A look at San Diego State’s Game #23 vs. New Mexico:
place/time: Viejas Arena; 6 p.m. Saturday
records: SDSU stands 13-3, 4-0; New Mexico is 15-2, 2-2
In the air: CBSSN; 760 AM
history of the series: New Mexico leads 48-43, but SDSU has won three in a row and five of six, including 72-47 last year at Viejas Arena.
Lobos update: They are 15-2 but have yet to face an opponent who is ranked in the AP poll and they have lost to ranked teams five times in a row on the road. They were the last remaining undefeated team in the nation, losing to UNLV 71-67 at Fresno State and 84-77 at home. They put the ship back on track on Monday by beating Oral Roberts 82-75 in The Pit to finish 13-0 in the nonconference and had the rest of the week to prepare for the Aztecs. They’ve gone from 220 in the kenpom metric this time last year to 64 now. The backcourt was filled with Arizona State’s Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. from last season, succeeding coach Richard Pitino of Minnesota. House (16.6 points) leads the conference in assists and steals. Mashburn is the conference’s top scorer (17.9). The big question was literally could they find bigs, and they did with 6-8, 240-pound Wichita State transfer Morris Udeze (16.0 points, 7.9 rebounds) and 6-8, 235- Pound transfer from Missouri-Kansas City Josiah Allick (Mountain West’s lead rebounder in 8.2). Guard Donovan Dent, the 2022 Corona Centennial preparer for California, comes off the bench. The only other div. I program with three players averaging 16 or more points in North Carolina.
Aztec update: The difference in the strength of the schedule is striking. The SDSU’s SOS is the 18thth most difficult according to Kenpom; New Mexico is 207th. However, the Lobos won at Saint Mary’s and the Aztecs lost to the Gaels on a neutral pitch. The only other common opponent is Wyoming. Both teams played at Laramie and both won – 76-75 by New Mexico and 80-75 by SDSU. How’s that for a turn of events? SDSU ranks #1 in offensive efficiency in the Mountain West with four conference games and only fourth on defense. Still, Saturday will be a battle between New Mexico’s O vs. SDSU’s D. The Lobos post their best results of the conference with 82.6 points (Decth in the nation), while the Aztecs recently had a three-game stretch in which they admitted 54, 46 and 55. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us to prove who we are.” Last year’s 25-point win at Viejas made SDSU the first team in 42 seasons to beat the Lobos by 20 or more points in three straight games . Their current form behind the 3-point arc is a far cry from their struggles earlier in the season, scoring 52 and 45.2 percent in their last five games. They are 19-1 in their last 20 home conference games.
next up: Wednesday in the state of Colorado (7:30 p.m. PST, FS1)