Junior guard Chase Tapley had some words for his teammate, who was lying on the ground in pain.
“I said, ‘You have to get up, we need you, you’re not hurt,’” Tapley said in the post-game press conference.
Franklin got up, checked back in the game and made the biggest shot of the SDSU men’s basketball team’s season.
With the game tied at 67, Franklin hit a game-winning layup with 0.3 seconds left to give the Aztecs a victory against the 12th-ranked Runnin’ Rebels.
Franklin decided to take the ball to the hoop at the end because he had been struggling with his jump shot during the course of the game.
“I knew time was going out, my jump shot hadn’t been falling, so I had to get to the rim,” Franklin said. “I was going to try to draw a foul, but (UNLV junior guard) Anthony Marshall stepped up, tried to take a charge and I side stepped and got the basket.”
Franklin never had a doubt that he was going to come back in the game after he suffered his ankle injury.
“We’re a family,” Franklin said. “If my ankle is broken and they want me out there, I’ll be out there.”
The win in the conference opener, which was in front an electric crowd of 12,414 at Viejas Arena, improved No. 22 SDSU’s record to 15-2.
It was also the team’s sixth straight win against UNLV and ninth in the last 10 games against its conference rival.
James and Jamaal: Partners in crime
Franklin was having a great game even before he hit the game-winning shot. He finished the game with a double-double as he scored 24 points and recorded 10 rebounds.
He had a dazzling behind-the-back layup in the second half which ignited the crowd.
Franklin had a block, which was questionably called a foul, on a fast-break which was one of his most impressive plays of the season.
The team was also helped by the effort of junior guard James Rahon.
Rahon, who pulled out the “Tebow” in the pregame dance circle, scored 22 points in what was his most important performance as an Aztec.
Head coach Steve Fisher credited Rahon for hitting shots in crucial moments of the game.
“I thought James Rahon stepped up and made some huge shots for us when we needed baskets,” Fisher said.
Slowing down the Rebels
UNLV averages 81 points per game. They scored 90 points in a ten-point win against third-ranked North Carolina.
Against SDSU, UNLV scored 67 points and only shot 35 percent from the field.
The Aztecs delivered its best defensive effort trying to contain the high-octane Runnin’ Rebels.
The SDSU coaching staff put in a lot of time trying to come up with a plan for trying to slow down UNLV.
“I would like to single out Brian Dutcher, Mark Fisher and Tony Bland,” Fisher said. “They watched the last eight games UNLV played. I thought what they said we should do defensively was very effective.”
Anthony Marshall was the only UNLV player to score double-digit points. He scored a game-high 26 points.
Mike Moser, who has put up huge numbers in a number of games this year, was held nine points on 3-of-11 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
Fisher acknowledged that the game was won on the defensive side of the floor.
“We made it, for the most part, hard for them to get the ball in the basket,” Fisher said. “We won the game because we defended.”
It was hands-down, the best atmosphere at Viejas Arena this season. The crowd was just as good as the game was.
There was a buzz in the arena throughout the game.
Fisher gave high praise to the crowd and named the atmosphere as one of the best he’s ever experienced.
“The crowd was absolutely sensational,” Fisher said. “They helped us get this victory without a doubt.”
“I told our players after the game that I watched the BCS National Championship game and that I am going to watch the Super Bowl.” Fisher said. “Most people, if they were honest, would say that the BCS game and probably the Super Bowl hails in comparison to the atmosphere.”
News and notes
This was the second straight game against UNLV that ended with the Aztecs winning in the final seconds. The last time was when D.J. Gay broke the Runnin’ Rebels’ hearts in last year’s Mountain West Conference tournament.
SDSU will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. to play the New Mexico Lobos at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.