The University of New Mexico men's basketball team has a pair of big games ahead of it as the team will square off against two squads the Lobos are currently tied with in the conference standings.
New Mexico (13-14, 8-6 MW) will get to host UNLV this weekend, but will first be faced with a road test against the Wyoming Cowboys (17-10, 8-6 MW).
The Lobos won the first meeting between the teams earlier in the year in Albuquerque, dispatching of the Cowboys 75-66 on Jan 10. But Wyoming gets to play Wednesday's matchup in Arena-Auditorium, where the Cowboys have dropped just three games all season.
Despite a UNM win the first time around, Wyoming junior guard Justin James had his way with the Lobos — scoring a game-high 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting. But he didn't get a lot of help as his teammate, senior forward Dalton Hayden, was the only other Cowboy to notch double figures.
UNM senior guard Antino Jackson paced the Lobos with 20 points as he and three other teammates notched double-digit scoring nights. Joe Furstinger and Makuach Maluach each scored 17 points, while Anthony Mathis chipped in 16.
Wyoming won the battle in the paint, nearly doubling the point total of New Mexico in the lane, 42-24. But UNM swung things back in its favor by knocking down 10 shots from beyond the arc and scored more points off turnovers, even though it committed more of them than the Cowboys.
There was also a big disparity in free throw shooting. Wyoming shot well from the foul line, going 10-of-12 as a team, but the Lobos got more than twice as many attempts from the charity stripe.
A lot has changed though, for both teams, since last seeing each other. Senior Sam Logwood and junior guard Troy Simons both missed the first meeting and should be ready for competition this time around.
Wyoming has also played much differently and has seemed to pick up the scoring average. The Cowboys scored 90 or more points in three straight games — all wins — to close out the month of January.
New Mexico has not played well on the road, picking up just two wins outside of Dreamstyle Arena so far this season. That is a trend the team will definitely need to break soon, as it tries to figure out how to close games away from home.
Both teams have played .500 ball over its last six games, though each picked up a victory in its last game. New Mexico took care of Utah State by a score of 78-63 on Valentine's Day, while Wyoming knocked off San Jose State, 89-75, on Feb. 17.
Each squad will be desperately seeking a conference victory that could have major implications regarding seeding with the Mountain West Tournament approaching in the near future.
The Lobos and Cowboys will tip-off at 7 p.m. in Laramie, Wyoming with the game being broadcast on AT&T Sportsnet and carried on 770 KKOB-AM Lobo Radio Network.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.