Texas A&M finally got a bit of a reprieve after a busy stretch in its schedule. Getting some extra rest for its next opponent could go a long way.
The No. 16 Aggies take on undefeated New Mexico in Houston on Saturday, facing one of the toughest challenges to their defense yet.
After three straight home games, Texas A&M (8-1) is headed back on the road, although it won’t go far, traveling to the Toyota Center to take on the Lobos (9-0). The Aggies, who beat LSU there last season, will try to win their fifth in a row overall.
That could be tough to accomplish. New Mexico, which received 35 votes in this week’s AP poll, already has three road wins along with a home victory over preseason Pac-10 favorite California.
Plus, the Lobos are among the top 25 nationally in scoring at 82.1 points per game and they’re shooting close to 40 percent from 3-point range.
“They’re legit,” Aggies coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’ve played a lot of really good teams. This will probably be the best offensive team we’ve faced. … It’ll be our toughest challenge defensively.”
Texas A&M is holding opponents to 63.3 points per game and has given up more than 70 only once.
The Aggies are coming off a 75-65 win over North Texas on Monday.
“If we get stops we’re all right,” said Donald Sloan, who scored 21 points. “If we don’t - that’s when we get into trouble.”
A five-day break since that game could benefit Texas A&M, which had played six games in 12 days—a span that included the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif.
“I was a little concerned about this stretch,” Turgeon said. “We have a long way to go, but to be 8-1 following the stretch we’ve played - it’s a good start.”
New Mexico is off to its best start since opening 10-0 in 1995-96.
The Lobos are coming off an 82-78 win at San Diego on Wednesday. While letting the Toreros shoot 55.6 percent and make 11 3-pointers, New Mexico went 12 of 18 from 3-point range and shot 76.2 percent overall in the second half.
Roman Martinez had a career-high 26 points, going 8 of 9 from 3-point range, while Dairese Gary scored a career-best 21.
Martinez is second on the team in scoring, averaging 16.8 points. He’s shooting 53.3 from 3-point range, averaging close to seven shots beyond the arc per game.
“He is just a phenomenal player,” coach Steve Alford told the Lobos’ official Web site. “It’s night-in and night-out and he was there again tonight.”
Darington Hobson tops the Lobos with 17.1 points per game but failed to score in double figures Wednesday for the first time this season. He’s 2 for 14 from 3-point range in the last five games after going 7 for 14 through the first four.
New Mexico leads the series against Texas A&M 4-1, though this is the first meeting since the Lobos won 71-69 in 1992.