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Howling With The Lobos: San Jose State Preview

Lobos look to right ship

Air Force v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

What: New Mexico Lobos vs. San Jose State Spartans

When: Tuesday January 21st, 2020 at 8 p.m. Mountain

Where: DreamStyle Arena a.k.a. The Pit in Albuquerque, NM

Coverage: AT&T SportsNet will carry the television side. The UNM Sports Radio Network will have the radio call (770 AM/96.3 FM in Albuquerque).

Series: The Lobos are 14-3 against San Jose State, but the Spartans won last time out on New Year’s Day with an 88-85 victory.

Breakdown:

The New Mexico Lobos will put their 14-game home winning streak on the line when they host the San Jose State Spartans on Tuesday night in a rematch of a New Year’s Day contest that went down to the wire in San Jose.

The Lobos are 15-5 overall and 4-3 in the Mountain West Conference entering Tuesday’s affair. UNM has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. They were blown out by a hot shooting Colorado State team in Fort Collins, 105-72, and they followed that up with a 99-78 loss at UNLV on Saturday evening.

The Spartans sit at 6-13 overall and 2-5 in the MWC. SJSU has lost three of their last four, including their last two, after beating the Lobos back on January 1st. San Jose State’s only win during their last four games was a 70-68 win at home over Nevada.

While New Mexico has yet to lose at home dating back to last season, the Spartans have won only once on the road all season and that was their season opening win at Hofstra. Since then the Spartans have lost six straight road games.

Looking for a lift:

With Vance Jackson sitting out against UNLV and most of the Colorado State game previously, the Lobos did not have any depth whatsoever. In fact, all five starters played over 30 minutes against UNLV, and it showed down the stretch. The Lobos were tired and couldn’t defend. This left easy shots for UNLV and the Rebels took full advantage.

The Lobos might very well be without Jackson again on Tuesday, he is currently doubtful with his knee injury. The Lobos will be looking for someone to play plenty of minutes off the bench. Emmanuel Kuac played 12 minutes off the bench against UNLV, but there’s no guarantee that he will see the same amount tonight, or more.

Whoever comes off the bench for UNM needs to play solid minutes and not fall too far behind. There is a lot of inexperience on the bench so it will be trial by fire if coach Weir decides to go to it during the game.

Players to Watch on San Jose State:

Given the fact that the previous contest between the two was just 20 days ago, many Lobo fans should remember the name Richard Washington. The San Jose State guard came off the bench and scored 25 in the previous matchup. His seven three-pointers were the biggest difference in the game and expect he and the other Spartans to start firing it up from long distance.

Brae Ivey will be another player to keep an eye on from the Spartans. He scored 13 against the Lobos last time out, and since has gone for games of 19, 17, 13 and nine points. Ivey likes to drive to the basket, as well as shoot threes, but his driving game might take off with UNM’s lack of height in the front court.

X-Factor for the Lobos:

Right now, the emotional leader of this team is JaQuan Lyle. He played the most minutes against UNLV with 39 and was definitely out of gas late. His big play capability will come in handy early against the Spartans. If the Lobos can get out to a big lead early, they should have enough to sustain it. That will all hinge on how Lyle plays early. If the game stays close, it will be critical for Lyle to get a little rest, but he must dig down deep to be able to carry UNM right now with Jackson out.

Prediction:

A couple of weeks ago I would’ve thought this was going to be a walk in the park kind of game. Given the events that have happened with the Lobos over the last month, nothing is a given anymore. The Spartans showed in San Jose that they can hang with a Lobo team that included Vance Jackson. Now with Jackson out, San Jose State should be able to keep this one close. I have a feeling though that the Lobos will make enough plays to this one done, but it will be close. I got the Lobos-77 San Jose State-72.