Saturday, November 23, 2013

UTEP (Round 2): Three keys and a prediction

I think Saturday's game will be interesting, but I simply think NMSU has too many players capable of scoring while UTEP has two guys who if they get hot, it could be interesting.

We remember Daniel Mullings getting into the lane for 26 points in the Aggies 86-73 victory over the Miners last week. But it wasn't all Mullings. Sim Bhullar had 11 points and four other NMSU players each had 9 points.

I'm going to go with NMSU, 84-75

Foul trouble: Bhullar fouled out late in the first game when the game was already decided and remember it was UTEP's early foul trouble to their post players that gave the Aggies an early advantage. I think if one or two of NMSU's post players and/or Mullings find themselves in foul trouble, the game would be closer. Mullings was limited to 12 minutes against Northern Colorado in the first half with two fouls. you never know how these games are going to be called yet.

Rebound again: NMSU out rebounded UTEP 37-23 last week with 13 offensive rebounds. UTEP was likewise just as dominant in a home win over Colorado State on Tuesday, out rebounding an undersized CSU team 48-29 with 16 offensive rebounds, led by impressive freshman forward Vince Hunter with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Hunter is active and athletic. He came off the bench in the first meeting  for 16 points but should start Saturday. Hunter often grabbed the defensive board and starts the fast break on his own so the Aggies need to get back as well. Against a smaller UNC team, the Aggies only out rebounded the Bears by two while surrendering 13 offensive rebounds. I don't know if that's due to the lack of jump shots, but if the Miners keep it that close on the boards, the game will be closer this time around.

Return to form from 3: The Aggies aren't a great 3-point shooting team, but they need to be better than the 1-for-11 effort they showed against Northern Colorado. During that game, UNC's Connor Osborne was yelling at his teammates to sag off the Aggies guards. That makes life difficult for the big guys to operate. NMSU hit 4 3s in the first game against UTEP, matching the Miners four triples. The Aggies should hit between 4-6 triples on Saturday to force UTEP to try to come out and guard Mullings and company again.

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