Game 8: New Mexico State at No. 2 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

Thanks to a 27-0 run, the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks blew the doors off Wofford on Tuesday night to improve to 7-0 on the year. They put that undefeated mark on the line on Saturday night when they play New Mexico State at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Despite holding an all-time mark of 38-9 at the Sprint Center, many Kansas fans have nightmares about playing there thanks to some recent ugly losses (hello 2017 Big 12 Tournament and 2017 Elite Eight). While the Sprint Center does not present the same home court advantage as Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas still has success there, and fans should expect more of the same on Saturday night. That being said, New Mexico State is more than a worthy opponent, and they are not a team KU can just show up and expect to beat. NMSU will make them work for it.

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK (go to 57:00 mark of podcast)

Game Info and Notes:

  • Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm CDT
  • Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO.
  • ESPN2 or the WatchESPN App
  • The Jayhawks and Aggies are meeting for the fourth time in men’s basketball, with the last meeting in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, a Kansas 75-56 win in Omaha, Nebraska, in the first round of the event.
  • Kansas is looking to go 8-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 team opened the season 18-0. An 8-0 record would be the fifth in head coach Bill Self’s 16 seasons at KU.
  • At 7-0, Kansas is one of 11 teams in NCAA Division I still undefeated.
  • The Jayhawks are 38-9 in games played inside Sprint Center and 224-83 all-time playing in Kansas City. KU has won 25 conference tournament titles in K.C., with five of those coming at Sprint Center.
  • Kansas is the only team in the Big 12 that has two players ranked in the top five in league scoring. Redshirt junior F Dedric Lawson is third at 19.0 ppg, while senior G Lagerald Vick is fifth at 17.9 ppg.
  • With three double-doubles in his last four games and four-straight 20-point outings, Lawson is the only player in the Big 12 to average a double-double with a 17.9 ppg and 10.7 rpg.
  • Lagerald Vick leads the conference in 3-point field goals made per game at 4.0 and 3-point field goal percentage (57.1) and is 28-of-45 (62.2 percent) from 3-point range in his last six games.
About New Mexico State

The Aggies have been to the NCAA Tournament six of the last seven years, and they remain the favorite to win the WAC this season. NMSU lost its two leading scorers from a year ago, but this season, they present a more balanced scoring attack. Four players average over 8.0 PPG, and as a team they are averaging just over 81 PPG. The Aggies are coming off a dominating 100-65 win over rival New Mexico. Although, in their one game against formidable competition (St. Mary’s), NMSU lost by 20. They should pose an interesting matchup for KU on Saturday night.

Aggies to Watch

AJ Harris – 5’9′, junior, guard

Harris doesn’t do much other than score. He’s leads NMSU with 12.1 PPG, but he is only is dishing out 2.1 assists and pulling down 1.6 rebounds. He’s averaging 10 FG attempts per game, so he’s going to get his shots off.

Ivan Aurrecoechea – 6’8′, junior, forward

Aurrecoechea is coming off a 23-point, 11-rebound performance against New Mexico. He’s a load down in the post, and with KU being without Udoka Azubuike, Aurrecoechea could pose some problems for the Jayhawks.

Prediction

Kansas 81 – New Mexico State 67

I was more worried going into the Wofford game than I am going into this one on Saturday night. New Mexico State is 7-1, but the Aggies really haven’t been tested to date.

Even without Azubuike, I think the Jayhawks have too much talent and firepower for NMSU to stop. KU really needs a bounce-back performance from Lagerald Vick, as he put up a goose egg on Tuesday night. Dedric Lawson has been on a roll. I don’t see how that stops against NMSU.

Give me KU to roll on Saturday night.

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.