New Mexico (13-1) at Saint Louis (9-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 31, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chaifetz Arena (10,600) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: UNM 7-1, SLU 8-1. Away Record: UNM 3-0, SLU 0-1. Neutral Record: UNM 3-0, SLU 1-1. Conference Record: UNM 0-0, SLU 0-0. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: Winners of eight of nine games at home this season, the Saint Louis Billikens welcome the New Mexico Lobos to Chaifetz Arena for the final game of the 2012 calendar year on Monday evening.
Saint Louis, which has played exclusively at home for this entire month and has dates against Savannah State and UMass ready to kick off the new year in this building as well, could go undefeated in December if this game falls the right way. The Billikens have put together six straight victories and seven in the last eight games overall, thanks partly to a 68-41 thrashing of SIU- Edwardsville last Friday.
As for the Lobos, a team which began the campaign as one of three schools in the Mountain West Conference that was nationally ranked, they were stunned by South Dakota State at home in The Pit three days before Christmas, 70-65, marking their first loss of the season.
New Mexico was bounced out of the national ranking following its first defeat, but then the team returned the favor against eighth-ranked Cincinnati last Thursday on the road, 55-54, which means the squad could be back among the Top-25 when this game tips off.
The Lobos lead the all-time series with SLU by a count of 3-2, thanks to a 64-60 victory in the most recent meeting on New Year's Eve last season in The Pit.
Scoring just 22 points in the first half, the poorest effort of the season thus far, the Lobos were lucky to be trailing by just four points at the break against an undefeated Cincinnati squad. In the second half, UNM survived just 3-of-8 at the free-throw line in order to slip by with the one-point road win. Kendall Williams tallied a game-high 16 points, Alex Kirk delivered 15 points, seven boards and three blocked shots, followed by Tony Snell with 10 points in the close call. For the second straight game and the fifth time this season New Mexico was held below 40 percent shooting from the floor and instead of dominating at the free-throw line the group was just 6-of-11 at the charity stripe. Williams, who has camped out at the line early on this season, converting 74-of-89 (.831), not only leads the team in scoring with 14.9 ppg, he is also tops with 66 assists and 17 steals, demonstrating that he's willing to do whatever it takes to get this team into the win column.
The Billikens scored the first points of the game against SIUE and never looked back as the defense for SLU dominated the visitors for a full 40 minutes. SIUE made a total of just six field goals in the first half, 15 for the game which was one less than the team had turnovers. Mike McCall dropped in a game-high 16 points for the hosts, followed by Dwayne Evans who tallied 14 points, while Cory Remekun responded with six points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Billikens as well. The leading scorer for the program in each of the last three outings, McCall is coming up with a respectable 11.8 ppg which is second only to Evans with his 12.3 ppg, to go along with a team-best 6.7 rpg. Coming off the bench exclusively, Cody Ellis gives the group a spark with his 10.6 ppg, although his mere 33.0 percent shooting form the floor still leaves a lot to be desired.
One of the top defensive teams in the country once again, the Billikens are holding the competition to just 55.4 ppg and if they are able to dictate the pace of this meeting it will certainly be a very interesting one to close out 2012.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 57, New Mexico 53
12/31 10:40:11 ET