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Wednesday, January 16, 9 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Taco Bell Arena (12,480) -- Boise, Idaho. Television: ROOT-RM. Home Record: UNM 9-1, BSU 7-0. Away Record: UNM 3-1, BSU 4-2. Neutral Record: UNM 3-0, BSU 2-0. Conference Record: UNM 2-0, BSU 1-0. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Boise State Broncos begin the home portion of their Mountain West Conference schedule on Wednesday night, as they entertain 19th-ranked New Mexico at Taco Bell Arena.
Undefeated in seven games at home here in 2012-13, the Broncos have won 13 games overall regardless of venue. After crushing Walla Walla in the last game here in Boise, 106-39, on Jan. 5 the team turned its attention to undefeated Wyoming in Laramie last week. The squad appeared headed for a third loss on the season before Jeff Elorriaga knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull off the 63-61 triumph.
As for the Lobos, their loss at Saint Louis on New Year's Eve knocked them down a few pegs, but they got right back up and tackled nationally-ranked UNLV (65-60) in The Pit and then crushed Fresno State at home over the weekend as well, 72-45. New Mexico, which opened the campaign on a 12-game win streak, has won three of the last four contests overall.
The Lobos swept both meetings with Boise State last season, the first-ever games between the two programs. New Mexico tackled the Broncos in Idaho by a score of 65-49, and then posted a 76-61 win in The Pit, which clinched the at least a share of the regular season title in the MWC for the Lobos.
New Mexico had no trouble taking care of Fresno State over the weekend, as the Bulldogs shot just 33.3 percent from the floor and ended up with more turnovers (19) than made baskets (16). Alex Kirk led the way for the hosts with 19 points and 14 rebounds, both game highs, while Cameron Bairstow and Tony Snell both dropped in 16 points as the Lobos survived 16 miscues and a mere 2-of-12 shooting beyond the arc. Although he did not play at all against Fresno State, Kendall Williams remains the top scorer for the group with his 14.6 ppg, although his mere 40.6 percent accuracy from the floor is a bit troubling. Kirk has made himself into one of the more dominant interior players in the MWC with 12.5 ppg and 7.9 rpg, his 51.7 percent shooting being tops on the unit. Playing clutch defense and being aggressive on offense has meant allowing just 60.9 ppg to the competition and outscoring them at the free-throw line by a margin of 323-171.
Making the win for the Broncos over Wyoming even more remarkable is the fact that the team played without Derrick Marks (16.3 ppg), and backups Mikey Thompson, Kenny Buckner and Darrious Hamilton, who didn't even make the trip after violating team rules. Instead, it was Elorriaga and Anthony Drmic who carried the program with 18 points apiece, the former hitting 6-of-10 shots behind the three-point line and the latter 2-of-4 before picking up his fifth personal foul. Also scoring in double figures was Igor Hadziomerovic who dropped in 11 points as the team connected on 11-of-19 shots beyond the arc. Should Marks be out of the picture once again, the Broncos will be leaning heavily on Drmic once more since he is the next-best scorer for the program with his 15.6 ppg. Elorriaga (11.9 ppg) continues to crank up the effort from the perimeter where he has connected on 49.5 percent of his shot attempts, pushing the team to 42.3 percent accuracy overall from the outside.
With Kirk emerging as a major force in the paint in the MWC, the Broncos will have a tough time figuring out how to slow him down. Boise State might want to live-and-die by the 3-point shot, but it will catch up to them.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 68, Boise State 61
01/16 10:35:09 ET
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