Boise St.-New Mexico Preview
New Mexico coach Steve Alford couldn't be happier with how his team has fared outside Albuquerque this season.
The 19th-ranked Lobos are also pretty good at home.
New Mexico goes for a 12th consecutive Mountain West victory at The Pit on Saturday night when it faces Boise State for the second time this season.
Down by 11 at the break on Wednesday, the Lobos (21-4, 8-2) held Fresno State to three points in the final 10:08 and won 54-48 to remain one-half game in front of No. 24 Colorado State for the league lead. New Mexico faces the Rams in Fort Collins on Feb. 23.
"I could not be more proud of this basketball team," said Alford, whose team is 12-1 in games decided by eight points or fewer. "Our guys are 21-4 and this gives us our ninth win away from home (the Lobos are 3-0 on neutral courts). Our locker room knows how to win. There is a winning mindset in that locker room and it's not a trait that's easily found."
New Mexico, 12-1 at home, has won four times this season after falling behind by 10 or more. The Lobos trailed by as many as nine in a 79-74 overtime victory over Boise State (16-7, 4-5) on Jan. 16. Led by Tony Snell (22 points) and Hugh Greenwood (15), who scored nine of the team's 16 overtime points, the Lobos ended the Broncos' season-high seven-game winning streak and handed them their only home loss of the season.
"It was a great college basketball game," coach Leon Rice said. "We have to play an even better game to compete with them down there (in Albuquerque), no question."
Boise State played well in its first trip to The Pit on March 3, but it was outscored 25-7 in the final six-plus minutes and fell 76-61 on New Mexico's Senior Night.
"We played a great 35 minutes then that thing caved in an a hurry," Rice said.
Sophomores Derrick Marks (16.6 ppg) and Anthony Drmic (16.1) - the MWC's highest scoring duo - could help the Broncos end their four-game road skid and win two straight for the first time since last month's loss to New Mexico. Marks had 27 points on Jan. 16 while Drmic added 10.
The Lobos will also have to keep an eye on junior guard Jeff Elorriaga, who is shooting a league-best 46.1 percent from 3-point range. He hit three of the Broncos' nine 3s last month versus New Mexico.
Senior center Kenny Buckner was suspended for that contest, but he'll be able to help forward Ryan Watkins this time with New Mexico's 7-foot center Alex Kirk and forward Cameron Bairstow. The two are tied with a team-best 57 points and have 75 combined rebounds since Bairstow was reinserted into the starting lineup five games ago.
New Mexico is 3-0 in this series, which started last season when Boise State joined the conference.