New Mexico vs. San Diego State: Preview, Who To Watch, Prediction

New Mexico vs. San Diego State: Preview, Who To Watch, Prediction

Mountain West Basketball

New Mexico vs. San Diego State: Preview, Who To Watch, Prediction


UNLV vs. San Diego State: Preview, Who To Watch, Prediction

The Lobos travel to Viejas fresh off their first win in conference play.

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WHO: New Mexico Lobos (8-13) Vs  San Diego State Aztecs (11-5)

When: Monday, January 31st 10;00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM PT

Where: San Diego, California


STREAM: FuboTV — Get a free trial

For a few years early last decade this was a bitter rivalry. Now due to Covid these teams haven’t played each other in over a year. This will be the first time these teams meet since 2/11/20, a game the Aztecs won at Viejas 82-59. It was a game that had the dunk of the year according to the announcers.

A lot has changed since then. New Mexico has a new coach, and only a couple players remain from that team two years ago. Fresh off their first win in conference play the Lobos are feeling good and will look to double their win streak against one of the toughest defenses in the nation.

Jamal Mashburn is New Mexico’s leading scorer, but Arizona St. transfer Jaelen House is the straw that stirs the drink. He averages 16 points and 5 assists per game, and is coming of an 18 point, 13 assist performance against San Jose St.

Jamal Mashburn is the other player to watch for the Lobos. He is a talented scorer at 18 points per game, and does so relatively efficiently as well. The Aztecs have the 4th best defense in the nation according to KenPom, so Mashburn will be relied on to use his diverse arsenal and put points on the board.

The Aztecs are coming off a Los against Utah St. where they got dominated in just about every facet of the game. They will look to show that that game was a fluke rather than a sign of things to come. The last time the Aztecs lost two games in a row was January 2021, slightly more than a year ago.

Cal transfer Matt Bradley seems to have found his rhythm. He leads the team in scoring with 16 points per game, and in conference play has bumped it up to 19 points per game. He has also increased his eFG% from 50.2% to 57.7%. He has been much more aggressive the last few games and looks poised to tear up Mountain West defenses the same way he tore up PAC-12 defenses.

The other player to watch is Trey Pulliam. Pulliam started the season well but has floundered a bit in conference play, tallying only four points and one assist per game. The Aztecs offense has struggled in part because they haven’t had both Bradley and Pulliam playing well at the same time.

The Aztecs are 13 point favorites in this game.

Keys for New Mexico- A running theme in most of the Aztecs losses has been uncharacteristic three point shooting from their opponents. Teams like Michigan and Utah St. found ways to get shooters open, often in transition, and hit shots. Between Mashburn, Saquan Singleton, and Javontae Johnson, the Lobos have some shooters who can bury the Aztecs early if they get hot.

The other theme has been size. Michigan, USC, and Boise St. all disrupted the Aztecs with size, length, and athleticism. The Lobos aren’t as big as those other teams, but they have been starting both Sebastian Forsling and Jay Allen-Tovar lately, with Javontae Johnson at the wing. That combination would give at least the starters a size advantage. Starting each half well with that lineup will be important.

Keys for San Diego State – The first key for the Aztecs is getting the defense back in order. They did not look like their usual dominant selves as they gave up 75 points to Utah St. they’ve had a few days to get right and should come out full of energy in front of their home crowd.

The other key for the Aztecs is aggression. Players like Matt Bradley and Trey Pulliam tend to play better when they are aggressive. The defense plays better when it is aggressive, getting into guys and forcing turnovers.

Predictions – New Mexico is a pesky team who is better than their record indicates. They have played the top teams in the conference close this season. They’ve lost four of their conference games by six points or less. The Aztecs are a better team on paper, and don’t tend to lose two games in a row very often. They should be focused, but if they get caught looking ahead to their matchup with Colorado St, they will find themselves on the wrong side of this one.

Prediction – 67-57 Aztecs


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