New Mexico State (6-7) at Louisiana Tech (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 31, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas Assembly Center (8,000) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: Local. Home Record: NMSU 5-1, LaTech 5-0. Away Record: NMSU 1-5, LaTech 3-3. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-1, LaTech 2-0. Conference Record: NMSU 0-1, LaTech 1-0. Series Record: New Mexico State, leads 15-3.
GAME NOTES: The New Mexico State Aggies try to find the secret to winning on the road, as they close out the 2012 calendar year with a meeting against Louisiana Tech in Western Athletic Conference action at the Thomas Assembly Center on Monday night.
The Aggies kicked off conference play on Saturday against one of the newest members of the WAC, Texas-Arlington, and suffered a dismal 68-47 setback on the road. The loss was the third in the last four outings for a New Mexico State group which is just 1-5 in true road games this season.
As for the Bulldogs, they too began their WAC slate two days ago, but in their case they secured a 68-60 victory against Denver at home. The win was the second in a row and the third in four games for a LaTech group that is 10-3 overall, trailing only Utah State (10-1) for the best record among WAC programs.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Aggies are ahead by a commanding 15-3 margin according to Louisiana Tech sources. NMSU won all three meetings last season, which means the squad has now rattled off seven consecutive victories over the Bulldogs entering play on Monday.
NMSU went from shooting just 2-of-11 behind the 3-point line in the first half against UTA on Saturday to missing all seven chances on the outside after the break, en route to the 21-point loss on the road. Daniel Mullings tried to keep up hope as he tallied a game-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, but at the same time he was guilty of eight of the unit's 15 turnovers. Sim Bhullar responded with 14 points and six rebounds and also logged five blocked shots in the setback. Mullings leads the team in scoring with his 14.2 ppg, shooting an impressive 54.7 percent from the floor, but at the same time is averaging more than three turnovers per contest as well. The team as a whole has fumbled the ball away a staggering 212 times in 13 games, the opposition just a combined 154. However, the Aggies remain competitive thanks to a defense that has held opponents to 61.2 ppg stemming from 38.7 percent shooting from the floor and 28.8 percent out on the perimeter.
Raheem Appleby recorded a team-high 12 points as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs defeated the visiting Denver Pioneers by eight points in WAC action two days ago. Kenneth Smith and Kenyon McNeail scored 10 points each for the Bulldogs, as they remained undefeated at home over the course of five games this season. Michale Kyser scored eight points to go with eight rebounds and three blocked shots. The Bulldogs led by as many as 13 points in the second half, using 17 forced turnovers to help combat 16-of-25 shooting at the free-throw line. The leading scorer in eight games this season, Appleby checks in with 17.3 ppg to pace the group overall, while Smith (8.1 ppg) tends to focus more on his passing (67) than his own scoring these days. Outscoring the competition by more than nine points per game, the Bulldogs have taken advantage of the fact that those teams have missed a collective 97 free throws in 13 games.
Both of these teams have the potential to tighten up on defense, but for the time being it appears the Bulldogs have better options at the offensive end of the floor and that's what the team needs for victory on Monday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 69, New Mexico State 61
12/31 10:35:26 ET