The New Mexico Lobos enter Wednesdays evening's game against Boise State knowing that they have almost no chance of catching the league leaders San Diego State but that does not mean that they do not have anything to play for the rest of the season.
New Mexico sits in second place but is just one game ahead of the fifth place Nevada Wolf Pack with Boise just one game behind the Lobos so a win for them would great a tie for second.
The difference between the second seed and the Fourth or fifth seed is crucial for teams as falling in the four or five slots would mean a second round meeting with the league leading Aztecs and while the Lobos had the Aztecs beat earlier in the season its they Aztecs ability to pull out close games is a big reason you do not want to see them until the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament.
The tournament is important for all teams in the MWC because as of right now that is the only way any of the teams will make the NCAA tournament and for New Mexico they will need to make it to the finals in order to even be considered for an at large bid in the N.I.T.
Boise State is a team that matches up well with the Lobos and while New Mexico won at Taco Bell Area earlier in the season the sharp shooting Lonnie Jackson made the game a lot closer than it should have been. The Broncos are led by James Web III who is averaging 15.9 points per game. Web who has held to 8 points in 34 minutes in the team's first meetings is one of the conference's best players in the league and is coming off a 21 point 11 rebound effort against Wyoming.
Boise State coach Leon Rice felt that the team needed a shake up so prior to the team controversial loss to Colorado State Rice moved starters Anthony Drmic and Nick Duncan to the bench. Duncan who is a Lobo killer is a versatile big man that gives New Mexico problems with his outside shooting. If the Lobos are going to win Wednesday they must keep track of Duncan when he is on the floor.
They must also keep track of the sharp shooting Lonnie Jackson who made five three pointers against New Mexico. Jackson who is averaging 7.5 points per game has come on lately making over three of his three pointer shots and scoring in double digits 4 out of his last five games.
On the Lobos side they most continue to play constant last week against Utah State the team failed to play defense giving the Aggies tons of open shots, doing this against the Broncos is not an option as Boise State has lots of offensive fire power.
New Mexico must also contain Mickey Thompson as his ability to penetrate allows to teams shooters to get open. On the offensive side New Mexico must run their offense through Tim Williams, Elijah Brown is going to get his points but the Lobos are difficult to stop when Williams is getting touches. Williams has been unstoppable the last five games averaging 21.6 points and 7.6 rebound during this stretch. Over that same time frame the Lobos leading scorer Elijiah Brown has averaged 24.4 points per game.
The Broncos will do everything they can do to contain Brown and Williams so it will be important for players like Cullen Neal, Sam Logwood and the bench player to contribute. To win the game the Lobos must also get good bench play Jordan Hunter hurt his ankle against Sn Jose State but players like Anthony Mathis, Xavier Adams and Duane Kuiper must contribute will they are in the game each over the players have the ability to hit shots so the Lobos need to get at least 10 point or more from the combination of these players to win.
Tonight's game will be a battle with both teams needing to win so look for this game to come down to the end. The Broncos have had the Lobos number as of late and despite New Mexico beating the Bronco in Boise they expect a fight. Look for Cullen Neal to come out his shooting slump tonight this will be enough to push the Lobos over giving them a 83-76 win.