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Lobo Pack: San Jose State Series Preview

It’s now or never

Nevada v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

What:

New Mexico Lobos vs. San Jose State Spartans

When:

Thursday January 21st, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. MT and Saturday January 23rd at 12:00 p.m. MT

Where:

Burns Arena in St. George, Utah. Dixie State’s home court, that the UNM Lobos are using for the week to practice and play.

Coverage:

The games will be streamed on the Mountain West Network at themw.com/watch. The Lobo Sports Radio Network will have the call on the airwaves. You can find that on the Lobo Sports App, or on 770 AM/96.3 FM KKOB in Albuquerque.

Series:

This will be the 20th and 21st times that the two teams meet on the hardwood. New Mexico has a 16-3 series edge. Last time they tangled was in last season’s MWC Conference Tournament and the Lobos won 79-66. The two split the regular season matchups.

Breakdown:

In a battle of cellar-dwelling Mountain West Conference teams, the New Mexico Lobos will square off against the San Jose State Spartans on Thursday and Saturday afternoons in Burns Arena in St. George, Utah.

The Lobos enter the game at 4-8 and 0-8 in the MWC. Last game out the Lobos dropped a heartbreaker to UNLV, 53-46. In that game the Lobos led for over 24 minutes, and were tied with 5:43 remaining, before it slipped away.

The Spartans are 2-10 on the season and, likewise, 0-8 in the MWC. Last game out the Spartans were pummeled by Colorado State, 88-61. San Jose State’s two wins have come against non-Division 1 opponents. They beat Benedictine University of Arizona, and Fresno Pacific for their lone wins on the campaign.

What to expect from San Jose State:

It is amazing how similar these two teams are. San Jose State struggles to shoot from just about anywhere, including the free throw line, just as New Mexico does. The Spartans don’t shoot a ton of threes, but they will take them if needed.

The Spartans are led by Richard Washington, who averages 22.2 points per game this season. He had 15 points in the last game against Colorado State. However, in the first game of that series, Washington went for 35 of SJSU’s 57 points. In fact, just one game this season has Washington not scored in double figures in points.

Last season against UNM, Washington was up and down. In the first meeting he hit 7-three-point baskets on his way to a 25-point performance that led SJSU to a win. In Albuquerque, he was held to three points and in the MWC Tournament game, the Lobos kept him to eight points.

If UNM is able to stymie Washington again, it could spell doom for the Spartans.

What to expect from New Mexico:

After getting blown out on Saturday by UNLV, the Lobos looked much better against the Rebels on Monday. Lots of good defense, for a change. However, it was once again shooting that was the major factor in the loss.

The Lobos shot just 34.7% from the field on Monday night. Even Makuach Maluach, the Lobos top player, struggling on the night, going 3-of-12, and ending with just nine points. Maluach has to play better if the Lobos expect to win this one.

The Lobos need big play out of another player besides Maluach too. Lately that has come from Saquan Singleton, who has scored in double figures in two of the last three games. With the Spartans struggling to find offense, if Singleton and Maluach can get it going the Lobos will have a pretty good chance at winning.

Prediction:

It is now or never for the UNM men’s basketball team. If the Lobos cannot beat a reeling San Jose State Spartans team in either of these two games, then I expect a winless MWC campaign and only four wins on the season, which undoubtedly would put Coach Paul Weir on the hot seat.

I expect the Lobos and Spartans to have a couple of close ones, but I think the Lobos get it done both Thursday and on Saturday.

Game 1: Lobos-63 Spartans-55

Game 2: Lobos-70 Spartans-64