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Mountain West Basketball: #24 Colorado State travels to the PIT to face New Mexico

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The undefeated Rams will face the 9-4 Lobos in an early battle for first place in the Mountain West Confrence.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The next two games for the New Mexico Lobos will be a good indicator on whether this years team has what it takes to compete for a conference title. If the Lobos were to go 2-0 this week they would have a game up on two of the conference top teams.

The Lobos will face the preseason conference favorite San Diego State on Tuesday on the road but before the Lobos can look to that match up they have to defend their home court against the nationally ranked and undefeated Colorado State Rams.

The Rams are coming in to Saturdays game fresh off of a 71-65,come from behind win, over Boise State in Fort Collins. Colorado State is 14-0 on the season, which is a program record for consecutive wins and the longest active winning streak in the country.

If the Rams want to get to 15-0 they will have to win their first game in Albuquerque since 2007. Historically the Rams have problems with New Mexico; the Lobos have won the last four contests and are 27-5 against the Rams since both teams joined the Mountain West conference in 1999.

This year the Rams were expected to compete for a conference championship and its third NCAA Tournament bid in four years as they returned 6 players and 66% of its scoring from the 2013-2014 season which is a contrast to the Lobos that lost 70% of its scoring from a year ago. CSU has been led this year by senior forward J.J Avila who plays 31 minutes per game is averaging 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

The Lobos are coming off of their best shooting game of the season in which they made 80% of their 3 point attempts and 59% shooting from the field in a 76-64 win over Fresno State. The Lobos are finally getting healthy freshman Sam Logwood returned from a shoulder injury and Arthur Edwards has been practicing and was in uniform for the Fresno State game.

Junior College transfer Jordan Goodman who has missed the last game due to game discipline issues is finally healthy. Goodman who was the second ranked Junior College player last year has been a disappointment so far this year but he will have a chance to contribute at the right time, in the minutes he’s played this year he has showed flashes of the player he could be but he’s been unable to stay on the court.

Coach Neal said that the discipline was for one game only so expect Goodman to get his minutes in the rotation against the Rams. The Lobos are finally backed to full strength minus Cullen Neal who will probably red shirt this season due to an ankle injury.   New Mexico will bring the 36th ranked scoring defense in the nation in to the game; no team has been able to score over 70 points this year against the Lobos, they are giving up an average of 58.8 points per game.

New Mexico is led by two Seniors Hugh Greenwood and Deshawn Delaney who both score in double digits and play over 30 minutes per game. Greenwood who has been the Lobos backbone has been able to play both the point guard and the off guard due to the emergence of Junior Tim Jacobs. He is averaging 11.2 points per game with 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Greenwood lead the Lobos in minutes played at 35.5.

After the injury to Cullen Neal, Delaney was told by Lobos head Coach Craig Neal that he needed to be more aggressive and he has responded. Since Neal went out Delaney has yet to score less than double digits in a game and has become the Lobos leading scorer at 14.4 points per game and the Lobos leading rebounder at 6.4 rebounds per game. Look for the Lobos to also get contributions from three true freshman led by starting guard Xavier Adams, Sam Logwood and Joe Furstinger who each play about 15 minutes per game.

Tonight’s game tips off at 6 PM MST and can be seen nationally on CBS Sports Network. CBS Sports Network can be seen on Direct TV on channel  221, Dish Network 152 and Comcast 412.