Utah State faces NM in MWC quarters
New Mexico (19-13, 8-11) vs. No. 2 seed Utah State (23-8, 12-6)
Mountain West Conference Tournament Quarterfinals, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas; Thursday, 9 p.m. EST
BOTTOM LINE: New Mexico is set to take on Utah State in the quarterfinals of the MWC tournament. The only regular season meeting came on Feb. 29, when the Lobos shot 44.8 percent from the field and went 10 for 24 from 3-point territory en route to a two-point victory.
SAVVY VETERANS: Senior leadership has been on display for both of these teams. Sam Merrill, Justin Bean and Diogo Brito have collectively accounted for 50 percent of Utah State’s scoring this season and 57 percent of the team’s points over its last five games. For New Mexico, JaQuan Lyle, Corey Manigault, Vance Jackson, Zane Martin and Makuach Maluach have collectively accounted for 71 percent of all New Mexico scoring.
FACILITATING THE OFFENSE: Merrill has directly created 43 percent of all Utah State field goals over the last five games. Merrill has 40 field goals and 22 assists in those games.
UNBEATEN WHEN: Utah State is a perfect 20-0 when its defense holds opponents to a field goal percentage of 42.9 percent or less. The Aggies are 3-8 when they allow opponents to shoot any better than that.
ASSIST DISTRIBUTION: The Aggies have recently used assists to create baskets more often than the Lobos. Utah State has 57 assists on 88 field goals (64.8 percent) over its past three matchups while New Mexico has assists on 48 of 75 field goals (64 percent) during its past three games.
DETERMINED DEFENSE: The stout Utah State defense has held opposing offenses to a field goal percentage of 39.3 percent, the 22nd-lowest mark in Division I. New Mexico has allowed opponents to shoot 44.8 percent through 32 games (ranking the Lobos 272nd).