What: New Mexico Lobos vs. San Jose State Spartans
When: Wednesday January 1st, 2020 at 8 p.m. Mountain
Where: Provident Credit Union Event Center in San Jose, CA
Coverage: Mountain West Network (themw.com/watch) will have streaming coverage. UNM Sports Radio Network (770 AM/94.5 FM in Albuquerque, or TuneIn App search KKOB) will have the radio call.
Series: This is the 17th time the Lobos and Spartans will meet on the hardwood. The Lobos own a 14-2 advantage in the series. Last time these two met up it was SJSU getting an 89-82 victory last February in San Jose.
The New Mexico Lobos take the show on the road as they will visit the San Jose State Spartans Wednesday night in hopes of their ninth straight victory. The Spartans come into the contest with a 4-10 record overall, and they are 0-2 in the Mountain West Conference with losses to San Diego State and Utah State. Last game out SJSU beat Pepperdine 83-68.
The Lobos sit at 13-2 overall and are 2-0 in the MWC with wins over Boise State and Wyoming. Last game out the Lobos beat UC-Davis 74-69. New Mexico will once again be without starters JJ Caldwell and Carlton Bragg Jr., both of whom continue to be suspended from the team.
Critical game for UNM:
It is hard to believe that the third game of Mountain West play is a critical one for the Lobos, but like it, or not, this one is huge in regards to the conference championship hopes. The Lobos need to win the games that they should win in order to keep competing for the MWC title. Last season the Lobos really cost themselves as far as conference tournament seeding went with late season losses to Wyoming and this very San Jose State team. The Lobos can ill-afford another loss in San Jose and expect to keep up with Utah State and San Diego State at the top of the MWC.
Players to focus on from San Jose State:
San Jose State bolsters just one player averaging in double-figures for points per game, and that is sophomore Seneca Knight. The 6-foot-6 guard is averaging 12.8 points per game and had 12 points in SJSU’s last game versus Pepperdine.
As much as the above line might give hope to Lobo fans, there are some other players that can do some damage from SJSU. Guard Brae Ivey tops the list of the names that can also do some damage. Ivey has been on a tear lately, scoring in double-figures in points in three of the Spartans last four contests. He had a game high 23 points against Pepperdine.
Freshman guard Omari Moore also poses a threat to the Lobos. The 6-foot-6 guard had 12 points against Pepperdine and likes to play close to the basket to get offensive rebounds.
The last time the Lobos played on the road, Corey Manigault had 18 points against the Wyoming Cowboys. The Lobos have need to lean on Manigault more since Bragg’s suspension, and Corey has delivered. He had 21 points in the win over Houston Baptist and followed that up with a 20-point 11 rebound performance against UC-Davis. The Spartans sport three players at 6-foot-10 or taller. The front court of the Lobos is lacking depth, but they will need to rely on Manigault for both scoring and rebounding in this one. A big game from Corey should equate to another Lobos win.
Final Thoughts and Prediction:
The Lobos needed an 8-2 run over the last two minutes to beat UC-Davis on Sunday. Anyone can tell just from that game that UNM is missing both Caldwell and Bragg’s presence on the floor. They need to keep pushing through though if they expect to challenge for a conference championship. The Spartans are struggling this season, but as indicated by their last contest, they can catch fire at any time. The Lobos will need a big game from Manigault and JaQuan Lyle in order to pull this one out. Without Bragg and Caldwell on the floor the Lobos will play some close game, expect this one to be too, but I got the Lobos pulling it out. Lobos-75 Spartans-70.