The University of New Mexico was 7-3 going into the Diamond Classic last week. They should've beaten Rice to be 8-2, but 7-3 was still respectable. However, Hawaii was far from paradise for the Lobos and they now find themselves just one game above .500 and in the midst of a four game losing streak. The last two losses haven't even been close. They'll hope that playing at the Pit, where they are 6-1, will help them right the ship.
Nevada comes into Albuquerque with a strong 8-4 record. Like UNM, they were vanquished in their last game, losing 98-69 at Wichita State. While undefeated in Reno, the Wolf Pack have struggled mightily on the road. Can we expect both patterns to hold at the Pit on Wednesday night?
Lobo fans should keep their eyes on Marqueze Coleman. The 6'4'' senior guard is putting up a team-high 17 ppg to go with 4 rpg and 4 apg. Coleman doesn't do it all on his own though. In fact, he has a lot of help. Five other players average between 9.6 and 13.3 ppg.
The Wolf Pack will rely on heavy doses of guard play so look for the ball to be in the hands of Coleman, D.J. Fenner, Tyron Criswell, and Eric Cooper Jr. With the exception of Cooper Jr., these guards rebound very well for their position (the Wolf Pack average 44 rebounds per game) and should give Cullen Neal, Elijah Brown, and Sam Logwood all that they can handle. I'm actually interested in the match up down low between AJ West (9.6 ppg, 7.7 rbg) and Lobos forward Tim Williams. While most of the focus will be on the guards, this match up of two similar sized players could be decisive.
If Wolf Pack fans haven't checked out the Lobos yet this year, they should be prepared to see a triumvirate of Neal, Brown, and Williams doing nearly all of the work on offense. Thus far this season the key to beating the Lobos is forcing one of these three players to have a bad game. It will be interesting to see if one of the Lobos' role players can step up to have a more meaningful impact on offense.
Coach Neal has looked towards Anthony Mathis and Joe Furstinger to bring some energy off the bench, but it hasn't been consistent. I would personally love to see Sam Logwood be more of a presence on the offensive end through aggressive cuts to the basket. If the Lobos' big three play well, and Brown and Neal have it clicking from deep, the Wolf Pack will be in for a long night.
This game can be viewed on Root Sports on Wednesday, December 30th at 7:00 pm Mountain Time. I expect it to be a howling good contest.