New Mexico State (22-9) at Fresno State (13-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 10:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Save Mart Center (15,596) -- Fresno, California. Television: None. Home Record: NMSU 14-3, FSU 9-4. Away Record: NMSU 6-5, FSU 3-12. Neutral Record: NMSU 2-1, FSU 1-2. Conference Record: NMSU 9-4, FSU 3-10. Series Record: New Mexico State leads, 23-13.
GAME NOTES: The New Mexico State Aggies will attempt to lock up second place in the Western Athletic Conference tonight as they head to the Save Mart Center to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs.
This will be the 37th matchup between New Mexico State and the Bulldogs in history. The Aggies lead the all-time series 23-13 after they picked up a 60-56 victory over Fresno State on Jan. 28. The Bulldogs were head of NMSU in the second half of this season's initial meeting, but the Aggies rallied late for a win.
Coach Marvin Menzies has done a very good job this season, leading his Aggies to a 22-9 overall record and second place in the WAC standings. NMSU still has to feel like it could have done more after 65-61 loss to the conference- leading Nevada Wolf Pack on Thursday night. NMSU had a chance to tie with 21 seconds left but an errant pass ruined its chances and Nevada clinched the regular-season title. The Aggies have the highest scoring offense in the WAC with an average of 78.2 ppg, which has enabled them to outscore their opponents by an average of 10.0 ppg.
Wendell McKines continued his magnificent senior campaign on Thursday as he finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds in the loss to Nevada. The senior forward leads the WAC with averages of 18.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. McKines has had help from his fellow seniors, Hernst Laroche and Hamidu Rahman, this season. Hernst has produced 12.2 points and 3.7 assists per game as the Aggies' point guard, while Rahman adds 10.5 points and 6.1 boards per outing from the center position.
Fresno State will attempt to ends its regular season on a high note after losing its last two games to arrive at a 13-18 overall record. The Bulldogs are in second to last place in the WAC with a 3-10 record in league play. Rodney Terry has not produced an impressive record in his first year, but his team has been very competitive. The Bulldogs have lost 13 games by single digit margins, including three overtime losses. Fresno State showed its ability to challenge anyone in the WAC last week as they took the conference leading Nevada Wolf Pack to triple overtime.
Sophomore guard Kevin Olekaibe has been FSU's top scorer this season, but he was held to just eight points by Louisiana Tech on Thursday. NMSU will still need to key on Olekaibe when game planning, as he showed his abilities with a 43-point outing versus Seattle on Feb. 23. While Olekaibe struggled against Louisiana Tech, Jonathan Willis scored a team-high 16 points, Garrett Johnson chipped in 12 points, and Tyler Johnson added 10 points.
After being in contention for the WAC regular season title entering this week, the Aggies can find themselves in third place if they fail to win tonight. FSU has made one thing clear all season, it is going to compete every single night regardless of all other factors. With Olekaibe being limited his last couple of games, expect him to break out of his slump and produce big numbers. McKines is going to have to outperform FSU's sophomore scorer to lock up second place for NMSU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 68, Fresno State 66
03/03 10:38:05 ET