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Howling With The Lobos: New Mexico State Preview

Rio Grande Rivalry Time

McNeese v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

What: New Mexico Lobos vs New Mexico State Aggies

When: Thursday November 21st, 2019 at 7 p.m. Mountain

Where: Pan American Center in Las Cruces, NM

Coverage: The game will be on Fox Sports Arizona’s plus channel, on the Fox Sports App as well presented by AggieVision. The UNM Sports Radio Network will handle the radio call. (TuneIn App KKOB, or 770 AM/94.5 FM KKOB in Albuquerque)

Series: The Lobos hold a 121-97 advantage in the series to date. However, the Aggies have won five straight dating back to November of 2016 when the Lobos took a 72-59 decision in Albuquerque. Even harder to believe is the fact that the Lobos haven’t won in Las Cruces in over four years. The last time an 83-74 win back in 2015.

Breakdown:

Game two of a crucial road trip that pits the Lobos against two of its longest rivals occurs on Thursday night. The Lobos dropped game one of the road trip on Tuesday losing to UTEP 66-63. In that game the Lobos shot 38.8% from the field, went 20 of 31 at the free throw line and committed 18 turnovers. In a sense the Lobos practically gave the game away.

Things are going to be similar this contest, even though the Aggies come into the tilt with a 2-2 record. New Mexico has now dropped their last nine road games and have lost three-straight in Las Cruces. New Mexico State is 2-0 at home this season, with wins over Western New Mexico to start the season, and a win over Southern last Thursday. The Aggies also lost in El Paso to UTEP, that one coming on the 12th of this month, and they also dropped an 83-53 decision to #17 Arizona this past Sunday. Nonetheless you can throw out the records when these two schools get together as they play some of the toughest basketball they will play all year when they get together.

Where’s the shooting:

As mentioned above the Lobos struggled to score against UTEP. The 19-of-49 shooting was the worst of the season for UNM. They also went 20-of-31 at the free throw line, again worst percentage on the season for a team that entered the game near the top 10 in the country, out of 353 teams, in free throw percentage. The Lobos definitely cannot have a repeat performance from a shooting perspective if they intend to come away with the victory tonight.

Where is Vance Jackson this season:

New Mexico fans have to be asking themselves this very question five games into the season. Yes, the scoring has been spread around to various players, but more often than not Jackson is not one of those players that is contributing much on the offensive end. Coming off a season in which Jackson averaged 13 points per game gave Lobo fans a lot of anticipation of what the UConn transfer would do this season, especially since he finished the season with five consecutive games in double figures in points. However, Jackson has scored in double figures just once this season, an 11-point showing against McNeese State, and is averaging only 6.2 points per game this season. To compound the frustrations from Tuesday night, Jackson scored just four points against UTEP.

Jackson needs to find his offensive prowess that he had at the end of last season, especially if the Lobos want to not only win tonight, but challenge for the Legends Classic championship which begins next Monday.

What kind of threat do the Aggies offer:

The Aggies might have a 2-2 record, but this is still a dangerous team, one that will more than likely win the WAC championship again this season. Their top player is Trevelin Queen, who is averaging 16.8 points per game this season. Queen was named to the All-WAC team last season and was the WAC tournament MVP. For Lobo fans, this will be the first opportunity to see Queen go up against UNM as he missed both games last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

The Aggies still have Ivan Aurrecoechea who dropped 23 on the Lobos last year in Las Cruces. New Mexico is going to get the benefit of not having to face AJ Harris this game as he still recovers from a broken finger. Harris destroyed the Lobos in Albuquerque last season, posting 31 points including six three pointers.

Prediction:

The Lobos are struggling on the road of late, and it won’t get any easier in this contest as the Pan Am Center should be rocking. UNM does get lucky with Harris being out, but Queen should provide an adequate replacement. The key will be to make the shots, both from the field and free throw line, that they were missing against UTEP. If the Lobos can do that, and slow down Queen, then they should win this game. I got the Lobos-71 New Mexico State-65.