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Howling With The Lobos: Fresno State Preview

UC Davis v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

What: New Mexico Lobos vs. Fresno State Bulldogs

When: Tuesday January 7th, 2020 at 9 p.m. Mountain

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

Coverage: ESPNU will have the television broadcast. The radio broadcast will be carried by the UNM Sports Radio Network. One can find the UNM Sports Radio Network on the TuneIn app by searching KKOB. In Albuquerque the call is on 770 AM/94.5 FM KKOB.

Series: This is the 31st meeting between New Mexico and Fresno State. UNM holds a 16-14 record in the series. Fresno State won both meetings last season, including an 81-73 victory in The Pit last season.

Breakdown:

The New Mexico Lobos will try to get back to their winning ways when they host the Fresno State Bulldogs on Tuesday night. The Lobos are coming off of an 88-85 loss at San Jose State last Wednesday night. That loss ended the Lobos eight-game winning streak and put them to 2-1 in Mountain West play.

Fresno State, meanwhile, is coming off of a win over San Jose State this past Saturday. That win pushed the Bulldogs record to 5-10 overall and 1-3 in the MWC. The Bulldogs will be seeking back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

The return of Bragg

Senior starter Carlton Bragg Jr. has been reinstated by New Mexico and will play in this contest. Bragg had missed the previous three contests, and it showed. The Lobos have had to resort to playing small and not having much depth during Bragg’s and JJ Caldwell’s suspensions.

Getting Bragg back is huge from the depth standpoint as well as the offensive standpoint where the Lobos could very much use his 13.5 points per game. His 10.8 rebounds should come in handy too.

Home winning streak on the line

The Lobos sit at 10-0 at home this season and have won 12 in a row at The Pit dating back to last season. Who was the last team to beat the Lobos at home? You guessed it, the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Who to keep an eye on from Fresno State

The Bulldogs boast four different players that average in double-figures in points. They are led by Nate Grimes who averages 12.8 points per game. Grimes, however, hasn’t played in the Bulldogs last two contests and is questionable for tonight’s contest. Fresno State’s next top player is New Williams. Williams averages 12.2 points per game, but it the Bulldogs’ biggest threat from the outside. He knocked down 10-of-18 three pointers on his way to scoring 32 points in their win over San Jose State. That was a season high for Williams but considering the fact that the Lobos give up a ton of three-point shots, expect Williams to knock some down and keep Fresno State in the game.

Fresno State’s other two players that average in double figures in points per game are Orlando Robinson, who averages 12.7 points per game and had 23 against San Jose State, and Jarred Hyder who is averaging 11.2 points per game and had 23 points against San Diego State two games ago.

Lobos X-Factor

Well we can now say that he has gotten going this season. Of course, that he is Vance Jackson. The Lobos 6-foot-9 guard/forward exploded for 25 points against San Jose State last Wednesday night, a season high. That is also the fourth consecutive contest in which Jackson has scored in double figures in points. With Bragg back it well helped ease some of the Lobos offensive woes, but what will really help them is if Jackson had a giant night again. Therefore, Jackson will be the x-factor in how well the Lobos do tonight.

Prediction

The Lobos had a devastating loss last Wednesday on the road. If the Lobos expect to contend for the regular season title in the Mountain West, they need to take care of teams who are shaky at best, or near the bottom of the conference. They were unable to do that last week. They get another chance tonight against a Fresno State team that beat San Jose State over the weekend, but still sit near the bottom of the conference. I expect The Pit to be rocking even with a 9 p.m. start. The energy of the players will be high with Bragg back in the lineup, and I think the Lobos have something to prove after last week’s loss. I like the Lobos in this one, though the three-point shooting of Fresno State will keep it a little close. I got Lobos-83 Fresno State-75.