Denver (11-7) at New Mexico State (12-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 23, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pan American Center (12,482) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Denver 8-2, NMSU 9-1. Away Record: Denver 3-5, NMSU 3-6. Neutral Record: Denver 0-0, NMSU 0-1. Conference Record: Denver 7-1, NMSU 6-2. Series Record: New Mexico State leads, 12-5.
GAME NOTES: Sporting a seven-game win streak, the Denver Pioneers hit the road on Wednesday night to do battle with the New Mexico State Aggies in Western Athletic Conference action at the Pan American Center.
Since losing to Louisiana Tech (68-60) in the conference opener back on Dec. 29, the team's first performance as a member of the WAC after making the move from the Sun Belt Conference, the Pioneers have been untouchable. Over the weekend, Denver took care of visiting Utah State in a 68-57 decision to move to 8-2 in their own building.
As for the Aggies, they too have had considerable success since the start of the new calendar year. In fact, they are one of the hottest teams in the WAC right now with six consecutive victories after opening league play with back- to-back defeats against Texas-Arlington and Louisiana Tech. Over the weekend, NMSU hosted San Jose State and crushed the Spartans in a 70-53 final.
In terms of the all-time series between these two teams, NMSU is ahead by a count of 12-5.
Except for Royce O'Neale who finished with seven points, every starter for the Pioneers landed in double figures against Utah State over the weekend, led by Brett Olson who tallied 18 points and four assists. Chase Hallam added 14, Chris Udofia 13 and Jalen Love 10 points for the hosts as they shot 56.5 percent from the floor and 10-of-19 behind the 3-point line, which made up for a mere 6-of-13 showing at the charity stripe. A 42.1 percent shooter on the perimeter for the Pioneers so far this season Olson, who was recently named the WAC's player of the week, checks in with 9.6 ppg for a squad that tends to put more emphasis on defense these days. While Udofia and O'Neale are both generating just over 12 points per contest, it is the defense that has made Denver so potent as it holds foes to just 54.7 ppg.
Two days after being held to a mere 37 points by Denver, the San Jose State Spartans found themselves pitted against New Mexico State and while the offense decided to show up this time, the result was still the same as the Aggies registered a 70-53 win at home in Las Cruces. Bandja Sy was responsible for 16 points and eight rebounds, followed by Daniel Mullings with 13 points and seven boards, while Tyrone Watson chipped in with 10 points as NMSU crushed the Spartans on the glass by a 46-24 margin. Despite playing guard, Mullings makes sure that he also lends a hand on the boards for the Aggies, resulting in 5.6 rpg which is a great addition to his 14.7 ppg, 52 assists and 44 steals. It wouldn't hurt for Mullings to also try his hand at some additional 3-point shooting since his 44.8 percent accuracy is far above the team's 29.0 percent at the moment.
The Denver defense has been punishing this year, but there has been only one other team that has made it out of the Pan American Center with a victory this season, so expect the Aggies to hold their ground on Wednesday night.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 63, Denver 60
01/23 10:33:52 ET