The University of Nevada Men’s Basketball team will put their current two-game winning streak on the line Tuesday evening, as they will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to face New Mexico in a rematch after the Pack defeated the Lobos in a double overtime thriller two weeks ago.
Nevada owns a perfect record of 7-0 against New Mexico under the leadership of Head Coach Steve Alford, as he is yet to lose against his former team.
Nevada earned back-to-back victories over #22 San Diego State and Air Force this past week, as they will look to carry the momentum over into Tuesday’s road contest.
The Pack earned a 97-74 victory over the Lobos in the first meeting of the regular season between the two squads on January 23.
Will Baker had one of the best performances of his career in the first matchup, scoring a career-high 28 points on 12-17 shooting from the field, while also pulling down five rebounds.
Jarod Lucas had a strong performance on the offensive end of the floor in the first contest against New Mexico, scoring 22 points, while knocking down three shots from behind the arc.
Kenan Blackshear also managed to reach double figures in scoring against the Lobos earlier this season, scoring 20 points on 8-13 shooting from the field and 4-5 at the free throw line. Blackshear had a stellar all-around game, as the senior guard also dished out four assists and tallied five steals.
Freshman forward Darrion Williams had a sensational outing in the first victory over New Mexico, recording the first double-double of his career by scoring 13 points and pulling down a career-high 13 rebounds. Williams also tallied three blocks and one steal in the game.
Junior forward Tre Coleman set a new career-high by dishing out nine assists in the first tilt with the Lobos. Coleman also scored seven points, pulled down four rebounds, and recorded three steals and three blocks apiece.
Nevada enters Tuesday night’s showdown coming off of a dominant victory over Air Force, in which they outscored the Falcons 41-24 in the second half, propelling the Pack to a 72-52 victory.
Jarod Lucas was exceptional throughout the game, scoring 19 points on 5-11 shooting from the field, 3-7 from behind the arc, and 6-6 at the free throw line, in addition to pulling down five rebounds. Lucas did the majority of his work over the final 20 minutes, scoring 14 points on 4-6 shooting from the field, 2-4 from behind the arc, and 4-4 at the free throw line in the second period alone. The senior guard finished the contest with a plus/minus of +18 in 32 minutes of action.
Lucas was named the Mountain West Player of the Week on Monday morning for his outstanding play in Nevada’s wins over Air Force and #22 San Diego State last week.
Lucas has scored in double figures in an incredible 22 straight contests and in 23 of 24 games this season. He ranks in the top-three of the Mountain West in a multitude of offensive categories this season. Lucas is currently second in the conference in total points scored (418 points), second in free throw percentage (85.2%), second in minutes per game (34.7 MPG), tied for second in made 3-pointers (63), third in points per game (17.4 PPG), and third in 3-point field goal percentage (38.4%), as he has been lethal on the offensive end of the court all year.
Will Baker had another impressive showing in the Pack’s victory over Air Force, scoring 17 points on a highly efficient 8-10 shooting from the field, in addition to pulling down a game-high eight rebounds. He has now led Nevada in rebounding in each of the Pack’s past three games.
Baker currently ranks third in the Mountain West in field goal percentage (56.0%), fourth in free throw percentage (84.4%), 15th in points per game (13.5 PPG), and 16th in rebounds per game (5.3 RPG).
Kenan Blackshear turned in another strong all-around showing for the Pack against Air Force, scoring 10 points, while pulling down four rebounds and tallying four assists. He logged 36 minutes of playing time and finished the contest with a game-high plus/minus of +23.
Blackshear has scored in double figures in 15 straight games, and in 21 of 24 contests this season. The senior guard has also dished out at least three assists in all but two games for the Pack.
Blackshear ranks in the top-15 of the Mountain West in an abundance of statistical categories this year. He is second in the league in both total assists (113) and assists per game (4.7 APG), while ranking fourth in steals per game (1.7 SPG), eighth in points per game (14.8 PPG), eighth in field goal percentage (45.5%), eighth in free throw percentage (79.7%), and ninth in minutes per game (32.8 MPG).
