Men: New Mexico at Fresno State
Thursday, 9 P.M., Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif. TV: CBS Sports Network (Comcast 274; DirecTV 221; Dish 158); Streaming: themw.com. Radio: 770 AM/96.3 FM, Line: FSU by 7 (Game 2: Saturday, 5 p.m., themw.com)
* steal; ^ block What you need to know about the Lobos: Fresno State’s offensive efficiency ranks 214th (out of 347 Division I teams) and is the fourth worst on the Lobos schedule after past opponents Dixie State and San Jose State and future foe Air Force. That bodes well the Lobos, who still believe they can defend well enough, and “ugly up” games enough, to give themselves a chance. Of course, it’s hard to forget about Saturday’s mind-boggling poor defensive performance against the Spartans, who scored 1.24 points per possession while still ranking 333rd in the country in effective field goal percentage. UNM is still hurt by live-ball turnovers setting up fast-break and transition buckets for opponents, but they are moving the ball well on offense again. The move of Saquan Singleton to point guard has worked; he has had 22 assists and six turnovers (3.65:1 assist to turnover ratio) in his three starts there.
What you need to know about the Bulldogs: Fresno State has an offensive rebounding rate of 31.9% in Division I games. The only two teams the Lobos have played that are grabbing better than 30% of their misses are Boise State (32.0%) and Utah State (35.2%). UNM lost four games to those two teams by an average of 32.3 points. Big teams have been a problem for UNM, but Fresno State is different in that while it has a 7-foot potential NBA talent in Orlando Robinson (and two seldom-used 7-footers on the bench), the overall roster height ranks 127th in the country. Containing Robinson, the Mountain West’s leading rebounder (and second in offensive rebounds per game at 3.0) will be the focus, of course, but doing that with just Bayron Matos and Valdir Manuel won’t get the job done. Robinson has range, is developing as a passer and can stretch the defense and find teammates if doubled (he’s second on the team in assists and shooting 8-of-16 from 3-point range).