New Mexico vs. Nevada: Preview, Odds, How To Watch

New Mexico vs. Nevada: Preview, Odds, How To Watch

Lobos take to the road this week

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Wolf Pack will try to defend the home court.

Game: Nevada Wolf Pack vs New Mexico Lobos

When: Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Where: Lawlor Events Center Reno, NV

TV: CBS Sports Network

Live Stream: FuboTV (Try for free.)

On Tuesday, the No. 25 New Mexico Lobos (19-5, 7-4 MWC) will face off against the Nevada Wolf Pack (19-5, 6-4 MWC) at Lawlor Events Center on February 13 at 11:00 p.m. ET.

According to our computer prediction, this matchup is anticipated to end with a 76-73 victory for New Mexico, which our model slightly favors.

The New Mexico men’s basketball team kicks off a two-game road stretch on Tuesday with a matchup against Nevada and Friday against SDSU. 

The game will tip off at 9:00 p.m. MT (8:00 p.m. PT) in Reno and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network and the Lobo Radio Network.

Currently boasting a record of 19-5 this season, with a conference standing of 7-4 in the Mountain West, the Lobos sit at No. 22 in the NET rankings.

Their recent road performances have been impressive, securing victories in their last three away games, all with double-digit leads. 

They aim to extend this streak to four consecutive conference road wins, a feat not achieved since the 2013-14 season when they had a five-game streak.

 In their latest road game against Wyoming last Tuesday, JT Toppin’s outstanding performance marked his eighth double-double of the season, setting a freshman record at UNM.

Saturday’s match highlighted the Lobos’ most formidable challenge this season: losing the battle in points scored in the paint. 

Saturday was by far the worst game of the season the Lobos have had in terms of losing the points in the paint battle; 48-26 screams this point. 

“I think we were better in the second half (at the rim), but they were getting to the rim — they’re strong at the rim. They’re tough at the rim,” said UNM coach Richard Pitino.

 “We need to do a much better job of making those (shots near the rim). They were there. 

“They were shooting like 70% at the rim, so we’ve got to be way more disruptive and not allow the ball to get there (to the big men so close to the basket), but also give them credit. They were really good.”

Against Boise State, it was pretty much the same, with the Lobos being outrebounded 46-38, so this must be fixed to allow them a chance to get road wins, especially.  

Therefore, expect the Wolf Pack to prioritize packing the paint again, meaning the Lobos’ big men must display great physicality to remain competitive.

The Rebels were clearly the more athletic team and had the length to impose their defensive will on the Lobos, hence sweeping the Lobos this year. 

They packed the paint defensively, and other teams are noticing, so the Lobos must put their “mean socks” for them to have a chance to pick up some road wins.  

The Lobo guards have faced challenges with their shots being blocked and have struggled against the length of opposing teams.

 This was anticipated, especially given the decision to start three shorter guards in Jaelen House (6-foot-0), Donovan Dent (6-2), and Jamal Mashburn Jr. (6-2).

“Yeah, me and Mash gotta do a better job boxing out the ‘2’ and the ‘3’ down there,” Dent said. “They had how many offensive rebounds? Twelve offensive rebounds, mostly from Boone and Rodriguez. We gotta do better there.”

You can bet Steve Alfords Wolf Pack will emphasize that they must outrebound Richard Pitinos Lobos, putting them in the driver’s seat. 

UNM might consider putting three bigs on the court at the same time as Nelly, Topping and Amzil when the other teams are packing the paint. 

Or even a 2-3 zone when opposing teams show their hand early, at least change it up so they are not so predictable on defense. 

This is especially true when one of your guards is showing off that night; at least you cannot get outrebounded. 

Dent acknowledged the size advantage of UNLV wings Luis Rodriguez (6-6) and Keylan Boone (6-8) over himself and Mashburn.

 This led to the Rebels securing six offensive rebounds (three each for Rodriguez and Boone) out of UNLV’s total of 12. 

Many of these offensive rebounds translated into easy buckets near the rim and in the paint for the Rebels.

