New Mexico vs. San Jose State Series Preview

New Mexico vs. San Jose State Series Preview

Mountain West Basketball

New Mexico vs. San Jose State Series Preview

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New Mexico vs. San Jose State Series Preview


San Jose State Spartans (2-10, 0-8) New Mexico Lobos (4-10, 0-8)


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Two winless teams, trying to notch first conf win

THE SERIES: New Mexico Lobos host the San Jose State Spartans

GAME ONE TV: NONE

GAME ONE STREAM:

GAME ONE TIP: Thursday, 12 p.m. PST

GAMW TWO TV: NONE

GAME TWO STREAM:

GAME TWO TIP: Saturday, 12 p.m. PST

ODDS: New Mexico favored by three on KenPom

The only winless teams in conference play go battle and try to get that ever-elusive conference victory finally.

The Spartans not only haven’t won a conference game but haven’t won a single game against a D1 team. Jean Prioleau‘s squad has also lost every conference game by 15 or more except in the 87-86 loss to Boise. So, what went different in the Boise game?

The Spartans shot 50% from-the-field, and 51% from three, and most notably, there was production from players not named Richard Washington. There have been several games this season where Washington scored half of the teams’ points; in the Boise game, Washington had 26 points, but Jalen Dalcourt had 23. That’s the only game where SJSU had a player not named Richard Washington scored over 20 points in a game this season. Having other players helping out IS needed. Jalen Dalcourt is a tremendous shooter that needs more looks; he can consistently be that player.

One of the few positives about San Jose State’s offense is the lack of turnovers, for a team that struggles the way they do; they handle the ball well enough.

Defense is undoubtedly SJSU’s most resounding issue, ranking 337th in KenPom in defensive efficiency. Opposing teams are shooting an obscene 56% from inside-the-arc. It’s hard to win many games allowing teams to make over half their shots inside, there NEEDS to be some defensive improvements in this series, or the offense needs to be nearly flawless. 

Unlike UNM, SJSU plays a rapid pace despite it usually not resulting in a ton of points. That’s something that could weigh in favor of San Jose State.

Looking at the bigger issues with San Jose State’s post defense is Ralph Agee and Nate Lacewell‘s struggles. The two players garnering the most minutes at the four and five combine for a -10.1 defensive box-plus-minus (dBPM), according to sportsrefrence.com. With their struggles, I think we could see more of the 7-footer, Hugo Clarkin, who leads the team with a -0.6 dBPM. At least, Clarkin is a big dude that can be a solid rim-protector against Valdir Manuel, the Lobos starting big man. 

This is a historically bad season for the Lobos. A team in a financial strain, coming off a season with talent, but Jaquon Lyle, Carlton Bragg, and J.J. Caldwell were all suspended on numerous occasions. Makuach Maluach is the lone player returning that played a role last season, with a squad mostly filled with newcomers. 

The Lobos are the worst offensive team in the Mountain West, ranking 298th in offensive efficiency in KenPom, have an effective field-goal percentage of 39.4%, ranking 344th in the country. Then, you have a three-point percentage of an astounding 25%, followed up with a free-throw percentage of 62.7%, and the cherry-on-top, the Lobos, turn the ball over far too much.

The Lobos are “hosting” the series in St George, Utah playing in Dixie State’s home arena.

Now, onto the actual team, Makuach Maluach is the leading scorer with 13.2 PPG, with a solid 43% from-the-field. Maluach will need to have big performances in this series against SJSU.

The best place to look for offense and attack SJSU’s weakness is with Valdir Manuel and Bayron Matos, both big, strong forwards, the main thing San Jose State struggles with. If Dr. Weir can get those two large individuals involved, that could be the Lobos turning point.

Jeremiah Francis was a player seen as a difference-maker coming in from North Carolina, but that hasn’t come to fruition yet. Francis is struggling mightily this season, but if he turns it around, that would be beneficial for the Lobos. Francis is shooting 22% from the field and 13% from three. The Lobos have to get consistent point guard play to win games, and the most likely source of that is from Francis.

UNM in this series especially needs to limit the turnovers, SJSU plays fast, and they rarely force turnovers. You can’t let it happen in this series if you’re in New Mexico

Keys to the series:

UNM has to feed their bigs, attack the biggest weakness for San Jose State, and let it go until they stop it.

SJSU needs production from other players than Richard Washington. Odds are, SJSU won’t magically become a serviceable defense, so they need to score a lot of points.

KEY PLAYERS:

SJSU: Jalen Dalcourt

New Mexico: Bayron Matos

Game one prediction:

SJSU: 77

UNM: 69

Game two prediction:

SJSU: 63

UNM: 59


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