New Mexico State (17-8) at Utah State (13-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 11th, 3:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: D.G. Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: NMSU 10-3, USU 11-2. Away Record: NMSU 5-4, USU 2-10. Neutral Record: NMSU 2-1, USU 0-0. Conference Record: NMSU 6-3, USU 5-5. Series Record: Utah State leads, 35-28.
GAME NOTES: Needing to pick up the pace in the Western Athletic Conference in order not to fall to far behind league-leading Nevada, the New Mexico State Aggies head to Logan today where they will tangle with the Utah State Aggies.
Two nights ago, the Aggies of NMSU had a chance to run their win streak to four in a row, but instead the team suffered a narrow 59-58 loss at Idaho which means New Mexico State is now 6-3 in conference play and two games behind the Wolf Pack in the standings.
As for Utah State, it was able to weather a wild start to a matchup with Louisiana Tech on Thursday night in order to come up with a 77-63 victory. The win snapped a two-game slide by the program and boosted them to an even 5-5 in WAC action, although reaching the 20-win plateau again this season is going to be a stretch and will only happen if the squad has success in the conference tournament and a possible appearance in the postseason.
Utah State leads the all-time series by a 35-28 count, but it was NMSU that won the first meeting of the season last month in Las Cruces by a score of 80-60. Despite losing by such a large margin at the Pan American Center, USU should be encouraged by the fact that it has won five in a row in Logan versus the visiting Aggies.
Leading by as many as eight points with less than six minutes remaining on Thursday in Moscow, the NMSU Aggies went ice cold and were outscored down the stretch by a 10-1 Idaho run. Wendell McKines and Hamidu Rahman both tallied 12 points for the visitors, but while the former was able to clear nine rebounds and come up with three steals, he still shot just 5-of-16 from the floor. As a group, NMSU made good on a modest 42.9 percent from the field, but a disappointing 1-of-7 behind the three-point line. Surprisingly, the team also made just 9-of-15 at the free-throw line, an area of the game that has been such a huge part of their success this season. As a group, NMSU has made an astounding 522 of 786 opportunities at the charity stripe so far this season, both of those numbers leading all of Division I following play on Thursday. McKines, who is leading the squad with 18.0 ppg and 10.4 rpg, has accounted for 104 conversions at the charity stripe.
The first few minutes of the meeting with Louisiana Tech were fast and furious for the Aggies on Thursday night, but eventually they slowed down a bit and USU was able to gain control and eventually put up the 14-point win after outscoring the Bulldogs in the paint by a 42-20 margin. Preston Medlin finished with 22 points and Kyisean Reed 20 and nine rebounds as the squad finished the meeting with 55.6 percent shooting from the field and 6-of-13 accuracy behind the three-point line. Forcing just nine turnovers, the Aggies logged only one steal, an area that has not been a strength for USU whatsoever this season. In fact, after action on Thursday night, Utah State was last in the conference and one of the weakest in the entire nation with just 3.8 steals per outing. Medlin (15.4 ppg) and Brockeith Pane (12.2 ppg) have tried their best to get the team to be competitive in that area with a collective 41 thefts, but it still isn't nearly enough.
It used to be that visiting the D.G. Smith Spectrum was tough on the competition, but this season, even with USU putting up an 11-2 record in the building, it just doesn't seem as intimidating. If New Mexico State can block out all the distractions and handle business in the paint, the visitors could easily come out with the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 76, Utah State 71
02/11 10:38:01 ET