New Mexico vs. San Diego State: How Lobos Can Defeat Aztecs

New Mexico vs. San Diego State: How Lobos Can Defeat Aztecs

Huge game on broadcast on TV

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Lobos hosting Aztecs in a huge game

On Saturday, the 19th-ranked San Diego State encounters a challenging assignment as it travels to Albuquerque, N.M., to take on New Mexico Lobos in the infamous PIT.

The San Diego State Aztecs (14-2, 3-0 MWC) are seeking to prolong their seven-game winning streak as they face the New Mexico Lobos (13-3, 1-2 MWC) at 2:00 PM ET on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at The Pit.

The Aztecs (14-2, 3-0 MWC) have won seven in a row; however, they know the Lobos (13-3, 1-2) are dangerous opponents at home who need a good Quad 1 victory.  

The Saturday matchup will be broadcast on CBS to a national prime-time audience, promising an exciting game from both the Lobos and Aztecs. 

When these two rivals play at the PIT in Albuquerque or Viejas Arena in San Diego, prepare for the fireworks like a pair of prize fighters exchanging punches.  

UNM Athletics announced a sold-out status for the upcoming game against No. 19 San Diego State, enhancing the spectacle with a planned red and white “stripe out” inside the Pit.

There is no doubt that this Lobo team is one of the more talented Lobo teams this writer has seen in a few years to wear the cherry & silver Lobo uniforms.  

They are a legitimate top FBS team on paper but have struggled at times, especially with the energy levels or slow starts in the second half of the game. 

  • Matchup: New Mexico Lobos (13-3) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (14-2)

  • Date/Time: Saturday, January 13 at 2:00 PM ET

  • Location: The PIT in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Yes, they are 13-3, 1-2 in the MWC, but the games they have lost have all been pretty much the same recipe: start strong in the first half, start weak in the second half, get behind, and try to catch up before the clock runs out. 

The Lobos must have the “come to Jesus moment” to realize how good they can be when playing smart, fundamentally sound basketball. 

They have got to find a way to find consistent scoring at the three-point line, and Coach Pitino said in today’s presser, “There is no way to win games if you can’t score from the three-point game in this day and age.” 

By this time next week, following their matchups against SDSU and Utah State, we should gather ample evidence to form a conclusive judgment on how good this team is. 

The Lobos pulling the upset in the next two games would be huge for this team and their confidence going forward for the rest of the season. 

I think no team has this much talent, especially at the three-guard spot in the Mountain West Conference. 

We are talking about hitting free throws and taking and scoring more three-point shots, and their big man must play sound defense; the leaders on this team must step up! 

They must play sound fundamental basketball with many good teams in this conference to win games, especially on the road. 

Their big Nelly Junion Joseph, at 6-10 240 pounds, must put his mean socks on and play more intensely and physically, especially against the Aztecs, or it could get ugly. 

While Lobo fans have relished Jaelen House‘s vibrant and animated presence and personality, he must maintain emotional composure, particularly in critical moments when his team relies on him to give his team a fighting chance to win big games. 

Local beat writer Geoff Grammer for the Albuquerque Journal reported, “For 15 seasons, UNM has declared a sellout 31 times, with seven sellouts occurring during nonconference matchups and 24 in Mountain West play.

Notably, among all opposing teams, none have drawn more sold-out crowds to the Pit than UNM’s in conference rival San Diego State, surpassing even in-state rival New Mexico State University.”

CBS will broadcast the game at noon local time, marking the season’s second sellout after the December 2 victory against in-state rival New Mexico State. 

This game, being televised in front of a national audience on CBS, promises to be one thunderous, excellent basketball game in the infamous PIT. 

The Aztecs, with a formidable record of 14-2 (3-0 Mountain West) and a presence in April’s national title game, bring standout players like All-America candidate forward Jaedon LeDee and guard LaMont Butler, known for breaking Lobo fans’ hearts with a buzzer-beater last February and repeating the feat in the Final Four against Florida Atlantic.

After last week’s Aztec win against UNLV: “It’s all the difference,” LeDee said. “At this level, everybody can shoot, everybody has skill, everybody gameplans. 

