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Stevens: Lobos Need To Quiet Boise State Shooters
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/20/2014

New Mexico Lobos Basketball – In The Pit – Mountain West Conference

Who/When: 7:15 p.m. (MT), Tuesday – Boise State (13-5, 3-2 MW) at  New Mexico (13-4, 4-1)

On TV: CBS Sports Network (Dish 158, DirecTV 221, Comcast 274/838 HD).

 On The Radio: 770-AM KKOB/Lobo Radio Network; ESPN Deportes (1450-AM, 105.9-FM)

GoLobos.com:  Game Story, Statistics, Quotes, Video Interviews

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.

Before the basketballs starting going up, there were a several teams projected to win the Mountain West Race.

New Mexico was one of them.  So was Boise State.

The reason a few prognosticators gave Boise the nod over New Mexico was because the Broncos returned all five starters and arguably had the best one-two guard punch in the MW when it came to scoring.

That punch still looks pretty potent.  Anthony Drmic will bring an 18.6 scoring average into The Pit Tuesday night and Derrick Marks averages 15.7 points.  This duo gets some outside help from Jeff Elorriaga with a 9.4 average.

Obviously, the Broncos need to score from the outside and they do it well. They average 79.2 points per game and shoot 46 percent from the floor. They carry a 3-2 Mountain West mark into The Pit and thanks to a home defeat slapped out by Wyoming, the Broncos need a major breakthrough on the road.

They might need something else to upset the Lobos in The Pit – an inside game.

The Broncos have talent in the paint in Ryan Watkins, who averages 10.6 points and 9.7 boards.  He’s a fighter. Watkins is only 6-foot-9 which isn’t that small however when you have 6-9 Cameron Bairstow and 7-foot Alex Kirk in the lane for New Mexico, it helps to have a few more big bodies.

Boise is not big.

Drmic, at 6-6, often will guard a big forward and he is mobile enough to go outside with Bairstow. But can Drmic’s 190-pound frame stop Bairstow from dribble penetration?  Not many defenders can stop Bairstow.

Boise likes to get up and down the court and shoot in transition and the quick Watkins is good in this style.  But if Boise had a fault last season it was defense and scoring in the paint.  The Broncos went 2-6 on the MW road last year.

When the Broncos shoot well, take care of the ball, and hang with teams on the boards, they are dangerous.  They lost 69-66 at San Diego State.  The Broncos do a nice good mixing up jumpers and dribble penetration and they have shot 426 free throws to 352 for their opponents.  They shoot 76 percent from the line and .382 percent behind the 3-point line.

Their perimeter ability makes them a good defensive team on the edge.  Their size inside probably entices teams to lob the ball into the big man.  The Lobos have two outstanding big men.

Bairstow brings a 20.5 point average into the Boise game and Kirk is at 13.9 with a 9.3 board average.  Kendall Williams is averaging 17.8 points as a jump shooter and a slasher.  Cullen Neal is averaging a respectable 8.2 points. Williams dishes out 5.1 assists per game.

The game might represent a chance for Boise State to make up for their Idaho loss to Wyoming, but it’s an important game for New Mexico, too.  The Lobos have a home loss to UNLV and the Lobos’ 4-1 league mark has them chasing 5-0 San Diego State.

“You have to win at home,” said Lobo Coach Craig Neal.  “We have a lot of respect for Boise State. They present a lot of problems and they are a challenge we need to meet with 40 minutes of solid basketball.”

Another key for Boise State is keeping Watkins on the floor.  He is their primary weapon inside and their best inside defender. His 9.6 board average helps the Broncos get out and run. The Broncos need Watkins to avoid early fouls.

Drmic, a junior, led Boise State in scoring as a freshman and as a sophomore.  He could become only the second Bronco to lead the team in scoring in all four years.  Drmic and Marks were both All-MW Second Team picks a year ago. The Broncos have five perimeter guns shooting 44 percent or better.

New Mexico and Nevada carry 4-1 marks into this week’s games. Boise State, at 3-2, handed Nevada its first league defeat. Wyoming (2-2) is the only other MW teams with only two blemishes in the loss column. There are only two MW teams with losing records overall: Fresno State at 8-11 and San Jose State at 6-12.

The Broncos are the only team from the 2013 NCAA Tournament to return all five starters.  The Lobos, minus Tony Snell, return four.  The Broncos have scored as many as 116 points this season and hit a 50-point low vs. Wyoming.

The Broncos were named by a few prognosticators to climb to the top of the Mountain ahead of New Mexico because Boise State returns five starters.  UNM returns four.

It’s easy to get high on the Broncos when you look at their guard combo of Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks.   Drmic is scoring at a 19.5 clip and Marks has a 16.3 average. This is the top scoring guard combo in the league heading into MW play.  They also share the No. 1 spot in MW stats in steals.

The play of Drmic and Marks opens up the edge for Jeff Elorriaga, who tops the MW in 3-pointers made.  He is 39-of-68 for a .574 percentage and averages 11.4 points per game.

The Broncos were expected to be strong on the perimeter, but need to produce – and defend – inside in order to challenge for the 2014 MW title. Boise went 2-6 on the MW road last year and a lot of that had to do with modest inside play. 

Again, that’s the key.  The Broncos have shooters.  Do they have enough board pounders and paint defense?  The 6-foot-9 Ryan Watkins tops Boise in rebounding with a solid 8.6 average. He doesn’t have much help inside.


 

 New Mexico Lobos 2013-2014 Season Roster  

No.

 

Name

 

Pos.

 

Ht.

 

Wt.

 

Yr.

 

Exp.

 

Hometown (Prev School)

1  

Cleveland Thomas

G

6-3

195

So.

1L

Baton Rouge, La. (Scotlandville Magnet HS)

2  

Chris Perez

G

6-0

190

Sr.

SQ

Corona, Calif. (Centennial HS)

3  

Hugh Greenwood

G

6-3

205

Jr.

2L

Hobart, Australia (Australian Institute of Sport)

5  

Arthur Edwards

G

6-6

205

So.

JC

Temple Hills, Md. (National Christian Academy)

10  

Kendall Williams

G

6-4

180

Sr.

3L

Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (Los Osos)

11  

Obij Aget

C

7-1

225

Fr.

HS

La Porte, Ind. (La Lumiere HS)

12  

Devon Williams

F/G

6-7

205

RFr.

RS

Dallas, Texas (Woodrow Wilson HS)

13  

Cullen Neal

G

6-4

180

Fr.

HS

Albuquerque, N.M. (Eldorado HS)

22  

Merv Lindsay

F

6-7

205

RSo.

TR

Moreno Valley, Calif. (Canyon Springs HS)

23  

Nick Banyard

F

6-8

205

So.

1L

Flower Mound, Texas (Marcus HS)

24  

Tim Myles

F

6-6

225

Fr.

HS

Etiwanda, Calif. (Etiwanda HS)

33  

Deshawn Delaney

G

6-5

190

Jr.

JC

Chicago, Ill (Vincennes JC) (Carver Military)

41  

Cameron Bairstow

F

6-9

250

Sr.

3L

Brisbane, Australia (Australian Institute of Sport)

53  

Alex Kirk

C

7-0

245

RJr.

2L

Los Alamos, N.M. (Los Alamos)

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