It’s rivalry week for the Aggie men’s basketball team when they travel to the University of New Mexico for a Wednesday night game and then host UTEP on Saturday.
Obviously these games are important for the program. The Aggies are 3-13 in the past four years against their rivals and the rallying cry in the past has been to get better for conference play, then the conference tournament. But these games mean a lot to the people of Las Cruces and the Aggies need to play well in them this year.
Do they have to win both? I don’t think that’s the case. I do think they have to be in the UNM game and they do have to beat UTEP on Saturday.
The Lobos are supposed to be a good team and playing in the Pit is historically tough. Not that I think it’s insurmountable to get a victory there. There will be a good crowd as always and a good atmosphere for this one. And, you know, as a player this should be the type of game you love playing in. The Aggies should be excited about playing in a great atmosphere. No one in the crowd is going to block a shot or grab a rebound. The game will be decided on the court.
I expect the Aggies to play hard and with that they should defend and rebound well. Why not? If the Aggies play hard they should do both of these things effectively — they’re athletic enough to hold their own in these departments.
I think a KEY to the game will be the Aggies ability to shoot the 3-pointer. This will be a key to follow all year.
In their exhibition game against Eastern New Mexico the Aggies went 3-of-17 from deep and then followed that up with a 5-of-14 performance in their season opener at Northern Colorado. If the Aggies can hit one of every three 3-point attempts, they should be OK.
As for UTEP, the Miners are off to a slow start. That doesn’t mean they won’t be better by Jan. 1. But right now they’re a team the Aggies can — and should — beat in Las Cruces.