Colorado State’s home court has never been particularly hospitable to the Lobos, who are 12-23 in Fort Collins overall and 2-7 in their last nine visits. They can’t expect a warm reception Saturday.
The Rams (11-3, 2-2 Mountain West) undoubtedly have been looking forward to this matchup since last March, when the Lobos swept a pair of games from them in Albuquerque to pull a regular-season conference title from their grasp. Recent developments have only added fuel to the motivational fire.
UNM (14-4, 5-0) comes in riding a six-game winning streak and is trying to build a cushion atop the MWC standings. Meanwhile, CSU is coming off a stunning 77-52 home loss to Air Force on Thursday, its first home defeat to the Falcons since 2008 and the most one-sided in series history.
“We’re going to run into a bunch of angry Rams,” Lobos coach Mike Bradbury said.
Bradbury watched video of Air Force’s romp on Friday but said he did not give it too much emphasis. He fully expects to face the version of Colorado State that opened the season 10-1 and still leads the Mountain West in scoring defense.
“I expect they’ll be ready to go,” he said of the Rams. “Good teams have short memories. They had a rough night against Air Force but it’s just one game and you move on. Colorado State is still one of the best teams in our league.”
The Rams generally hang their hats on defense and 2021-22 is no exception. They feature the MWC’s top scoring defense, allowing 58.1 points per game.
But CSU has surrendered 72.8 points per game in conference games and faces a stiff challenge slowing down New Mexico, which is averaging a league-best 80.2 points through five MWC games. Four Lobo starters average double figures in scoring and the fifth, Antonia Anderson, is at 9.8 per game.
“The big thing is we’ve been executing well, getting good shots,” Bradbury said. “Hopefully we can keep that going because CSU is a good defensive team.”
The Rams also are more than capable on offense, ranking second to UNM in made 3-pointers. Guards McKenna Hofschild, Upe Atosu and Kendyll Kinzer are quality shooters, and the Lobos surrendered 11 3-pointers in Thursday’s 85-76 win at Wyoming.
BY THE NUMBERS: UNM is 5-0 in conference play for just the second time in program history, previously accomplishing the feat in 1998-99 as members of the Western Athletic Conference. The Lobos have never started 6-0 in conference play.
Anderson, who joined the Lobos’ 1,000-point club Thursday, can tie the program record for games played Saturday. Angela Hartill (2005-09) appeared in 134 games for the Lobos. Anderson stands at 133.
EARLY TIP: UNM’s rescheduled game against San Jose State on Jan. 24 will tip of at 5:30 p.m. at the Pit. Originally set for Dec. 28, the game was postponed because of COVID issues within SJSU’s program.
Women: UNM at Colorado State, 1 p.m., 610 AM/95.9 FM, streaming at themw.com