Here are five keys to Thursday's game at Nevada.
I would add rebounding to these keys. New Mexico State is third in America in rebounding percentage, grabbing 58 percent of available rebounds. Nevada is second in the WAC at 53 percent. NMSU outrebounded Nevada 38-25 in the first game with 17 offensive rebounds, but for some reason, the Aggies didn't turn those offensive boards into points. They have been doing a good job of getting back to that lately.
Following are comments from Tuesday with Marvin Menzies and Wendell McKines
On the perception that Nevada is on a downswing while the Aggies are on an upswing
"I think they are winning. They get every team's best shot. I think the teams that come to play them are playing on a mission. ... That's why those guys are playing more minutes, their games are a little tighter as the games go on. I just know they are 11-1. I wouldn't mind having a whole bunch of tight games and being 11-1."
On the last road trip
"This will be an interesting trip for a lot of reasons. The opportunity to get better going into the WAC Tournament. There is still a glimmer of hope here that things can shake out in our favor. We have a lot of incentives to play well and improve upon our play. For no other reason we need to have a solid performance. ... I know they have a white out going. I'm sure they will have a great crowd with an opportunity to win the regular season championship outright."
On Nevada defensively:
"The common perception when you judge a team is to look at the offensive end but you always hear that defense wins championships. They have been playing great defense. They are blocking shots, they are guarding the ball and keeping guys off the free throw line. They are doing what they need to do to win and if that's defense, you have to tip your hat to them. They have a lot of offensive weapons but they are really locking up the ball and making it really tough for people to score on them. I think that is our concerrn, what do we have to do to execute to get scoring opportunities."
On the last game (Nevada's 68-60 win in Las Cruces)
"The worst part of our game is that we didn't bring it early. We played pretty well those last 25-30 minutes. Even then we probably didn't give them our A game."
On turning Nevada over (Nevada had 16 TOs in Las Cruces)
"There is no team in our conference that handles really good pressure well. One of the reasons La tech has done a good job this year is because they pressure the ball. I think it can be effective for you but I don't think it can be relied on for the course of the game."
On Nevada coach David Carter:
"An indication of if a coach is doing a good job is when you win close games. It means those games could have gone either way. ...He's going to the right players at the right time. Coming off last year with the trials that they had with such a young team, they had high expectations this year and he has lived up to them so you have to give him credit."
On the first Nevada game and his first matchup against Olek Czyz
"With Cyzy I was looking forward to the matchup but as soon as the game started, he was face guarding me and then they played a packed in type of zone. Before you know it I have two fouls and never really got into a rhythm. ... They jammed me up whenever I tried to set a screen for Hearnst. Later on they played this packed in type of zone. They are well coached. He’s talented. He has a little bit of a motor. I respect him. I was looking forward to the matchup but going into this game I know thats not going to happen."
On the highs and lows of this season
"I felt as though we got comfortable. At the beginning of the year, we felt like we were the underdogs and we wanted to attack everybody. We started 4-0 and started to feel ourselves a little bit and took some losses in the process. After certain situations occurred, as a team we started playing together, started focusing. It all starts in practice."
On Hamidu Rahman level of play recently:
"Especially after the San Jose game. I believe if Ham plays like that, we can play with anybody in the country. He knows. It's just up to him to do it every game."
On how vital the Nevada game truly is:
"We play this game to win. I know I'm not going to be happy if we play good. We play to win. When we go to Reno tomorrow, I know the coaches are game planning for us to come out with the victory. We are going to practice like we are going into a big game.