Utah State (14-1) at New Mexico State (10-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 17, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pan American Center (12,482) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: AggieVision. Home Record: USU 10-1, NMSU 7-1. Away Record: USU 4-0, NMSU 3-6. Neutral Record: USU 0-0, NMSU 0-1. Conference Record: USU 5-0, NMSU 4-2. Series Record: Utah State leads, 35-29.
GAME NOTES: Owners of one of the longest winning streak in the nation, the Utah State Aggies shoot for their 14th consecutive victory on Thursday night as they go up against the New Mexico State Aggies in Western Athletic Conference action at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.
Trailing only fourth-ranked Kansas which has a run of 14 straight wins, the USU Aggies haven't lost since the second game of the campaign against Saint Mary's-CA, 67-58. The team is off to a 5-0 start in WAC action, thanks in part to a 66-60 win over San Jose State last Friday night at home.
Even though this outing for USU is on the road, the good news for the squad is that it has yet to be defeated anywhere other than the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan.
As for New Mexico State, it finally appears to be on a roll, heading in the right direction with four straight wins, after losing four of the previous five decisions. On Saturday the program played yet another close contest against Idaho on the road, slipping by the Vandals in a 71-70 final after defeating Seattle two nights earlier in double-overtime, 83-82, in the Pacific Northwest.
In a relationship that dates back more than 50 years, USU holds a 35-29 edge over New Mexico State heading into this meeting. However, NMSU won both contests last season -- an 80-60 victory in Las Cruces, and an 80-69 final in Logan.
Except for Marcel Davis who scored just two points, every starter for the USU Aggies hit for double figures in the win over SJSU, with Preston Medlin leading the way with 25 points as he converted a perfect 11-of-11 at the free- throw line. Spencer Butterfield delivered 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor, while Jarred Shaw recorded a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Also filling his stat line was Kyisean Reed with 10 points, eight boards and four blocked shots. Over the course of five conference games, Medlin has been the scoring leader for USU with 22.0 ppg, shooting an impressive 40.5 percent beyond the arc as the group outscores the competition by 10 ppg. An active team that invites contact, against league foes these Aggies have outscored the opposition by an 83-39 margin at the free-throw line.
It wasn't pretty, but New Mexico State did just enough in order to get into the win column for the second time in as many days by just a single point. The Aggies led by as many as 17 points late in the first half yet nearly let it all slip away as Idaho made good on 52.1 percent from the floor and 14-of-15 at the free-throw line on the night. Sim Bhullar and K.C. Ross-Miller both tallied 16 points for the visitors, followed by Bandja Sy with 14 points and seven boards. Turning the ball over just four times is probably what saved NMSU from landing in the loss column. In WAC games, NMSU has been getting by with some very close calls and now on the average the team is defeating the competition by just 0.5 ppg, which leaves very little room for error. Sy is second on the team in scoring with 14.5 ppg and first on the glass (7.5 rpg), and hopefully his success on the interior will convince him to stop firing up 3-point attempts (4-of-15).
New Mexico State is cutting it far too close these days to hope to make it into the win column on a consistent basis. Certainly the stats say that the visiting Aggies have more of what it takes to get the job done this season, not to mention some motivation from being swept in 2011-12.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 77, New Mexico State 68
01/17 10:33:25 ET