Wyoming (14-7) at New Mexico (17-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 5, 11:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pit/Bob King Court (15,411) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Wyoming 11-2, UNM 8-2. Away Record: Wyoming 2-4, UNM 6-1. Neutral Record: Wyoming 1-0, UNM 3-1. Conference Record: Wyoming 5-3, UNM 8-1. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 65-64.
GAME NOTES: Riding high on a five-game win streak, the Lobos of New Mexico try to continue their strong play tonight as they host the Wyoming Cowboys for a Mountain West Conference battle in The Pit.
Since losing to UNLV at home back on Jan. 15, the Lobos have been on the right course and are now an impressive 8-1 in league play, trailing only nationally- ranked San Diego State which has yet to drop a MWC bout. Over the weekend, UNM completely dominated a woeful San Jose State group at home in a 72-47 final.
Over on the other side, the Cowboys have also been moving in the right direction with five wins in six tries, although that one setback was to a Fresno State squad that had no business landing in the win column. Last Saturday, the Pokes hosted Utah State at Arena Auditorium and dominated the once-mighty Aggies in a 74-57 final to move to 5-3 in conference play.
The Lobos currently lead the all-time series by a scant 65-64 margin, thanks to a seven-game win streak versus Wyoming. The most recent matchup took place last month in Laramie, as the Pokes allowed the visitors to escape with a 72-69 win in overtime.
The defense for the Cowboys was again the story in the win over Utah State as the squad moved to 8-0 on the season when holding an opponent to under 60 points. Wyoming made it happen by limiting the visitors to just 13 opportunities at the free-throw line and 40.4 percent shooting from the floor overall. At the offensive end, Josh Adams controlled the action with 19 points and eight assists, followed by Riley Grabau with 15 points, Larry Nance Jr. 13 and Derek Cooke Jr. 11 points and eight boards.
Although the Cowboys have him listed as being in the starting lineup for this meeting, it should be noted that Adams has been suspended for striking an opponent, in violation of MW Sportsmanship Rules, during the USU meeting. Amazingly, this will be the first game of the season where the lineup has changed at all, but you can be sure that Nance will be picking up some of the slack as he tries to improve upon his 16.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Grabau, a top-notch perimeter sniper with 47.6 percent accuracy beyond the arc, accounts for another 11.0 ppg.
As if there was any question about the outcome, New Mexico scored the first points of the game against the Spartans and never looked back, leading by as many as 29 late in the second half. With the game well in hand, the Lobos spread the wealth and pulled the starters, which is why Cameron Bairstow finished with just 14 points and seven rebounds, Alex Kirk 13 points and Kendall Williams 11 and five assists for the hosts in the onslaught.
Bairstow leads the offensive attack for the Lobos with his 20.0 ppg, shooting 56.1 percent from the floor and 74.6 percent at the free-throw line. As a team, UNM is hitting shots at the charity stripe at a 72.7 percent clip, trailing opponents who have combined to make 76.8 percent, but the Lobos have actually scored 104 more points at the stripe through 21 games and that has contributed heavily to their 7.2 ppg advantage. Williams and Kirk check in with 17.6 and 13.9 ppg, respectively.
With Adams (12.1 ppg) unavailable for this meeting, it really could not have come at a worse time for the Cowboys because they need all the help then can get just to keep up with New Mexico on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 71, Wyoming 61
02/05 10:34:43 ET