San Diego (7-1) at New Mexico (4-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 3:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pit/Bob King Court (15,411) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: ROOT-RM. Home Record: USD 3-0, UNM 2-0. Away Record: USD 2-0, UNM 0-0. Neutral Record: USD 2-1, UNM 2-1. Conference Record: USD 0-0, UNM 0-0. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: The San Diego Toreros shoot for their eighth win of the season this afternoon as they tangle with the New Mexico Lobos in non-conference action at The Pit.
Losing only once in their first eight outings, the Toreros are off to their best start since the 2000-01 campaign, their strongest opening to a campaign since joining the Division I ranks in 1979-80. The team's most recent win, the second in a row since losing to Illinois-Chicago (74-70) on Nov. 25, was a narrow 59-56 final versus Southern Illinois on Wednesday as part of the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Meanwhile, the Lobos were nationally-ranked entering the 2013-14 season, but a loss to UMass (81-65) eight days ago put an end to that lofty status. The team, now directed by first-year head coach Craig Neal, bounced back with a 78-59 win over Davidson two days later in the third-place game of the Charleston Classic.
The Lobos lead the all-time series by a 6-2 margin, taking four straight meetings however, USD does have a win in The Pit, a 64-53 triumph back in 1988.
The Toreros shot a dismal 29.2 percent from the field, including 5-of-20 from behind the 3-point line in the meeting with Southern Illinois, but the team still landed in the win column thanks to a 26-of-32 showing at the free-throw line, compared to 11-of-16 for the Salukis. Johnny Dee, who knocked down a miserable 2-of-13 from the floor, 2-of-11 beyond the arc, finished with 17 points and Christopher Anderson produced 16 points as the duo combined to make 20-of-22 at the charity stripe.
Dee, who has converted 87.2 percent at the line in eight starts, accounts for 16.8 ppg, although he is now shooting just 37.7 percent from the floor. Duda Sanadze pitches in with 12.3 ppg, but he too is struggling from the field (.390) primarily because he has converted just 29.4 percent of his 34 chances no the perimeter. Anderson, responsible for 46 of his team's 84 assists, checks in with 12.3 ppg and Dennis Kramer (6.6 rpg) another 10.6 ppg.
Showing no mercy versus Davidson, the Lobos held the Wildcats to just 35.6 percent shooting from the floor and 8-of-29 (.276) beyond the arc in their meeting late last week. At the offensive end of the floor, Alex Kirk responded with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Cameron Bairstow produced 18 points, seven boards and five assists. Cullen Neal and Kendall Williams added 15 and 12 points, respectively, while High Greenwood came up a point shy of his own double-double as he pulled down 10 boards.
While Williams is considered the top player not only on the team but in the Mountain West Conference, he is actually third on the unit in scoring with 18.2 ppg, but tops in assists with 34 in five games. Making even more of an impact on the interior is Kirk with his 20.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per contest, accounting for 20 blocked shots as well. Bairstow, a 58.6 percent shooter from the floor, accounts for 19.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg as the team beats opponents on the glass by more than 10 per game.
Few opponents have success in The Pit these days and even though the Toreros are off to a scorching start to the campaign, you have to assume that Kirk, Bairstow and Williams will be more than ready to defend their home floor today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 81, San Diego 74
11/30 10:37:32 ET