Marquette (7-4) vs. New Mexico (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 21, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: MGM Grand Garden Arena (16,800) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Marquette 5-1, UNM 4-1. Away Record: Marquette 1-2, UNM 1-1. Neutral Record: Marquette 1-1, UNM 2-1. Conference Record: Marquette 0-0, UNM 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Lobos of New Mexico is set to take place tonight in Las Vegas, as the teams clash in the MGM Grand Showcase.
Marquette has been solid at home so far this season with five wins in six chances, but out on the road the squad is only 2-3, although most of those contests away from home came against tough competition. Most recently, the Golden Eagles hosted Ball State and claimed a 91-53 win.
Meanwhile, the Lobos are a team that opened the 2013-14 campaign with seven wins in eight tries. However, the squad is now trying to shut down a two-game losing streak after bowing to in-state rival New Mexico State on Tuesday in a 67-61 final. Three days earlier, UNM also took an 80-63 loss to Kansas during the Kansas City Shootout.
Pounding the visiting Cardinals, Marquette had seven double-digit scorers in Milwaukee as the team shot better than 50 percent from the field and blew away Ball State by 38 points thanks to forcing 23 turnovers and allowing the Cardinals only 19-of-50 success from the floor. Chris Otule was credited with 14 points, Jamil Wilson 13, and both Jajuan Johnson and Deonte Burton with 12 points apiece. Derrick Wilson produced 11 points and five assists, while Davante Gardner and Juan Anderson tallied 10 points each in the lopsided decision.
Despite the balanced attack just a few days ago, the Golden Eagles are a squad that has just two players scoring in double figures at the moment in Gardner (14.4 ppg) and Jamil Wilson (12.3 ppg). Staying close to the basket, Gardner is shooting 54.6 percent from the field and is also the leading man on the glass with close to seven boards per contest, helping Marquette to a rebounding advantage of more than eight per game.
Even though they were playing in The Pit, the Lobos were overwhelmed by New Mexico State in the last outing, converting a total of just seven field goals in the first half. New Mexico fell behind by double figures at the break and never recovered as the Lobos shot a disappointing 34.6 percent from the floor and missed all seven chances behind the 3-point line. Cameron Bairstow tried to give the hosts a fighting chance with his 25 points, followed by Kendall Williams with 17 points and Alex Kirk, who recorded a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
After scoring no fewer than 88 points in any one of the first three games, the Lobos now find themselves having a hard time even reaching 70 points in recent weeks. In fact, New Mexico has been limited to 63 points or fewer in each of the last three outings, dropping the squad's overall average to 77.7 ppg, which is coming dangerously close to the 71.5 ppg being put up by the competition. Bairstow (20.7 ppg) and Williams (19.4 ppg) continue to be the main scoring threats, while Kirk (16.5 ppg) becomes even more significant in the paint with his 9.8 rpg.
The offense has been sputtering of late for the Lobos, but maybe the fact that they are playing in a familiar locale will have them revisiting past glories in Sin City as they take on the Golden Eagles.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 75, Marquette 71
12/21 10:32:21 ET