The University of New Mexico Lobos nearly upset the Nevada Wolf Pack on the road at Lawlor center on Saturday afternoon in what could have been a signature win for head coach Paul Weir in his first season at the helm of the UNM program.
Weir and the Lobos get another chance for that signature conference win against a tough Boise State Broncos team tonight at Taco Bell Arena. The heavily favored Broncos enter the contest with a 12-2 overall record and are currently tied with Nevada at 2-0 atop the Mountain West Conference standings.
The Broncos boast conference wins against Colorado State and UNLV, with an out of conference record that includes a road victory over Oregon.
Like the Lobos, Boise State uses a balanced attack on offense, with four different players averaging over ten points per game. Senior guard Chandler Hutchison leads the team scoring (17.5 PPG), rebounding (8.4 RPG), and assists (3.7. The 6-7, 197 pound native of Mission Viejo, California, will be a difficult matchup for the Lobos, as his size, length, and ability to shoot from outside and off the dribble makes him a mismatch for most teams.
Hutchison scored a season-high 32 points on 13-18 shooting against the Rebels on 12/30, including a perfect 3 for 3 from behind the arc. The two-time Mountain West Conference player of the week is the only player in the conference currently ranked in the top five in points, rebounds, and assists per game.
Fellow guard Justinian Jessup is second on the team in scoring at just under 14 points per game, while forward Christian Sengfelder of Leverkusen, Germany, is third at 11.4.
Rebounds and second-chance points for the Broncos could be a critical factor in this game, as Boise State ranks third in the conference in rebound differential with plus-8 rebounds per game, while the smaller Lobos rank dead last with a rebound margin on -2.9.
The vertically-challenged Lobos will continue to force pressure on the Broncos with press defense and will look to gain an advantage on transition buckets. The Lobos own a significant advantage in free throw percentage (77% to 69%) and will need to continue their sharp shooting from the charity stripe to have any chance of winning.
Although they are still searching for their first road victory of the season, the Lobos own a four-game win streak over the Broncos after sweeping the season-series over the past two years.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m MT, with Television coverage on ESPN3.