Idaho (1-2) at New Mexico (4-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 10:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pit (15,411) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: Idaho 1-2, New Mexico 1-0. Away Record: Idaho 0-0, New Mexico 0-0. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, New Mexico 3-0. Conference Record: Idaho 0-0, New Mexico 0-0. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The New Mexico Lobos try to remain perfect on the young season, as they play host to the Idaho Vandals in non-conference action at The Pit.
Idaho hopes the road yields better results than its home court did in its opening three games. The Vandals kicked off the season with losses to Wright State (80-70) and Montana (66-63), before finally securing their first win by taking down Green Bay (72-62). Idaho shot the lights out versus the Phoenix, hitting 60 percent of its three-point attempts and 55.1 percent of all field goal attempts. It also held a 35-27 advantage in the rebounding battle despite Green Bay's oversized frontcourt combination of Brennan Cougill and Alec Brown.
Steve Alford's Lobos may be the best team in the highly competitive Mountain West Conference this season. New Mexico is coming off a 66-60 win over Kevin Ollie's Connecticut Huskies in the Virgin Islands, which gave the team the Paradise Jam championship trophy to take back to Albuquerque. New Mexico took down the defending Southern Conference champion Davidson Wildcats by five points in its season opener in its only other game at The Pit this season. The 4-0 Lobos are beginning to receive votes in the national polls after their tremendous start.
The Lobos have won the previous four encounters with Idaho, and this bout marks the first meeting between the two since 1994.
Senior center Kyle Barone has progressed each season since joining the Vandals. The 6-foot-10, 220-pounder began his career as a reserve, worked his way up to role player, and now is the go-to-guy in his final campaign. Barone is averaging 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game to push the squad after recording a double-double versus Green Bay's highly-skilled center Brown. Barone is not the only Vandal to step into a bigger role this season as Stephen Madison is becoming a high-frequency scorer at shooting guard. Madison is tied with Barone for the team lead in scoring and is also handing out 3.3 assists per game.
New Mexico came out cold versus Connecticut, missing its first nine shots, but managed to overcome the slow start by draining 19-of-39 afterward. The team is averaging 72 ppg on 41.2 percent shooting, which is good considering the level of its competition. The Lobos have a devastating backcourt duo in Kendall Williams and Tony Snell. The former was awarded the Paradise Jam MVP honors after producing 16.5 ppg during three games. Snell, who hit a game-winning three-pointer versus George Mason, is scoring a team-best 17.5 ppg. The swingman has versatility to play multiple positions at both ends of the floor. Alex Kirk (10.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg.) is a tough interior player for the Lobos and will give Barone some problems.
Idaho did not get the job done at home in its first three games of the season. While they may turn things around and become a competitor in the WAC, a win at The Pit is going to be next to impossible for the Vandals to attain.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 78, Idaho 63
11/23 10:37:06 ET