Battle for the Top Mountain West Spot, Oregon Looks To Hold Off Surging Stanford

By Debbie B.

Hoops action on the left coast has some good Saturday games. #16 New Mexico (22-4, 9-2) kicks things off when they travel to #22 Colorado St. (21-5, 8-3) at 4 p.m. ET. The Lobos sit one game ahead of the Rams in the Mountain West conference but unfortunately for them, the home team holds the country’s third-longest home winning streak at 27 games.

At 8:00 p.m. ET, #23 Oregon (21-6, 10-4) will play Stanford (16-11, 7-7). The Cardinals have been playing well on the road while the Ducks have been struggling everywhere lately.

 #16 New Mexico vs. #22 Colorado St.

New Mexico's Kendall Wilson

New Mexico has won 10 of its 12 match ups against Colorado State and is playing to keep its top MWC spot.

In their Jan. 23 meeting, New Mexico won 66-61 at home with Tony Snell scoring 23 points for the team.

For the Rams, they will look to rebound after Wednesday’s 61-59 loss to UNLV, ending a six-game win streak. Colton Iverson had 16 points and 10 rebounds but the Rams had been outrebounded 38-31–a first for the season as their the national leader for rebound margin at plus-13.0 (58.9 percent of missed shots).

It got worse from Wednesday’s game: the Rams saw season lows in rebounding (44.9), offensive rebounding (27.0) and defensive rebounding (65.6).

New Mexico is well rested. They haven’t played since last Saturday when they defeated Boise State 60-50 but only shot 34.7 percent.

Kendall Williams leads the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game and 4.6 assists per game.

The Lobos are on a mission and coach Steve Alford recently commented via ESPN, “We have a locker room full of guys who have won it and understand a championship run. They have a group in their locker room who is trying to break through.”

In the January match up, both teams underwent cold shooting: Colorado State had 36.8 percent while New Mexico was 36.5 percent. The Rams bright spot was Wes Eikmeier as the leading scorer with 20 points.

For Colorado State, this game is seen as one of its biggest home ones in history and the bettors give them the winning nod (-6,128 o/u).

#23 Oregon vs. Stanford

Stanford Forward Josh Huestis

On Thursday, Oregon lost 48-46 to California at the buzzer and now they are tied with the Arizona Wildcats for the top Pac-12 spot. With its 46 points, it represents its lowest number of points since 2010.

Not helping Oregon is point guard Dominic Artis’ absence; he’s been out for eight consecutive games from a foot injury and who knows when he’ll return. Without him, the team has gone 4-4.

With Artis, the Ducks averaged 75.9 points (46.0 percent shooting) and 14.7 assists over 19 games but without him, they’re down to a 62.1 point average (41.5 percent shooting) and a 9.8 assist average.

Leading scorer E.J. Singler (11.6 points) has tried to step up but in his last eight games, he’s scored nine points or less in four of them but 14 points in the others. It was ugly against Cal: Singler was 1 for 12 with seven points.

Singler said of the team’s recent play via ESPN, “It hurts. I thought our whole team played really hard so it was horrible to lose this way. They played good defense, but we didn’t hit shots tonight collectively, especially me. We gotta get better.”

Meanwhile, Stanford will travel to Oregon with confidence after defeating the Ducks on Jan. 30, 76-52. It represented Oregon’s worst loss in two seasons.

The Cardinals held the Ducks to 34.6 percent shooting with 20 turnovers and a season-low four assists.

Stanford has been playing well on the road: winning three of its last four games. They have upped their offensive game, hitting 80-point games in their last eight. They have Josh Huestis to thank from the paint.

The forward has been averaging 14.9 points (58.0 percent shooting) with 10.5 rebounds during that time; he’s also had six double-doubles.

Oregon started off the season playing well at home and will do so again (-5).