What: New Mexico Lobos vs. Montana Grizzlies
When: Sunday December 1st, 2019 at 1 p.m. Mountain
Where: DreamStyle Arena a.k.a. The Pit in Albuquerque
Coverage: AT&T Sports Net will have the TV coverage, while the UNM Sports Radio Network will cover the radio side (770 AM/94.5 FM KKOB in Albuquerque, or TuneIn App search KKOB).
Series: Montana holds the series lead at 16-8. New Mexico won the last outing between the two schools in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, a 62-57 win in the first round that year.
The New Mexico Lobos return to the court on Sunday afternoon looking to get to 7-2 on the season when they take on the Montana Grizzlies out of the Big Sky Conference. The Grizzlies sit at 3-4 on the young season, with wins over Coppin State, Texas Southern and Montana State-Northern. Their four losses were to Stanford, Washington, Arkansas and Montana Tech.
The Lobos meanwhile are coming off an impressive win over Wisconsin, 59-50, on Tuesday evening. That win came on the heels of a blowout loss to Auburn by a final of 82-59. The win over Wisconsin also gave the Lobos third place at the Legends Classic. With their latest win, the Lobos are now 2-2 on the season in road/neutral games. Let’s hit some of the keys to this contest.
Martin looks to keep momentum going:
New Mexico guard Zane Martin started the season red hot with scoring nine or more points in each of UNM’s first five games. He fizzled out against New Mexico State and Auburn, scoring four points and going scoreless in each game respectively. Martin bounced back in a big way against Wisconsin, coming off the bench to score 12 points in 23 minutes. With the slow start Vance Jackson has got off to this season it is imperative that someone else pick up the slack, and, so far, that appears to be Martin. He’ll look to carry the momentum from Tuesday’s contest into this one.
Playing slow is the way:
It is very well known that the Lobos want to play fast. That is Paul Weir’s philosophy. For the most part this season it had worked, to a degree anyway. The Lobos were the worst in the Mountain West Conference with an average of 16.7 turnovers a game entering the Auburn game. New Mexico turned it over 24 times against Auburn, and that led to the 82-59 blowout victory for the Tigers. New Mexico decided to slow things down a bit against Wisconsin, and it worked well.
With the Badgers struggling to make buckets, the Lobos gave them less possessions by slowing the game down. They also cleaned up a lot of their own mistakes; turning the ball over just 14 times. Still a bit high, but much more manageable than the 24 the previous night.
Expect the Lobos, though, to try to return to going fast in this contest. With conference play opening up on Wednesday night they need to work out as many kinks as they can in this game.
How does Montana stack up:
The Grizzlies have two players averaging in double figures in points. Lobo fans will get used to hearing the name Sayeed Pridgett, who averages 17.9 points per game, and is coming off of a 19-point, 12-rebound, game against Coppin State on Friday night.
The Grizzlies also have Kendal Manuel who is averaging 13.3 points per game. Manuel had 11 points in the win on Friday night against Coppin State.
Another player who will be somewhat of a threat to score for Montana is Timmy Falls. The 6-foot-2 guard has scored in double figures in three of Montana’s last four contests, including 14 in their game on Friday night.
Lobo fans might get a little frustrated in this game because UNM will be looking to go fast again and that will more than likely lead to a lot of turnovers. The Lobos have been able to overcome this issue many times this season and this one will likely be another. The Lobos are favored by ten points at the time of this writing, which may be about right. Expect a close game throughout with UNM pulling away late. I got the Lobos-85 Montana-75.