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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.
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?
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.
“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
|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)|