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Photo by R.Stevens
Photo by R.Stevens
Stevens: Lobos at Hostile SDSU for the MW Crown
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/07/2014

 


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New Mexico Lobos Mountain West Basketball – At San Diego State

No. 21 New Mexico (24-5, 15-2 MW) at No. 10 San Diego State (26-3, 15-2 MW)

When/Where: 8 p.m. (MT), Saturday – Viejas Arena

 On The Air:  CBS Sports Network; 770-AM KKOB/Lobo Radio Network

 GoLobos.com: Game Story, Statistics, Post-Game Interviews

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The question obviously caught Lobo Coach Craig Neal by surprise. His eyes got as wide as a basketball goal must be to a Cameron Bairstow jump shot.

Do you think your Lobos will have any trouble getting up for San Diego State?

Let’s answer that question for Neal.

A.     It’s San Diego State.
B.     The game is for the Mountain West Championship.
C.     It’s No. 10 ranked San Diego State.
D.    It’s for the No. 1 seed in the Mountain West Tournament.
E.     It’s Steve Fisher’s 26-3 San Diego State Aztecs.
F.     It’s for pride, respect, rings and probably NCAA seeding ramifications.

Did we mention it’s San Diego State.  Here’s another good way for Neal to get his troops up for the hard court tussle.  Knock on the doors to their hotel room and tell them they are about to go play San Diego State. That should do it.

“I don’t think I have to motivate them or give them a Knute Rockne speech,” said Neal. “I don’t think they need any rah-rah. You are playing for a championship.”

So, Coach Fisher, do you think your Aztecs will be up for the Lobos?

A.     It’s the Lobos.
B.     It’s for the Mountain West Championship.
C.     It’s the No. 21 Lobos who beat us by 14 in The Pit.
D.    It’s for the No. 1 seed in the MW tourney. We are angry. We are at home …etc., etc., etc.

Of course, you could go on and on but if the Lobos think just because they beat the Aztecs by 14 in The Pit that they are going to waltz into Viejas Arena and waltz out with an easy win – well, the Lobos might as well be thinking Coach Neal can part the Pacific and open a hiking trail to Hawaii.

It’s not that the Lobos aren’t capable of posting an easy win in Viejas.  They are.  But the Aztecs also are capable of pounding down the Lobos. The Aztecs are 14-1 at home.  And there is a good chance the Aztecs remember the scoreboard in The Pit and aren’t too happy with the memory.

Yeah, this one should be different and it should be the same.

You have to expect it will be different because the Aztecs are at home and most likely will play better than they did in The Pit.  It’s the same because this is a game of match ups, emotions, pressure, expectations and just about any quality you can package into a college basketball game.

In Albuquerque, the game probably meant more to the Lobos because they were trying to catch up to the Aztecs by not falling further behind.

On Saturday in Viejas, it’s a dead heat.  The Lobos are 15-2 and the Aztecs are 15-2. It will be one of those “Last Man Standing” type games.  Winner takes all.

 “We understand it’s a lot different playing them there then it is playing them here,” said UNM’s Cameron Bairstow.  “We realize how good they are as a team.  It’s going to be crazy in a lot of ways, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. At the same time, I think we are going to be very focused.”

The Aztecs are going to be very focused, too – and maybe particularly focused on Bairstow.  The 6-9 Bairstow crushed the Aztecs with 26 points and nine rebounds in The Pit.  The Aztecs couldn’t stop him.

And the best defense on the Bob King Floor was the one thrown out by the Lobos.  UNM shot 50 percent.  SDSU shot 32.3 percent.  Xavier Thames and JJ O’Brien combined to go 7-of-27 from the field. They didn’t reach double-digits in scoring.

The motivation for this game is going to be dripping from the rafters.

The Lobos come into Viejas aiming to take something the Aztecs want.  The Aztecs plan to take something the Lobos want.  And the rowdy SDSU student body will be there trying to make the moments miserable for the Lobos.

Perfect.

“It’s going to be a unique experience for us. It’s going to be a unique experience for them,” said Coach Neal. “We aren’t going to have 15,000 Pit fans there so it is going to be a little different. It’s going to be a tough environment.”

Said Kendall Williams: “It’s the last game of conference, at their place, for the championship. We’re going into a hostile environment and that will keep us going the whole time.”

The Lobos strategy for SDSU is simple enough.  Dominate inside with Bairstow and 7-foot Alex Kirk.  Let Williams control the perimeter and the SDSU press. Hang with the Aztecs on the boards and don’t let them get second chances.  Don’t let Thames score in transition. Don’t let the Aztecs spark their crowd with steals and dunks. Try to slow down Thames and O’Brien and make other Aztecs beat you.  Make the Aztecs shoot jumpers and not layups. Take care of the ball.

Pretty much, the Aztecs want to reverse all that stuff.   If there is such a thing as a "Viejas Classic," this is it.

New Mexico Lobos Basketball 2013-14 Roster

No. Sort by Number
Name Sort by Name
Pos. Sort by Position
Ht. Sort by Height
Wt. Sort by Weight
Yr. Sort by Eligibility Year
Exp. Sort by Years Experience
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)
Wednesday, December 31
5:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
vs. Fresno State
Saturday, January 03
6:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
vs. Colorado State (Alumni Day)
Tuesday, January 06
9:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
at San Diego State
Saturday, January 10
7:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
at Utah State
Wednesday, January 14
7:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
vs. Air Force
Sunday, January 18
4:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
vs. Boise State
Wednesday, January 21
9:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
at UNLV
Saturday, January 24
8:00 PM - 
Men's Basketball
at Wyoming
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