In a battle for second-place in the Mountain West Conference, the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team plays host tonight to the Boise State Broncos at DreamStyle Arena, AKA the Pit.
Winners of three of their last four games, including two home victories over San Diego State and Colorado State, the Lobos look to stay undefeated at home in conference play while avenging their lopsided 90-62 loss against the Broncos in Boise on January 3rd.
UNM shot just 34.9% from the floor and 22% from behind the arc while getting out-rebounded 45 to 25. Junior guard Troy Simons was ejected from the game and subsequently suspended by the MWC for two games due to a culmination of multiple ejections and technical fouls. Simons was held out for a total of five games by head coach Paul Weir but has since returned to the team, providing a spark off the bench.
Sam Logwood and Antino Jackson also returned to the court in UNM’s 71-68 victory over San Jose State on Saturday afternoon, with the latter scoring a team-high 17 points in 27 minutes of play off the bench. Logwood had not logged any minutes for coach Weir since leaving the team for personal reasons after the Boise State game and a shoulder injury, while Jackson missed the Utah State game on January 31st for violating a team rule.
It will take a solid team effort by all Lobos, including Jackson, Simons, and Logwood, for New Mexico to defeat a Boise State team that ranks 59th in the nation in points scored per game (79.2) and 62nd in rebounds.
Boise State is a balanced team with four players averaging over ten points per game, including senior guard Chandler Hutchison, who is tied with Nevada’s Caleb Martin for the MWC scoring title at 19.8 points per game. The 6-7, 197-pound native of Mission Viejo, California, scored 17 points against the Lobos back in January, making six of 12 shots from the floor. Hutchison has been hot as of late, scoring 19 or more points in four of his last six games, including an impressive 44 point performance against San Diego State.
Weir and the Lobos will also need to contain fellow guard Justinian Jessup, the third-best three-point shooting player in the conference and a streaky shooter who can do significant damage when he gets hot.
The Lobos have won 10 of the 14 matchups between the two schools and four of the last five games. Look for UNM to continue their relentless pressure defense (6th in the nation in turnover margin and 10th in turnovers forced), while attacking the Broncos in transition and from behind the arc. New Mexico enters the game ranked first in the conference, and seventh in the nation in both three-point field goals attempted and made.
Tipoff is set for 8:00 pm, with television coverage provided by ESPNU.