(15) New Mexico (17-2) at San Diego State (15-4)
Saturday, January 26, 4 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Viejas Arena (12,414) -- San Diego, California. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: UNM 10-1, SDSU 8-1. Away Record: UNM 4-1, SDSU 4-1. Neutral Record: UNM 3-0, SDSU 3-2. Conference Record: UNM 4-0, SDSU 3-2. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 40-32.
GAME NOTES: Two of the premiere teams in the Mountain West Conference get together on Saturday afternoon at Viejas Arena, as the San Diego State Aztecs welcome 15th-ranked New Mexico State to town.
New Mexico is unbeaten in the new year, posting four straight victories since bowing to Saint Louis on New Year's Eve, 60-46. The most recent win for Steve Alford and his crew came on Wednesday night versus Colorado State, 66-61. The decision made UNM 4-0 in conference play, the last of the unbeaten in league action.
As for the Aztecs, they too were nationally-ranked not that long ago, but the squad hit a couple of rough patches with setbacks against UNLV and Wyoming in consecutive outings. The loss to the Cowboys was especially painful as the team scored a season-low 45 points, a mere nine in the first half alone.
On Wednesday night, SDSU landed back in the win column with a convincing 78-57 triumph over Nevada in Reno in order to move to 3-2 in conference play, tying them with UNLV for second place in the standings heading into the weekend.
The Lobos are ahead in the all-time series with San Diego State by a count of 40-32, thanks to a 2-1 mark in the meetings last season. New Mexico posted a 68-59 win in the most recent encounter, that being in the title game of the 2012 MWC Tournament.
Tony Snell's leadership came through a few nights back as he registered a game-high 23 points in the victory against visiting Colorado State in The Pit. Snell connected on 8-of-19 shots from the floor, the only player on the team to have taken more than seven field goal attempts for UNM, and hitting on 4- of-4 tries at the charity stripe. Chad Adams added 13 points as he too was perfect at the free-throw line (6-of-6), the team finishing up 21-of-26 which easily was the difference in the game since the Rams were just 13-of-23 on the night. The Lobos found a way to win despite shooting only 36.5 percent from the floor overall in the meeting. Snell, one of only two players to have started every game this season, is second on the Lobos in scoring with 12.6 ppg, trailing only Kendall Williams who is putting up 14.1 ppg while also pacing the program in assists with 83 in his 18 appearances. In addition to a tough defense, one that is allowing only 61.6 ppg, UNM has thrived at the free-throw line this season where they have scored 368 points, compared to only 199 for the opposition.
Chase Tapley scored 17 points as the San Diego State Aztecs posted a 21-point win over the Nevada Wolf Pack in Mountain West Conference action at the Lawlor Events Center earlier this week. Also scoring in double figures for SDSU were Jamaal Franklin and JJ O'Brien with 14 and 12 points, respectively, the former also clearing seven rebounds, handing out five assists and capturing four steals in order to offset his six turnovers. The reserves for San Diego State came up with 25 points on the night, compared to just 10 for Nevada. Although he is shooting just 25.6 percent behind the 3-point line through 18 games this season, Franklin is still the leading scorer for the group with 17.8 ppg. A dominant performer in the paint with 9.6 rpg, there are times when Franklin would be better off forgetting about trying to be a perimeter threat on offense and focus more on his strengths. Tapley accounts for another 14.9 ppg and it is he who has shown the better accuracy on the outside at 42.3 percent. Defensively, this group is holding the competition to only 60.1 ppg on 38.7 percent shooting from the floor.
Going up against the Aztecs is tough enough these days, but to do so in their own building with so much on the line, this is a match that could easily bring the Lobos their first conference loss of the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego State 65, New Mexico 60
01/26 10:47:42 ET