Nevada-New Mexico Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 01, 2013
New Mexico was humbled for one game, with an atrocious offensive performance leading to its first conference loss. But the Lobos bounced back with a gritty road win to maintain control atop the Mountain West Conference standings and now have a chance to keep rolling. They appear to be on the right side of a mismatch on Saturday when they host Nevada, the conference's worst road squad with a 2-6 record away from home. Conversely, New Mexico is 10-1 at home this season and 35-7 at The Pit in conference play in six years under coach Steve Alford. The 20th-ranked Lobos (18-3, 5-1) shot just 25.0 percent in a 55-34 loss at San Diego State on Jan. 26 - their fewest points scored since 1976. They rebounded to shoot 48.1 percent in a 63-59 win at Wyoming on Wednesday, when Cameron Bairstow scored a season-high 17 points. Hugh Greenwood proved to be New Mexico's closer, hitting a jumper with 8 seconds left and draining two free throws moments later after a Wyoming turnover. "We did have that swagger," said Greenwood, a 6-foot-3 guard who had 13 points and tied a career high with 10 rebounds. "We're still 20th in the country and we've got guys who can really score and really defend and really play this game. You always have to be confident. We took a hit, but to come out here and get a win and respond is really what this thing's all about." Greenwood is only New Mexico's fifth-leading scorer with 7.4 points per game, but the performance against Wyoming was an important one. The sophomore was 12 of 34 from the floor (35.3 percent) over his first five conference games before going 5 for 6 against the Cowboys. "Hugh Greenwood has made big shot after big shot," Alford said. "Hugh's had games where he's not made anything and yet in the last five minutes he'll come up with the big shot or the big free throw and today I thought he was really good throughout." New Mexico will hope to heat up from long range, as the Lobos are 5 of 25 from 3-point range over their last two games. They're hitting 33.3 percent of their 3-point tries overall. Second-leading scorer Tony Snell (12.0 ppg) is also mired in a mini-slump, hitting 5 of 17 shots from the field in his last two contests with 13 points. Nevada (11-9, 2-4) owns the conference's worst defense, yielding 69.9 points per game. After a 66-54 loss at UNLV on Tuesday, the Wolf Pack have lost five of seven since winning five in a row. Top scorer Deonte Burton (16.5 ppg) has elevated his play in conference, where he's averaging 18.2 ppg. Meanwhile, Malik Story - averaging 15.5 points on the season while shooting 39.3 percent - is struggling in the Mountain West, averaging 12.5 ppg on 31.8 percent shooting. Nevada's scoring as a whole has also seen a dip, from 72.4 points per game in non-conference play to 61.2 in Mountain West play. Saturday marks the schools' first meeting.
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