New Mexico St.-New Mexico Preview

While New Mexico was caught off guard during New Mexico State’s

last visit to Albuquerque, the undefeated Lobos know better than to

overlook the Aggies this time around.

Looking to go to 11-0, No. 17 New Mexico tries for a ninth

victory in 10 matchups against New Mexico State as these rivals

begin a home-and-home set Saturday in The Pit.

The Lobos have won 19 of 20 home games against unranked foes

since the start of last season, with their only loss coming 62-53

to New Mexico State on Nov. 16, 2011. New Mexico, which had

previously taken eight straight home meetings in this series by an

average of 12.8 points, had 21 turnovers in that game and shot 28.0

percent – its worst mark since March 2000.

“They are a good group and there are bragging rights on the

line,” Lobos guard Hugh Greenwood said. “We weren’t ready for it

and they hit us first. We regretted it and it hurt us throughout

the season.”

While New Mexico got some revenge with an 89-69 win at New

Mexico State last Dec. 28, it will surely be looking for more come

Saturday.

“They won in here last year and not a lot of people can do that

or have done that,” coach Steve Alford said. “It hasn’t sat well

with us that we lost a non-conference game in here.”

Though Alford’s team should have an edge playing at home – these

schools meet again Wednesday in Las Cruces – he’s wary of the

Aggies (5-4), who enter this game having won four of five following

a 58-52 victory at South Alabama on Dec. 4.

“They’re a very good team. They are big. They are athletic

again,” he said. “We’re playing pretty well. … They are playing

pretty well. It should be a great matchup. We know this is a very

difficult test, but it is one I think our guys are prepared

for.”

New Mexico allowed its fewest points this season and forced a

season-high 23 turnovers last Saturday in a 65-52 win over

Valparaiso. The Lobos, though, only held a 25-22 rebounding edge

over the Crusaders, an effort that may not cut it against New

Mexico State.

“They have a plus-9.5 rebound average,” Alford said. “That’s the

thing that really comes to the forefront with them. That’s an

incredible rebounding advantage. So, I think it starts with the

backboard.

“If we defend the way we are capable of defending, we kind of

ease the pressure of the backboard.”

Chad Adams, Alex Kirk and reserve Demetrius Walker each scored

12 points for the Lobos last weekend. Adams, who totaled six points

in his first three games, is averaging 8.7 on 53.1 percent shooting

over his last six since moving into the starting lineup.

“Chad has been tremendous. He has had a five- or six-game

stretch that has been really special,” Alford said. “He is making

shots and free throws. We are asking a lot out of him and he has

delivered for us.”

Adams and the Lobos could struggle to put points on the board

against the Aggies, who’ve limited opponents to 59.6 points per

game and 37.9 percent shooting to rank second in the Western

Athletic Conference in both categories.

New Mexico State, which is led by Daniel Mullings’ 13.9 points

per game, has lost 16 of 17 matchups against Top 25 foes, including

nine straight by an average of 12.0 points.