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Howling With The Lobos: Nevada Preview

Alford returns to The Pit

Nevada v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

What: New Mexico Lobos vs. Nevada Wolfpack

When: Tuesday February 18th, 2020 at 7 p.m. Mountain

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

Coverage: ESPNU will be broadcasting the game on television. The UNM Sports Radio Network will have the radio call (770 AM/94.5 FM KKOB in Albuquerque, TuneIn App search KKOB).

Series: This is the 15th contest between the two schools. Nevada won the last time out, a 96-74 victory. That knotted the series up at 7-7. Last time these two squared off in The Pit the Lobos won 85-58 last season.

Breakdown:

The New Mexico Lobos will welcome back their old coaches, Steve Alford and Craig Neal, when they host the Nevada Wolfpack at The Pit on Tuesday night. Alford and Neal are former New Mexico head coaches and are making their returns to the famed Albuquerque arena for the first time since departing.

The Lobos are 17-10 overall and 6-8 in the Mountain West Conference. Last game out the Lobos dropped a heartbreaker at home to UNLV, 78-73 on Saturday. Nevada, meanwhile, have had six days off since beating the aforementioned UNLV last Wednesday in overtime, 82-79. The win makes the Wolfpack 16-10 on the season and 9-5 in the MWC.

Frustrations Rising:

What had been a promising year has gone sour in a hurry for the UNM Lobos. The loss to UNLV on Saturday dropped the Lobos to 2-7 over their last nine contests. Players aren’t delivering and becoming frustrated, Coach Weir has no answers in the postgame press conferences, and fans’ frustrations and grumblings are beginning to mount.

A win over Nevada on Tuesday night would go a long way to easing some tensions right now. It could also spark some momentum in this team with just three games to go in the regular season following this contest.

Key players for Nevada:

Jalen Harris is on a tear lately. He has gone for 38 points, 32 points and 29 points over the last three games respectively. He’s averaging 21.5 points per game this season and poured in 19 points earlier this season against the Lobos. And to top it off, he is averaging 23 points per game on the road this season. The Lobos will need to slow Harris down to have a shot at a win in this one.

To compliment Harris is Jazz Johnson. He scored just 12 points against UNM earlier this season, which is below his average of 16.3 a game this season. Do not let that fool you, though, he had 19 points in the win over UNLV and had a game earlier this season against Boise State in which he scored 34 points.

Lobos X-Factor:

One just had to look at the boxscore to find out how the Lobos lost to UNLV over the weekend. Their two top players, Vance Jackson and JaQuan Lyle, combined for just 10 points and eight turnovers. In a five-point game where your top two are struggling, chances are your team is going to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. And that was the case against UNLV.

The Lobos desperately need Lyle and Jackson to come up big in this game. Especially if they cannot slow down Jalen Harris. Their play will take the pressure off of others and allow the Lobos talent to take over.

Prediction:

I hate losses just as much as the next guy. However, the Lobos do have something to build off of from the loss to UNLV. Considering how bad Lyle and Jackson were, the Lobos only losing by five was interesting. I feel with the emotions of tonight from the crowd welcoming Alford and Neal back, this is a stage that Lyle and Jackson can show up and show the faithful that this team is the one they should be supporting instead of the past. I got the Lobos in a tight one. Give me Lobos-79 Nevada-75.