New Mexico Lobos vs. Utah St. Aggies Pick & Prediction JANUARY 16th 2024

Utah State delivered a miracle finish on Saturday, complete with a five-point play, to keep the nation’s longest streak alive.

The No. 16 Aggies now will look to improve their impressive streak to 16 straight wins when they take on New Mexico in a Mountain West showdown on Tuesday night at Albuquerque, N.M.

Utah State (16-1, 4-0 MW) was on the verge of its first setback in more than two months when it trailed for all but 8.4 seconds of the game at UNLV.

The Aggies were down by four when Darius Brown II knocked down a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left. While the ball was in the air, Utah State’s Great Osobor was fouled by the Rebels’ Kalib Boone. Osobor made both free throws and Utah State’s first lead held as the 87-86 final score.

“When I was at the line, Coach (Danny) Sprinkle was like, ‘You’re built for this,'” Osobor said. “Everyone was like, ‘Go win this one.’ I calmed down and I prayed real quick.”

The end result was that the third-best start in Utah State history is still alive. The Aggies went 24-1 to start the 2008-09 season and 20-1 to open the 2003-04 season.

“What an unbelievable college basketball game,” Sprinkle said. “That was a grit win, a culture win, a belief win, a program win. You name it. We needed all 40 minutes. To lead for the most important 8.4 (seconds) was huge.”

Osobor had 24 points and 14 rebounds to raise his team-leading averages to 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. Ian Martinez also had 24 points against UNLV.

Surviving the close call continued a stellar season for Utah State under Sprinkle, who is in his first campaign at the school. Sprinkle guided Montana State to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons.

The Aggies lost 72-66 in overtime at Bradley in their second game of the season. Their long winning streak includes a 77-72 home win over then-No. 13 Colorado State on Jan. 6.

Utah State will certainly find it to be a challenging matchup when it faces New Mexico (14-3, 2-2), which posted an 88-70 home victory over No. 19 San Diego State on Saturday. The Lobos are 9-0 at home.

The raucous crowd inside The Pit on Saturday helped turn the game with the Aztecs. The Lobos trailed 35-23 in the first half before dominating the rest of the contest and they tied a school record with 14 blocks.

Jaelen House scored 26 points and JT Toppin had 17 points to go with career bests of 16 points and five blocked shots. Toppin, a freshman, averages 12.8 points per game and leads the Lobos in rebounding (8.1) and blocked shots (29).

“I feel when we have a big crowd, we can’t lose,” Toppin said. “When they get louder, it’s over.”

New Mexico coach Richard Pitino also was impressed by the atmosphere inside the renowned facility.

“It is a special building and the most underrated fan base in college basketball, and we were able to do this on the biggest stage against a terrific program,” Pitino said. “Hopefully we can continue to build upon this. It was an amazing effort all around. …

“A great day for our fan base and our team, but we now have to get ready for another ranked team.”

While Pitino’s squad will have the homecourt advantage, the Lobos have lost seven straight games and 10 of their past 11 against Utah State.

–Field Level Media

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