#22 SDSU vs. New Mexico: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
A fierce rivalry; an arena full of mega fans, and lights out basketball. Things are going to get very REAL at The Pit on Saturday night.
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The Aztecs seek payback after this season’s sole Viejas Arena home loss, but the Lobos are dangerously desperate right now.
WHEN: Sat., Feb. 25th – 7:00 pm PST / 8:00 pm MST / 10:00 pm EST
WHERE: University Arena aka “The Pit”- Albuquerque, NM (Cap. 15,411)
STREAM: FuboTV — get a free trial
RADIO: San Diego Sports 760 / SiriusXM App ch. 968 / 96.3 KKOB
SERIES RECORD: San Diego State and New Mexico meet for the 93rd time Saturday evening. The Aztecs are 43-49 versus the Lobos.
LAST MEETING: The Lobos defeated the Aztecs 76-67 in a rare home loss at Viejas Arena in San Diego, CA, on Saturday, January 14th.
WEBSITES: GoAztecs.com, the official San Diego State athletics website; GoLobos.com, the official University of New Mexico athletics website.
ODDS: SDSU -2.5
Albuquerque, NM – For the first time in three seasons the No. 22 SDSU Aztecs (22-5, 13-2 MW) visit the New Mexico Lobos (20-8, 7-8 MW). It is the second of a two-game conference series. Coach Richard Pitino’s Lobos stunningly dealt the Aztecs, their only home loss (76-67) at Viejas Arena.
The Aztecs, meanwhile, expect to give Lobos a taste of their own medicine with a home loss in kind. Packed with rabid fans with their signature New Mexico hospitality, The Pit is known as one of NCAA basketball’s most raucous venues- and that gives the Lobos a big edge.
Tip-off at the Pit is set for 7:00 p.m. PST, and the Aztecs open as 2.5-point favorites, as they pursue a sixth straight victory.
Who will win? Let’s take a closer look.
Why The Lobos Will Win
The Lobos are seated squarely on the bubble entering into March. For Pitino’s squad, they will consider this an absolute must win.
New Mexico appears to have tanked, losing six of their past eight games, but the team didn’t have Jaelen House for a pair of those losses (no offense to the rest of the Lobos).
Two of the other four losses with House came against Nevada by a total four points, including a three-point loss in 2OT. The remaining two came on the road against Boise State and Utah State.
Things aren’t as dire as they appear in Albuquerque. Despite the loss at Boise State on Wednesday, 82-77- the fifth loss in the last six games- the Lobos are 14-3 at home. In the Boise State loss Morris Udeze led the Lobos with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
New Mexico is very talented offensively. They’re 17th in the country at 81.0 points per game and are 16th in field-goal percent (48.5%). They haven’t been able to match that in conference, averaging 78.1 points per game but are making 47.7% of their shots. The Lobos are 49th in KenPom. They are averaging 115.2 points per 100 possessions (24th) and are allowing 100.7 points per 100 possessions (88).
The Lobos proved they can beat the Aztecs where the Aztecs hold court, so they can certainly register a win in The Pit.
Why The Aztecs Will Win
The Aztecs sheared the Colorado State Rams on Tuesday, 77-58. It was their fifth straight win and their 15th in their last 17 games. That moved San Diego State to 13-2 in the conference, holding a 1.0 game advantage over Boise State. SDSU is now 7-1 on the road this season.
Against the Rams, the Aztecs played two complete halves, jumping out to a 15-point halftime lead before going on to a 19-point victory, as the rookies closed out the last several minutes. The Aztecs shot 48.1% from the field in the game, and were 19-23 from the free-throw line, making 12 more free-throw attempts than the Rams. Five different players scored in double digits for San Diego State, led by Matt Bradley who had 13 points.
SDSU is already a lock in the big dance. The Aztecs rank 16th in KenPom. They are averaging 113.0 points per 100 possessions (46) and are 16th in points allowed per 100 possessions (93.4). As usual, defense gives them an edge, as they are allowing 64.6 points per game (47th) 42.3% shooting (92nd). In conference, opponents are averaging 64.0 points and 42.6% shooting against the Aztec.
The Aztecs will be formidable in March, but they’ve grinded out wins on the road. They’ve won four of their past five road games, but one was in overtime at Colorado State. Two others came by just two points at Fresno State and Utah State. They’re regrettably overdue to have the odds go against them in a down-to-the-wire situation.
Whatever adversity the Aztecs face, they keep finding ways to win, but this match will be a vicious dog fight.
What Will Happen
The Aztecs enter this match as a slight favorite. The Pit erases this advantage. The Lobos, who have dropped five of their last six games, have lost two straight games at home.
What’s troublesome is that the Lobos are frighteningly desperate. A marquee win against a ranked team can unlock a NCAA Tournament bid. A loss on the other hand, is certified doom for the Lobos.
The Aztecs are the better team of late, but New Mexico knows they’re not invincible. With a strong defensive effort they held San Diego State to 42.0% shooting while they hit 47.0% of their own shots, including going 16-22 from the free-throw line. They’ll employ the same game plan they used on January 14th to register an upset.
House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. can use quickness to exploit SDSU’s drop coverage against ball screens, and the Aztecs better be prepared this time.
The Pit will be totally NUTS. The crowd will rattle the referees, just like we witnessed in Logan.
Anything can happen in this game, so buckle your seatbelts.
Final Score: SDSU 78, New Mexico 77