The University of New Mexico Lobos, who have started off a fresh 7-0 this season, will head down to El Paso, Texas to play UTEP in the team’s first game away from Dreamstyle Arena this season.
UNM has had the advantage of playing all seven of its games at home this season, a definite boost to the team’s unblemished record, while the UTEP Miners (4-0) have also started out the season undefeated, winning all four of their games at home too.
The Lobos, with their hot start, also received 19 points and are ranked 29th in the most recent AP standings.
Last weekend, the Lobos played three tournament games in three days, winning them all against Wichita State, UC Irvine and Illinois, while managing to win each game by 14 points or more — this season they’ve been winning games by an average of 18.6 points per game.
In that same weekend, the Lobos also managed to break a new single-game record for 3-pointers made, when they nailed 18 treys in the team’s victory over Illinois in the tournament finale — a game they won by a 29 point margin.
The game itself saw the Lobos make 18 of their 33 3-point attempts. Senior guard Tesha Buck, who was voted the tournament MVP, made five 3s on Sunday, while senior guard Alex Lapeyrolerie tied her career-best six made 3-pointers. Lapeyrolerie was also named onto the All-Tournament Team, along with Buck.
Buck averaged 17.3 points, 5.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds throughout the tournament, which also led to her being named Mountain West Player of the Week on Monday. Junior post Jaisa Nunn was the only other Lobo, along with Lapeyrolerie and Buck, to also be named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Miners, meanwhile, are coming in with two wins in the UTEP Classic — a tournament they hosted at the Don Haskins Center, their home base. Those wins, against Arkansas last Friday and Texas Southern University last Saturday, were UTEP’s most recent victories. The team’s other two victories early in the season came against the likes of CSU Bakersfield and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Unlike the Lobos in their tournament, UTEP’s victories over the weekend were won by narrower margins. Against the Razorbacks, the Miners won 64-61 in a nail-biting contest, and against Texas Southern, they won 65-55.
Senior forward Tamara Seda, who stands at 6-feet-4-inches, has been a big part of UTEP’s success early on this season, as well as junior guard-forward combo Najala Howell.
Seda has been putting up big numbers, as she leads the team in both scoring and rebounding per game (19 ppg and 9 rpg), while Howell is averaging 15 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists so far this season.
UNM, though, posts a variety of threats as far as scoring goes. Though senior guard Cherise Beynon didn’t play too well in the tournament — with the exception of the Wichita State game — she still leads the Lobos in scoring, as she’s averaging 16.4 points per contest. Nunn (16.0), Buck (14.7), freshman guard Madi Washington (11.2) and Lapeyrolerie (11.0) have also been averaging double digits in scoring as well.
As a team, UTEP is shooting 47.2 percent from the field, while the Lobos are shooting 43.9 percent.
What can end up being the difference, however, is the 3-ball. So far this season, the Lobos have attempted 179 3-pointers, while draining 70 of them. UTEP, on the other hand, has only attempted 47 3-pointers, though they have made 38.3 percent of them.
Tip-off for Thursday’s contest is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Dreamstyle Arena.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.