Mountain West matchups


MOUNTAIN WEST MATCHUPS

(1) NEW MEXICO vs. (4) SAN DIEGO STATE

■ Time/TV: 6 p.m. today, CBSSN (Cable 333)

■ Line: New Mexico -2; total 126½

■ What to watch: Opposing junior guards will be in the spotlight. This season’s Mountain West player of the year, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams, faces last season’s honoree, San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin. The Lobos (27-5) were outstanding defensively in their quarterfinal win, limiting Wyoming to 46 points and 32 percent shooting. But their offense was stagnant. New Mexico went without a field goal for more than 10 minutes to start the second half. Williams, who had one basket and only six points, will look to be more aggressive as a scorer.

■ Fast facts: The Lobos rank 222nd in the nation in field-goal percentage (.424). ... Franklin has scored in double figures in 29 of 30 games this season, leading the Aztecs (22-9) in scoring 20 times. ... The Aztecs have won 91 consecutive games when leading with five minutes remaining in regulation. ... The teams split their regular-season meetings, with San Diego State winning 55-34 at home on Jan. 26 and New Mexico winning 70-60 on Feb. 27.

■ Key player: Alex Kirk, a 7-foot sophomore, gives New Mexico an opportunity to dominate the smaller Aztecs inside. Kirk averages 12.0 points and 8.1 rebounds, and is shooting 50 percent from the field, including 31.7 percent from 3-point range.

(2) COLORADO STATE vs. (3) UNLV

■ Time/TV: 8:30 p.m. today, CBSSN (Cable 333)

■ Line: UNLV -4½; total 135½

■ What to watch: The Rebels (24-8) finally are at full strength on their front line. Freshman forward Anthony Bennett (left shoulder) and junior forward Mike Moser (right elbow) started together Wednesday for the first time since Jan. 24 and combined for 32 points and 17 rebounds against Air Force. Sophomore center Khem Birch will play an important role off the bench to help match up with the Rams’ physical interior players — seniors Colton Iverson, Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith. Senior point guard Dorian Green is not expected to play for Colorado State (25-7) because of a sprained right ankle, but his status will be a game-time decision. Green had started all 127 games in his career before sitting out the Rams’ 67-61 victory over Fresno State in the quarterfinals.

■ Fast facts: UNLV is 7-4 all time in the MW tournament semifinals, including 0-2 the past two years. ... The Rebels are 34-3 at the Thomas & Mack Center under second-year coach Dave Rice. ... The teams split their regular-season meetings, with Colorado State winning 66-61 at home on Jan. 19 and UNLV winning 61-59 on Feb. 20.

■ Key player: UNLV senior Anthony Marshall should be able to exploit the point guard matchup with the Rams’ Jon Octeus, a seldom-used backup before Green’s injury. Marshall has 29 assists and eight turnovers in the past five games.

 

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