It will be a battle of 3-8, as both UNM and Rice will enter Tuesday’s contest at Dreamstyle Arena posing identical records.
The Lobos, who just lost to now-ranked No. 21 Arizona 89-73 at the Pit on Saturday, have dropped their last four in a row. They also haven’t won a game since Nov. 29, when they defeated Evansville by 19 points. All of their losses this month have been by double digits, with the exception of a closely contested battle at home against New Mexico State—a game they lost by three points.
The Owls have won one and lost three games in the month of December, with their lone victory coming at home against St Edward’s. Most recently Rice lost to currently ranked No. 21 Texas Tech on Saturday 73-53.
The two teams, who have met six times in their history, used to play in the Western Athletic Conference together. Four of those games came during that span and, overall, UNM has held a 4-2 lead in the series. At the Pit, the series has been split, with both Rice and UNM winning twice there.
In the most recent matchup between Rice and UNM, the Owls won in one of the most memorable moments in Lobos’ history, when then-forward for UNM, Tim Williams, tried to call a timeout the team didn’t have, leading to Rice making the game-winning free throw to give them a 90-89 victory.
This UNM team features only four players from the 2015-16 season when it lost to the Owls, in juniors Dane Kuiper and Anthony Mathis and seniors Joe Furstinger and Sam Logwood.
Logwood, who’s been of much controversy as of late—when he left the team for a six day span, missing the most recent NMSU game—played on Saturday against Arizona, though he came off the bench. He did, however, log in 27 minutes that game. He’s also still UNM’s leading scorer this season, as he’s averaging 14.2 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting.
Junior Chris McNeal, who scored only six points against Arizona, is the second leading scorer on the team at 12.6 points per game, and Mathis—who has came off the bench in all 11 games so far—is third in scoring at 10.2 points per game.
For Rice, its leading scorer comes in the likes of junior Connor Cashaw, who’s averaging 16.6 points per game. He’s also been a rebounding threat, bringing down a team-high 7.2 boards per game.
The Lobos, so far this season, have been averaging 80 points per game, while the Owls are averaging 66.8.
Something that favors UNM is Rice’s turnover rate. In 11 games, the Owls are averaging 18.4 turnovers per contest, while UNM is forcing 19.4 turnovers defensively.
The Lobos, who have struggled all season long in the rebounding department, are averaging 33.5, while allowing their opponents seven more boards in the game.
For Rice, the team has been averaging 39.2 rebounds per game, while holding its opponents to two less.
A win for UNM against the Owls on Tuesday can only boast the team’s hopes, as they host one more non-conference game before opening up Mountain West play against Air Force on Dec. 27 at home.
Rice vs. UNM can be viewed live on AT&T SportsNet this Tuesday Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. or heard on 770 KKOB-AM radio.
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 reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.