Fresno, CA – The two teams at opposite ends of the Mountain West Conference standings are set to face off against each other Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center, as the Fresno State Bulldogs host the 19th- ranked New Mexico Lobos.
The Lobos are hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats when they take the floor in the Golden State after losing to UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center over the weekend, 64-55. The defeat snapped a three-game win streak by UNM, which is currently alone in first place in the MWC at 7-2.
As for the Bulldogs, they have won just two of their nine league outings, the last of those coming in an upset decision versus UNLV last week, 64-55. Over the weekend, FSU returned to form with a 75-53 loss at San Diego State, just the latest California-based program to bow to the Aztecs. With the defeat, the Bulldogs are now 1-5 in the last six games.
The Lobos lead the all-time series with Fresno State by a count of 9-7, thanks to a 72-45 blowout win in the first meeting last month in The Pit. However, when it comes to playing in Fresno the Bulldogs are ahead, 7-1.
Shooting just 30.0 percent from the floor, including 2-of-12 behind the 3- point line in the first half, the Lobos dug themselves a deep hole at the break against UNLV and never recovered. Alex Kirk tried to give the visitors a fighting chance with his 17 points and game-high 16 rebounds, while Cameron Bairstow accounted for another 13 points and six boards, but the team still made just 33.9 percent from the floor and a disappointing 9-of-18 at the charity stripe.
In conference games, the Lobos are scoring just 65.6 ppg, yet that is still better than the competition which is putting up only 59.8 ppg. Those league foes have shot just 39.1 percent from the floor and 64.2 percent at the charity stripe, but just like those teams, UNM is leaving far too many unrealized points at the line (.668). Offensively, the team follows Tony Snell (12.6 ppg), Kirk (11.6 ppg) and Kendall Williams (10.3 ppg, the latter leading the group with 37 assists over his eight conference games.
Coming off their upset win of UNLV a few days earlier, the Bulldogs were knocked back down when the San Diego State Aztecs held the visitors to only 29.3 percent shooting from the floor, including 4-of-19 beyond the arc in the 22-point road loss. Tyler Johnson accounted for 14 points and eight rebounds, Braeden Anderson 12 points and Marvelle Harris 11 off the bench. Kevin Olekaibe, who had recently been contributing on offense, shot just 1-of-8 from the floor en route to his three points.
By no means a high-scoring offense, the Bulldogs are generating just 57.1 ppg in league play, but at least the defense has done a decent job by limiting the opposition to 64.6 ppg. Tyler Johnson, who is shooting 40 percent beyond the arc, leads the way with his 14.4 ppg, followed by Kevin Foster who checks in with 9.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg, but he has yet to issue a single assist against a league foe.