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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 6:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pit/Bob King Court (15,411) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Nevada 6-6, UNM 9-2. Away Record: Nevada 6-5, UNM 6-2. Neutral Record: Nevada 0-2, UNM 3-1. Conference Record: Nevada 7-5, UNM 9-2. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Coming off just their second Mountain West Conference setback of the season, the New Mexico Lobos try to get back on track today as they host the Nevada Wolf Pack in The Pit.
The Lobos came into this week riding a six-game win streak, but then they had to travel to Idaho to take on a pesky Boise State program that has been playing tough all season. New Mexico found out just how difficult it can be to challenge BSU on the road as it bowed in a 71-70 final at Taco Bell Arena on Wednesday night. Still, UNM is alone in second place in the MWC, trailing only San Diego State which has also lost this week.
Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack is all of a sudden heading in the wrong direction once again, losing three in row after winning seven of nine. Three nights ago the program was taken out at the Lawlor Events Center by Fresno State, 75-67, dropping the group to 7-5 in league action.
The only previous meetings on the hardwood between these teams took place last season, with the Lobos posting two wins in as many battles. This year the squads will also play twice during the regular season, with Nevada hosting the Lobos on March 2.
The Pack knocked down 52.2 percent from the field in the second half against Fresno State on Wednesday, but that was only after the hosts converted just 35.7 percent through the first 20 minutes of action. Jerry Evans and Deonte Burton both tallied 14 points as each shot 5-of-12 from the floor, while Michael Perez and Cole Huff accounted for 11 and 10 points, respectively. AJ West cleared a team-best 10 rebounds and tallied seven points, but he was also guilty of five turnovers.
Burton is clearly the offensive leader for the Pack this season, becoming one of the all-time top scorers for Nevada as he delivers 20.4 ppg, but there are some nights when his influence just isn't great enough to get the team over the hump. Evans adds another 13.4 ppg and is second on the team with 6.0 rpg, trailing only West (7.9 ppg) who is responsible for 7.8 rpg and has logged 40 blocked shots.
New Mexico led by as many as 12 points late in the first half against the Broncos the last time out, but that advantage shrunk to only seven at intermission and eventually disappeared entirely as the hosts squeezed out the thrilling victory. Kendall Williams was responsible for a game-high 22 points, Cameron Bairstow added 20 and five rebounds, followed by Alex Kirk with 13 points, but the bigger issue for the Lobos is that they picked up just two points from the reserves.
Williams may have been considered the top player in the league heading into the season, but even on his own team the attention tends to go to others. At the moment the spotlight is falling on Bairstow who was just named to the Naismith Top-30 List. The 31st player in UNM history to reach 1,000 points for his career, Bairstow is generating 20.2 ppg and 7.0 rpg at the moment, with Williams following with 17.6 ppg. Williams is shooting 42.9 percent beyond the arc and has also handed out 115 assists in 23 games, so you cannot simply overlook him and his talents.
The Lobos, historically very tough in their own building with the crowd bearing down on opponents, have already lost twice this season in The Pit, so don't expect that to happen again this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 74, Nevada 60
02/15 10:29:22 ET
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