It’s about who wants it the most, who’s willing to go out there and do what it takes. That’s kind of what our identity is. 

Whether it’s last year’s team or this year’s team, it doesn’t matter what team it is; we’re going to be tough, and we’re going to compete.”

So you can see what the Aztecs want their identity to be, and this is where the Lobos must match this mindset with tough, physical, smart play in the PIT to beat them. 

You are coming to our House (no pun intended), the PIT, and we are a darn good team that belongs with the upper tear Mountain West teams this year! 

You can bet that the Lobos have not forgotten last year’s game, losing at a last-second shot to Lamont Butler and seeking revenge on one of their rivals in the MWC. 

With a current record of 13-3 (1-2), the Lobos aim to bounce back from a recent road loss at UNLV and defend their undefeated 8-0 home court performance this season.

New Mexico has achieved a 9-5-0 record against the spread this season, while San Diego State stands at 6-7-0. 

Five of the Lobos’ games surpassed the point total, whereas seven of the Aztecs’ games exceeded it.

 New Mexico boasts a 7-3 against the spread in the last ten games and an 8-2 overall record. San Diego State has a 5-5 against the spread and a 9-1 overall performance.

Six of the Lobos’ games this season have exceeded the point total, whereas eight of the Aztecs’ games have done the same. 

New Mexico boasts a 7-3 record against the spread in their last ten games and an 8-2 overall record. San Diego State has a 4-6 record against the spread and a 9-1 overall record.

New Mexico Key Players to Watch

Donovan Dent leads the Lobos in both points and assists per game, showcasing impressive stats of 15.7 points and 6.1 assists.

Nelly Junior Joseph dominates the rebounding category for New Mexico, securing an average of 7.8 boards per game while also contributing 8.8 points to each contest.

Jemarl Baker Jr. leads the Lobos in three-point shooting, averaging 1.4 shots from beyond the arc per game.

Dent stands out as the leader for New Mexico in the steals department, averaging 1.7 takeaways per game. Meanwhile, JT Toppin takes the lead in blocks, recording an average of 1.5 rejections per contest.

JT Toppin averages 12.5 points, 0.6 assists, and 7.6 rebounds in each game. Nelly Junior Joseph leads the Lobos with 7.8 rebounds per game, contributing 1.3 assists and 8.8 points.

Without question, Lobo Guard Jaelen House is the emotional sparkplug for this team this year. 

If House stays out of foul trouble and stays focused on helping lead this team, the Lobos will get upset, and if he gets into foul trouble, it will spell trouble for him sitting on the bench.  

Jaelen House scored 29 points in last season’s win in San Diego, and Jamal Mashburn Jr. had 22. They also combined for 35 points in the loss to the visiting Aztecs.

San Diego State Key Players to Watch

Jaedon LeDee stands as the Aztecs’ leading scorer, averaging 22.0 points per game (ranking fifth in college basketball), and is also their top rebounder with 8.8 rebounds. LeDee contributes 1.5 assists per game.

Micah Parrish contributes 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game for the Aztecs.

Reese Waters maintains a stat line of 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. He showcases impressive shooting accuracy, making 44.2% of his field goals and 42.1% from 3-point range while averaging 1.5 triples per game.

Lamont Butler leads the San Diego State team in assists, averaging 3.3 per game. Additionally, he contributes an average of 8.4 points and secures 1.8 rebounds per game.

On December 29, San Diego State secured its most notable victory of the season with an 84-74 road win against the No. 23 Gonzaga Bulldogs.

 Reese Waters emerged as the leading scorer in the game, contributing 22 points, five rebounds, and two assists.

Micah Parrish tops San Diego State in steals, recording an average of 1.6 per game, while Jay Pal leads in blocks with an average of 0.7 per game.

For fans tuning in to this prime-time national game, the spectacle promises to exceed the value of admission or the ticket price. 

While UNM aims for the upset, it’s clear that overcoming this highly skilled Aztec team will require a collective effort. The well-coached Aztecs, known for their resilience, don’t back down when facing opponents, as evident in their gameplay.

This would be a tremendous quad-one win for UNM, and boy, do they need it if they have any hopes of advancing in the NCAA tournament; it’s all about winning from here on out. 


Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire