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Wolf Pack Preview: Steve Alford seeks 600th career victory versus New Mexico, his former school

Nevada looks to earn its 17th straight conference home victory.

Nevada Athletics Department

Nevada (12-8, 5-3) vs. New Mexico (16-5, 5-3)

When: Saturday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. PST

Where: Lawlor Events Center

TV: CBS Sports Network

Matchup Series: New Mexico leads 7-6

Breakdown:

Nevada men’s basketball (12-8, 5-3) ends its two-game homestand Saturday versus a depleted New Mexico Lobos (16-5, 5-3) squad. The Wolf Pack have won 29 of its last 31 conference home games, including 16 straight.

Nevada head coach Steve Alford is one win away from earning his 600th career victory, looking to become the 16th active Division-I coach to accomplish the milestone. Currently in his 29th season, Alford owns a 599-306 (.662) record.

Saturday’s contest marks the first time Alford has faced New Mexico, a school he coached at for six seasons (2007-13), since leaving for UCLA in 2013.

In those six seasons with UNM, he won six Mountain West championships (four league titles, two conference tournament championships), compiling a 155-52 (.729) record and led the Lobos to a postseason tournament every season (three NCAA, three NIT). His 155 wins with New Mexico is his most with any school.

Steve Alford’s win total by school

School Win Total Year
School Win Total Year
New Mexico 155 2007-13
Iowa 152 1999-2007
UCLA 124 2013-18
Manchester 78 1991-95
Southwest Missouri State 78 1995-99
Nevada 12 2019-Present
Total 599 1991-Present

The Wolf Pack have won five out of its last six meetings versus the Lobos. They handed Nevada its first loss last season after the Pack won its first 14 games.

New Mexico has had an up-and-down roller coaster start to its 2019-20 campaign.

The Lobos had an excellent start. They began the year 15-2, scoring 80.2 points and out-scoring its opponents by 8.7 points per game — the 4th-largest scoring margin in the conference in that span.

Two New Mexico starters, Carlton Bragg and JJ Caldwell, were suspended indefinitely by the University just hours before its 107-88 win over Houston Baptist on Dec. 22. Bragg only missed three games, while Caldwell still hasn’t returned to the program and is currently suing the University.

Nine days after Bragg was reinstated, he was dismissed from the team because of DWI and possession charges. Bragg was a vital part of the team, finishing second in scoring with 12.6 points per game. He also led the team in offensive rebounding (3.2 orb), rebounding (10.3 rpg) and blocked shots (1.5 bpg) — all finishing among the Top-4 in the conference.

Caldwell (5.8 ppg) leads the team in assists (5.7 apg) and steals (2.2 spg).

After Bragg was dismissed, UNM suffered two major road losses to Colorado State (105-72) and UNLV (99-78). The Lobos lost two more starters, Vance Jackson (knee) and JaQuan Lyle (knee), because of injury during their road trip. Their returns remain questionable for Saturday.

Despite missing four starters, the Lobos earned an 86-59 victory over SJSU in their most recent outing. Corey Manigault tied a season-high in points with 21 on 8-of-13 shooting.

New Mexico leads the conference in scoring (80.3 ppg) and field goal percentage (.497). The Lobos rank in the Top-20 across Division-I in both categories.

They do an excellent job drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line, translating to their high scoring total. New Mexico is second in the country in both free throw makes (382) and free throw attempts (544) — only trailing Arkansas State in both categories.

Lyle leads the team in scoring at 17.1 points per game, shooting 46.4 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from deep. He is second on the squad in both assists (4.9 apg) and steals (1.4 spg).

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at New Mexico
New Mexico Lobos guard JaQuan Lyle (5) moves the ball against Wisconsin Badgers guard Brad Davison (34).
Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Manigault (12.0 ppg), Zane Martin (10.1 ppg) and Makuach Maluach (10.0 ppg) are the remaining double-digit scorers for New Mexico.

Manigault is tallying 16.3 points on 64.5 percent shooting in his last eight games, the only games he has started this season. The 6-foot-9 forward is shooting a career-best 61.6 percent on the year and is second on the team in rebounding at 4.9 boards per contest.

Much like Manigault, Martin’s only starts on the year have come in the last eight games. He has totaled 13.1 points on 52 percent shooting in that span. The 6-foot-4 guard sports a 44.8 shooting percentage with a lowly 20.9 three-point percentage on the year.

Martin and Manigault are both tied for third on the team in steals at 1.1 per game.

Malauch is shooting 53.1 percent and 34 percent from deep on the year. He has totaled 3.9 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game in 26.7 minutes.

The Wolf Pack have totaled 74.5 points — 5th-fewest in the conference — on 43.2 percent shooting. Its 38.2 three-point percentage — T-17-best in the nation — trails only Air Force (.383) for the conference lead.

Per Barttorvik, Nevada’s offense ranks 72nd-best in the nation and third-best in the conference.

Jalen Harris tops Nevada and is second in the conference at 18.9 points per game. He owns a 16-game streak of double-digit scoring that dates back to Nov. 19 versus Davidson.

The 6-foot-5 guard leads the team in rebounds (6.3 rpg) and is second in assists (4.4 apg). Harris has also tallied a conference-best 23 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting in conference play (8 games).

Jazz Johnson is second on the team — No. 5 in the conference — in scoring at 17 points per game. He remains the MW leader in both total three-point field goals (65) and three-point field goals per game (3.3).

Lindsey Drew is the final double-digit Pack scorer at 11.8 points per game. After coming off a cold scoring spell where Drew scored 4.7 points on 14.3 percent shooting in his last three games heading into Wednesday, he had a 15-point performance versus UNLV on 4-of-7 shooting. Drew tops the team in assists (4.4 apg) and is second in rebounds (6.1 rpg).

Projected Lineups:

Nevada:

New Mexico:

Additional Links:

Nevada Game Notes: https://go.aws/2tEYEDV

New Mexico Game Notes: https://go.aws/36tcNBg

Live Stats: https://bit.ly/3aGVFeI

Steve Alford seeks 600th career victory Saturday.