In the team’s fourth conference appearance this season—posting two losses on the road against, and a win at home—the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team will play host to, record wise, the worst team in the Mountain West in San Jose State on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
The Spartans (3-11, 0-3 MW), which have played three conference games like UNM, have lost all three to the likes of Utah State, Colorado State and UNLV, respectively.
Against UNLV, who is sitting in fifth place in the Mountain West standings with a 12-3 record overall, was, to this point, one of the Spartans’ toughest matchups. In that game, SJSU took UNLV to overtime after reeling back from a double digit deficit in the fourth quarter, though they eventually fell, 82-76, at home.
UNM (6-10, 1-2 MW), on the other hand, is coming off of a two game road trip, in which they lost both of those games to Boise State and Nevada—the two top teams in the conference.
Most recently, against Boise State, the Lobos struggled. In a game they lost 90-62, UNM 34.9 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from range, while also committing 13 turnovers. In that game, junior guard Troy Simons picked up two technicals.
Subsequently, the Mountain West suspended the junior on Friday. The suspension could have a big impact, as Simons has been in the starting rotation for much of the season.
That aside, though, the Lobos still enter Saturday’s matchup with a better record and a home court advantage over the Spartans.
As far as shooting percentages go, the Lobos, as a team, are shooting 42 percent from the field. They’re also hitting 34.8 percent of their 3s. Though they rank in the middle of the pack in 3-point percentages, UNM leads the Mountain West in shots made from beyond the arc, hitting 174 of them this season and averaging around 10.9 per game.
Leading the Lobos in scoring is senior forward Sam Logwood, who averages 12.9 points. Following him is junior guard Chris McNeal at 10.8 points per contest. Those two are the only double digit scorers for UNM thus far, but others like senior forward Joe Furstinger and junior guard Anthony Mathis, too, have been bright spots.
Furstinger nearly notched his fifth straight double-double against the Broncos, falling four rebounds shy of that mark. On the season, however, the senior has been averaging 8.3 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game.
On the other hand, Mathis leads UNM in 3-pointers made (40) and 3-point field goal percentage (47.1).
For the Spartans, junior forward Ryan Welage has been leading his team in scoring at 18.5 points per game. And, as a team, SJSU is hitting 44.2 percent of its shots and 37.3 percent of its 3s.
Rebounding wise, the Spartans have the advantage over UNM at 37.9 per game, while the Lobos are averaging 34.3.
But SJSU is averaging 18.2 turnovers a game, and UNM is forcing 17.6 of them.
Tip-off for the game is on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network.
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.