and lucky us, across from the In n Out was a Vans outlet store, so we checked that out, and got ourselves a fresh new pair of kicks.
Headed back on the road, we pulled into the city around 3:00, and headed northbound on the I-15 we noticed two billboards put up by San Diego State reading, “Excellence Starts Here,” and “Community Building Starts Here.” One billboard had a picture of recent San Diego State graduates, while the other had an image of The Show at one of the recent games. Big ups to our school; I found out these billboards will be up and running through the Mountain West Tournament, thus asserting our dominance on that city, and making our Aztec presence felt
With plenty of time to kill before tipoff, we walked around the strip awhile before finally making it to our inevitable pregaming destination, Blondie’s. We spent about two hours there watching the Duke vs. Wake Forest game before it was time to head on down to the Thomas & Mack, aka Viejas North. We arrived about an hour before tipoff and made our way to our seats. The overall Aztec contingent was small, but in comparison to what the Rebels fans brought to their home arena, I’d say there was a pretty good chunk of Aztec fans. It was senior night at UNLV, and they began honoring their two players about 10 minutes before tipoff, in front of a less than half full arena. Finally, it was time for tipoff and the Mack looked maybe two thirds full. The announced attendance was 16,030, but I’m not too sure that there were more than 13,000 maximum. UNLV was giving out white t-shirts in an attempt to do a white out, but it would have been much more successful had they painted their seats white, because there was a lot of empty red seats that stood out from the crowd. Just before the game got underway, when it was fairly quiet I belted out “GO AZTECS!” I was met with few jeers, but many fans seemed disinterested. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve lost now 7 home games on the season, and 8 if you include the preseason loss vs. Dixie State.
Overall I would say this was definitely not the best basketball environment I’d been to all season, definitely the worst I’ve ever seen the Thomas & Mack. The place just never seemed to get loud other than a few minutes, and the crowd never seemed to into the game. I guess there’s only so much they can do when they’ve only got the one chant. The small group of Rebels in front of me cheered the whole time, but it was a monotonous “Re-bels.” As for our own personal rivalry with their student section, I have to give them some credit. They were full, and their puppet thing looked cooler in person. But again I don’t feel like they, or the rest of the crowd, had any real affect on the game. No consistency in chants or volume.
By now, we all know how the game turned out, and I thought it was a great team victory. I thought everyone hustles and played well, and just knew how important this game really was for us. Polee with some big time dunks fired up the Aztec faithful, and Matt Shrigley just absolutely caught fire. Sky making plays at both ends of the court, X and Winston closing out the victory. Everyone played a key role in the win. Having left the arena the last two times with a loss, it felt so good to yell the fight song as the mass exodus of Rebel fans ensued.
We walked towards the team bus to congratulate the coaches and players, and wish them luck for the big one on Saturday. As Matt Shrigley walked up to the bus, we greeted him by doing the ‘Shrigley Shuffle.’ He laughed and I asked him if he knew what that was to which he replied, “I have no Idea.” It was magical. They all appreciated us making the trip, and I could tell the players and the coaching staff were already focused on the next one.
The team drove off, and BlondeShow and I were so ecstatic after the win, we were actually looking forward to the long drive home that night. But first we had to make a stop on campus. You see, it wouldn’t be a true RoadShow without finding a statue to mount, and I knew there was one of their mascot, Hey Reb, somewhere on campus. We walked around for a while without any luck, until ran into a few UNLV students wearing a Rebellion t-shirt. I asked if they had any idea of where it was, and they pointed me right in the direction of it. So thank you to the UNLV student section for helping us further assert our dominance over your school. We took some pictures mounting it, and proceeded to walk back to our car, but were able to catch a ride with a UNLV overnight employee who drove us back to where we were parked. Really cool guy who was just happy to help us out.
We finally made it back to our car and left the city at 12:00 am, with a long drive ahead of us, ultimately arriving back to San Diego State at 5:00 am. The drive was made doable by the great win, some great conversation, a 5-hour energy, and some singing to a sweet play list. Fun Fact: The distance between Las Vegas, Nevada and San Diego State is approximately 70 Taylor Swift songs. Overall, fun road trip, and I’m really glad I was able to make it to the last regular season road game of the year. Funny thing is, we’ll be right back there in less than a week. But first, let’s get loud on Saturday. Montezuma’s Revenge.
Until next time,