New Mexico State (6-6) at Texas-Arlington (5-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: College Park Center (7,000) -- Arlington, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: NMSU 5-1, UTA 1-1. Away Record: NMSU 1-4, UTA 4-2. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-0, UTA 0-0. Conference Record: NMSU 0-0, UTA 0-0. Series Record: NMSU leads, 10-1.
GAME NOTES: The New Mexico State Aggies will visit the College Park Center to open their Western Athletic Conference schedule against the Texas-Arlington Mavericks tonight.
New Mexico State is opening WAC play on the road for the third straight year. The defending conference champion Aggies snapped a two-game slide in their final non-league tuneup, notching a 71-51 home win over Missouri State last Saturday. They'll visit Ruson, Louisiana on Monday to take on Louisiana Tech in a rematch of last season's WAC title game.
UT-Arlington has been idle since a lopsided 69-44 loss at No. 22 Oklahoma State on Dec. 19. The Mavericks had won four of their previous five contests before that loss, and they'll be looking to get back on track tonight in front of the home crowd. This will be only the third home game of the season for the Mavs, who are opening a four-game homestand.
The Aggies have won 10 of 11 meetings in the all-time series, although this is the first meeting between these two teams since the 2004-05 season. The Mavs won the last meeting, 88-67, Nov. 24, 2004 in Las Cruces.
The Aggies turned to their freshman center to beat Missouri State, and Sim Bhullar came through with a career-high 25 points. Sophomore Daniel Mullings chipped in with his eighth double-digit scoring game of the season, finishing with 11 points. NMSU overwhelmed the Bears with a 54.2-percent shooting effort from the floor, while holding Missouri State to 33.3-percent shooting. The Aggies also enjoyed a 37-30 rebounding advantage, marking the ninth time this season they have out-rebounded their opponent. Their +7.8 rebounding margin ranks 31st in the country entering the weekend. The Aggies have also excelled at perimeter defense, as they lead the WAC in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.285) and rank second in field goal percentage defense (.382). Mullings (13.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) ranks first in the league in field goal percentage (.635) and sixth in blocked shots (1.33 per game).
UT-Arlington also hangs its hat on playing swarming defense, as the team has limited foes to 34.7-percent shooting and 59.6 points per game. Foes are shooting at a 29.6-percent clip from the perimeter against the Mavs. Jordan Reves is averaging a double-double with 10.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per tilt. He is shooting 51.6 percent from the floor while also averaging 2.4 blocks on the defensive end. However, he is also the team's only player averaging double figures in the scoring column. Against Oklahoma State in their last outing, the Mavs shot just 39.1 percent as a team and made only 1- of-5 free throws for the game. More importantly, they committed an astonishing 31 turnovers to go along with only six assists. Simply put, that type of ratio won't win many games at any level, let alone one the road against a nationally-ranked team.
This game may very well be decided by whichever team can get to 60 points. Although they are playing on the road, the Aggies have a slight advantage thanks to their size.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 58, Texas-Arlington 54
12/29 10:35:40 ET