Darrion Williams had another stat-stuffing night against Air Force, as the freshman scored five points, pulled down six rebounds, and dished out a game-high and new career-high seven assists in the contest. Williams also tallied one steal, and he finished the game with a stellar plus/minus of +22.
Williams continues to lead Nevada in rebounding, and he ranks sixth overall in the Mountain West in rebounds per game (7.2 RPG). Williams also ranks ninth in the league in steals per game, as the freshman is recording 1.5 steals per contest.
After recording seven blocks over Nevada’s past three games, Tre Coleman has moved into the top-10 of the Mountain West in blocks per game, as the junior forward, known for his sensational defense is now recording 0.92 blocks per contest.
As a team, Nevada continues to rank at the top of the country in free throw shooting. Nevada is fifth in the nation in free throw percentage (79.4%), while ranking sixth in the country in made free throws and 22nd in attempts.
The Pack had an exceptional defensive outing against the Falcons, limiting Air Force to just 52 points on 42.2 percent shooting from the field. Nevada ranks in the top-five of the Mountain West in an abundance of defensive statistical categories. The Pack enters
Tuesday’s game ranked third in opponent field goal percentage (41.6%), third in turnovers forced (314), fourth in steals per game (6.2), fourth in defensive rebounding (26.4 per game), fifth in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (33.6%), and fifth in opponent points per game (66.1 PPG).
The Pack also owns one of the most efficient offenses in the conference, as they currently rank first in least number of turnovers this season, as they have done a phenomenal job of limiting turnovers throughout the season.
Nevada faces one of its most difficult challenges yet on Tuesday, as they will take a New Mexico team that owns the highest scoring offense in the conference, while also maintaining a stingy defense that forces a lot of turnovers in arguably one of the most hostile environments in the country.
Scouting New Mexico
New Mexico owns an impressive record of 19-4 overall this season, including a mark of 6-4 in Mountain West play.
The Lobos rank first in the conference in scoring, as their fast-paced offense is averaging 82.0 points per game this season.
The Lobos have been highly efficient on offense, as they also rank first in the Mountain West in field goal percentage, holding a clip of 49.1 percent shooting from the field from the field this season.
New Mexico’s defense has been nearly as impressive as their offense, as they rank fourth in the league in both opponent field goal percentage (42.3%) and opponent 3-point field goal percentage (30.3%). The Lobos are also second in the conference in blocks per game (4.2 BPG) and third in steals per contest (7.1 SPG).
New Mexico has been exceptional on the glass this season, as they rank first in the Mountain West in rebounding (38.7 RPG) and second in rebounding margin (+4.9).
Individually, New Mexico is led by one of the best backcourt duos in the country in Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House.
Mashburn Jr. leads the Mountain West in scoring, pouring in 19.4 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. He scored a game-high 33 points in the first contest between Nevada and New Mexico.
House has been equally as impressive as Mashburn this season, as he ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 17.3 points per game on 46.0 percent shooting from the field and 39.0 percent shooting from behind the arc. House also leads the team and ranks third in the conference in assists, averaging 4.7 per game. He is known as a feisty defender, and he leads the Mountain West and ranks second in the nation in steals per game, recording 2.8 per contest.
Morris Udeze has been a strong piece in the frontcourt for the Lobos, as he leads the team and the Mountain West in rebounding, averaging 8.7 boards per game. Udeze is also putting up 15.7 points per game on 59.0 percent shooting from the field.
The trio of Mashburn, House, and Udeze account for 63.9 percent of New Mexico’s total offense this season.
As strong as the Lobos have been on offense, they have struggled shooting from behind the arc at times, and they can be susceptible to turning the ball over, as they rank seventh in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (35.0%), and fifth in most turnovers this season (279 turnovers).
Nevada will seek to slow down the pace of the game, limit the production of New Mexico’s big three, and have one of their best defensive outings of the season in order to secure the massive road win over the Lobos.
Nevada and New Mexico have faced off 20 times throughout history, with the Pack owning a 13-7 advantage in the all-time series. Nevada is currently on an eight-game winning streak over the Lobos.