Both games against the UNLV Rebels and the Jan 31st game against the Broncos outscored the Lobo big men, making it very challenging to get the Lobos to attack the rim themselves. 

Nelly Junior Joseph and freshman JT Topping must step up against the Wolf Pack for the Lobos to win by rebounding and scoring on the road. 

Opposing Coaches watch the film of the losses of their next opponent and try to duplicate the same strategy. Of course, they must have the personnel to do so. 

This is something that Coach Pitino’s staff have to figure out , as you can get Steve Alford for Nevada, who will be looking to duplicate this same effort. 

Additionally, there have been shortcomings in feeding the ball to big men JT Toppin and Nelly Junior Joseph in favorable scoring positions, with much of their interior offense coming from second-chance points off missed shots.

When the Bigs have the ball in the low post-block area, he is a force for UNM, but there is no doubt they must get more production, both rebounds and scoring, from him. 

So opposing teams recognize this, knowing that the Lobos will not feed the post players very much, so they can emphasize defense on the smaller guards. 

This offense must have more balance, and one feeds the other with an inside-out game because the other team can concentrate on one aspect only. 

Now, that’s expected for a team with so much guard play, but the guard must recognize when they are having an off night and feed the bigs. 

However, they have faced difficulties, including having shots blocked and struggling against the length of opposing teams. 

This challenge was anticipated, especially with a lineup featuring three shorter guards 6-foot-0 Jaelen House, 6-2 Donovan Dent, and 6-2 Jamal Mashburn Jr.

Dent highlighted the size disadvantage faced against UNLV’s wings, Luis Rodriguez (6-6) and Keylan Boone (6-8), which led to the Rebels securing offensive rebounds and easy baskets inside the paint.

The Lobos must return to “We Ball and not Me ball” and distribute the ball on assist instead of simply taking a jump shot with 10-12 seconds still on the shot clock. 

Their opponent, Nevada, holds a similar 19-5 overall record, with a conference standing of 6-4 in the Mountain West. 

Nevada comes off impressive victories against ranked opponents last week, triumphing over No. 22 Utah State on the road and defeating No. 24 San Diego State at home in overtime.

 Nick Davidson’s standout performances in these games earned him the Mountain West Player of the Week title and will be a big challenge for the lobos big man. 

New Mexico claimed victory in the first encounter between the teams this year, dominating with an 89-55 win on January 28 at The Pit, snapping Nevada’s nine-game winning streak in their head-to-head history.

 Jaelen House led UNM with 21 points, six assists, and six steals in that game. However, the Lobos have faced difficulties in Reno, losing six consecutive games since their last victory in the 2015-16 regular-season finale.

Despite playing poorly at times, the Lobos overcame a deficit and took the lead at halftime, ultimately losing the game by just three points. 

I expect this Lobo team to bounce back, understanding the significance of securing these two wins to prove their worth for this year’s NCAA tournament. 

With crunch time upon them, they must demonstrate their ability to secure crucial road victories, especially in obtaining a few significant Quad 1 wins.

 I firmly believe they will rise to the occasion; this team possesses abundant talent, good coaches, and a competitive will to win. 

As Steve Alford, in a podcast, told Geoff Grammer from the Albuquerque Journal, it’s not so much teams being inconsistent from game to game. Still, there are a lot of really good teams in the Mountain West Conference this year. 

Look at UNLV, who wins in the PIT but loses to Air Force, “It’s the teams that can probably show the maturity that can handle game to game, week to week are the ones that are going to surface to the top” 

“We have a lot of ball to play with four weeks and eight games; there’s a lot of ball to be played, so you have to be playing your best basketball now.” 

So the reality is as much as the Lobos have enjoyed the ride this year in the Mountain West Conference, it is time for them to show they belong at the upper tier in this conference.

 They must step up the game and play their best ball or risk being all flash and no fire; that is what champions are made of going strong when the going is tough. 

 The Lobos will conclude their road trip on Friday with a visit to San Diego State, with the game scheduled at 8:00 p.m. MT (7:00 p.m. PT) at Viejas Arena, airing on FS1.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire