San Diego St.-New Mexico Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- San Diego State was anything but lacking in confidence after narrowly knocking off one of the better teams in the country over the weekend.
The Aztecs, however, could be quickly humbled in what should be a tightly contested battle versus New Mexico at The Pit.
Looking to extend its season-best winning streak to nine, No. 16 San Diego State visits a surging Lobos team seeking a 14th consecutive victory Wednesday night.
The Aztecs (15-2, 1-0 Mountain West), whose only losses came 77-67 at then-No. 11 Baylor and 85-83 to current No. 19 Creighton in November, continued their tremendous play in Saturday's conference opener.
San Diego State held usually high-scoring UNLV to a season-low 35.3 percent from the field and Jamaal Franklin scored 24 points - including the game-winning layup with three-tenths of a second remaining to defeat the then-No. 12 Runnin' Rebels 69-67. Franklin sat out the previous possession after twisting his right ankle late in the game and the injury could hinder him in this one.
"The Aztecs are not a team who thought we were going to be here, but we are going to be one of the top teams in the nation. We showed that (Saturday), " said guard Chase Tapley, averaging a team-best 16.9 points.
"All we can do is just play hard and believe in one another. Like our student section said `I believe', we believed (Saturday) and we came out with a big win."
Unfortunately for the Aztecs, keeping things going in front of the Lobos' crowd could prove more difficult.
After opening 2-2, it's safe to say New Mexico (15-2, 1-0) has hit its stride. The Lobos have outscored opponents by an average of 19.2 points while holding them to just 36.4 percent from the floor during their 13-game run.
"We have been in that mode of taking good shots for several weeks ... Anytime you can win 13 in a row at this level, you are doing some good things," coach Steve Alford told the school's official website.
Guards Kendall Williams and Jamal Fenton totaled a combined 27 points while going 5-of-7 from 3-point range during Saturday's 72-62 conference-opening victory at Wyoming.
"It was a great win. It was huge for us, playing in somebody's building where they were 11-0," said Alford, whose bench outscored the Cowboys' reserves 22-4.
"Our bench was terrific. That could be a key for us coming into league play. I don't know many benches that are as good as ours."
The Lobos figure to become all the more dangerous if Hugh Greenwood is able to return. The freshman point guard had posted a 3.00 assist-to-turnover ratio in making 13 consecutive starts before missing the last two games with a sprained ankle. His status for Wednesday is unknown.
New Mexico, which has dropped 10 of 13 in this series, had taken back-to-back home meetings with San Diego State before falling 87-77 to the then-No. 6 Aztecs on Jan. 15, 2011. Nine of the Lobos' last 11 losses to San Diego State have come by seven or fewer points.
New Mexico has won five of seven regular-season matchups versus conference foes ranked in the Top 25. The Lobos, who visit No. 14 UNLV on Saturday, find themselves in the midst of their best start since opening 16-2 in 1998-99.
Updated January 17, 2012