FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pit (17,126) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: ROOT-RM. Home Record: Portland 2-0, New Mexico 2-0. Away Record: Portland 0-2, New Mexico 0-0. Neutral Record: Portland 0-0, New Mexico 3-0. Conference Record: Portland 0-0, New Mexico 0-0. Series Record: New Mexico leads 1-0.
GAME NOTES: One of the hottest teams in the country takes the floor on Sunday when the undefeated New Mexico Lobos play host to the Portland Pilots at the Pit.
Stringing wins together is not something Portland can boast of this season. In four games the Pilots have alternated wins and losses with the most recent decision an 81-60 rout of crosstown rival Portland State. Both of these teams' losses have come on the road by an average deficit of 24 points. Portland will be at home in its next matchup to face Lewis & Clark College.
The Lobos have sprinted out of the gates this season with wins in each of their first five games. That included three wins in four days to secure the Paradise Jam tournament title with a 66-60 victory over No. 21 Connecticut. In its first game after that tournament win the Lobos bested Idaho 73-58 at home. This is the second of a three-game homestand for New Mexico that closes out the month.
In only one previous meeting Portland outlasted New Mexico 77-71 in a game played during the 2003-04 season.
In its win over Portland State, the Pilots were able to put the game away very early on as they shot at a stunning 71.0 percent clip over the first 20 minutes including makes on 5-of-7 shots from 3-point range. Portland also had 10 more rebounds than the Vikings. Tanner Riley was the lynchpin for the team with 23 points off the bench while Ryan Nicholas (10 points, 9 rebounds ) just missed out on a double-double.
Scoring 81 points put Portland into new territory this season. It was nearly 20 points more than the team's previous high in a game. Overall the Pilots are scoring only 62.2 points per game despite shooting a respectable 45.5 percent from the field. Nicholas (14.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg) is the top scoring option for the team. However the 6-foot-7 forward has struggled in his last two games connecting on only 5-of-20 shots from the field with only 19 combined points. Kevin Bailey (12.0 ppg) is also scoring in double figures and does so while sporting an impressive 51.5 field goal percentage. Riley (9.0 ppg) is a reasonable solid scorer and Thomas van der Mars (6.5 ppg, 80.0 FG percentage) has finished on just about every shot he has taken.
New Mexico got a real test from Idaho and found itself tied 36-36 at halftime against the Vandals. However in the second half the Lobos shot 57.1 percent from the field and used a 19-0 run to pull away for the win. The Lobos hit 10- of-20 shots from beyond the arc in the contest. Demetrius Walker led the team in scoring with 19 points while hitting all five of his 3-point attempts off the bench.
The Lobos are scoring at a steady 72.2 points per game clip while shooting 43.1 percent from the floor as a team. On the other end New Mexico is holding team's to 65.4 points a contest and 40.7 percent shooting while benefiting from a +5.4 rebounding differential. Tony Snell and Kendall Williams have been the two focal points for team. Williams (15.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.0 apg) is the lead scorer and is also getting his teammates involved. Snell (15.2 ppg, 3.6 apg) is not as effective a rebounder but similarly makes an impact in distribution. Alex Kirk (10.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) is also scoring in double figures and is the team's top scorers. Walker (9.4 ppg) was relegated to the bench for the first time against Idaho but excelled in a reserve role.
After this weekend is done New Mexico should be a team that at the least is being heavily considered in the national rankings. That is if the Lobos avoid a stumble against Portland, something that shouldn't prove too much of an issue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 78, Portland 64
11/25 10:41:35 ET
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