New Mexico vs. Utah State: Series Preview, How To Watch, Odds, More
Utah State is the clear favorite in this one.
A series split would be a step forward for the Lobos and a step (or two) back for the Aggies.
Who: New Mexico Lobos (3-4, 0-4 Mountain West) vs. Utah State Aggies (7-3, 4-0 Mountain West)
When: Wednesday, January 6 – 8:00 PM MST / 9:00 PM CST
Friday, January 8 – 7:00 PM MST / 8:00 PM CST
Where: Rip Griffin Center – Lubbock, TX
TV: Wednesday – CBS Sports Network & Friday – FS1
Game 1 Odds via BetMGM: Utah State -12.5
The New Mexico Lobos (3-4, 0-4 Mountain West) host the Utah State Aggies (7-3, 4-0 Mountain West) as conference play continues at the Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, Texas on Wednesday at 8:00 P.M MST.
Since losing three of their first four, the Utah State Aggies have rolled through the easy front-end slate of conference play, winning by an average margin of 33 points.
Sure their first games were against two of the teams with perhaps the most room for improvement in the conference (San Jose State and Air Force), but the series between the Aggies and the New Mexico Lobos isn’t expected to be much different. The Lobos are, after all, another one of those teams that has a lot of room for growth.
New Mexico has lost four straight games after starting 3-0. Only one of the first three games was against a division I program, the 8-2 Rice University Owls which has played one of the softest schedules in the country. Still, the team has shown game-by-game improvement after an arduous start against one of the conference’s best in Boise State followed by a decent Nevada team that, while 8-3, has some growing to do itself.
There may be some reasons for concern for Utah State with the recent history between these two teams playing close contests but New Mexico, albeit a talented raw and improving team, will have a their hands full trying to match the firepower and experience of a well-coached Utah State.
The Aggies are a solid offensive team (93rd in offensive efficiency per KenPom.com) and maintain a strong defensive presence (47th in defensive efficiency), which should be more than enough to stifle a Lobo offense that, in spite of its toil, is struggling amid the persisting and lamentable team relocation to Lubbock, Texas.
The young frontcourt for the Lobos will have to solve the nightmare matchup of Neemias Queta, who has been a monster all the way around, leading the Aggies in rebounds (8.7 per game), assists (3.6 per game) and blocks (2.6 per game) while contributing to scoring and defense (11.8 points, 1.2 steals per game). With just 1.5 turnovers per game, Queta claims an assist to turnover ratio that most guards would be proud of at 2.4 assists for every turnover. That makes him one of only four players that are 6-7 or taller to be in the NCAA’s top 100 players ranked by assist to turnover ratio and the only seven-footer to earn a spot on the list.
“[Queta] is a weapon scoring, but he’s such a lethal passer that it just depends on how they’re playing him,” said Craig Smith during Monday night’s Aggie Coaches show.
It’s quite the ask for redshirt freshman Bayron Matos and Valdir Manuel, who will likely be sharing minutes to hold the paint against the dominant Queta, but their play and whether or not New Mexico will give up double digit scoring possessions due to the full-game-full-court press (think layups, dunks or wide open threes in transition) will play a key role in the final margin in this one, which is comfortably in favor of Utah State.
For New Mexico, a split would be considered a massive success, and may give the team the confidence boost they need to quell the sting of a four game winless stretch. A split for Utah State would be a step back, and could be the loss that puts them a step too far behind fellow conference leaders Boise State and San Diego State in the long run with bigger challenges ahead.