LOGAN – Utah State was able to break a five-game losing streak the last time the New Mexico basketball team visited the Spectrum. That game was last February, but this season’s Aggie team is in a similar situation. It isn’t quite five games this time, just three, but after starting 0-2 in conference USU wants the win when the Lobos will visit the Spectrum Wednesday night at 9 p.m.
Beating New Mexico doesn’t appear to be an easy task. With a win at home against Fresno State and a New Year’s Day win at three-time defending Mountain West champion San Diego State, the Lobos are 2-0 in conference.
“They’ve had two really good wins in a row and it looks like to me they are playing their best basketball of the year,” USU head coach Tim Duryea said. “Obviously when you go to San Diego State and win, you don’t do that unless you are playing your best basketball on both sides of the ball.”
A big reason for the success can be attributed to senior forward Tim Williams and junior guard Elijah Brown. Duryea said the Lobos like to get the ball to Williams in the block as well as set up shots for Brown.
Williams’ 17.6 points and seven rebounds leads the Lobos. Duryea said he is dangerous because of his ability to score in a variety of ways. He said he plays well under the basket, makes mid-ranged jumpers and grabs offensive rebounds.
“He really has no holes in his offensive game,” Duryea said. “He doesn’t shoot 3s, but 18 feet and in there is nothing he can’t do offensively.”
Brown is also averaging double digits in scoring. He is scoring 16.7 points per game and leads the team in assists per game (2.8) and steals (19).
“Overall, they are big, they are talented, they’ve got speed at the point,” Duryea said. “They can shoot the ball from the wings and obviously Williams is a handful from the block.”
Duryea said while most defenses focus on Williams and Brown, Dane Kuiper can sneak in and be “deceivingly good.” Kuiper is making 44.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.
“He doesn’t get a ton of looks because of all the things they are doing for Brown and Williams,” Duryea said. “But if he’s left unattended he can knock down threes.”
Utah State leads the overall series 21-8, but the two teams met for the first time in more than 34 years in 2014. Since then, UNM has won four games to USU’s two. Last year’s two contest were split as each team won at home.