Grand Canyon at New Mexico State, 9:00 PM Eastern, AGGIE VISION/Altitude2/espn3
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This year’s Team of the People, the New Hampshire Wildcats, were featured in last night’s Under the Radar Game of the Day and picked up a solid road win at Albany. Tonight, we step back in time to last season, and return to our beloved Grand Canyon Antelopes as they face their toughest conference challenge of the season, a road trip to Las Cruces to take on the New Mexico State Aggies. The Lopes enter play tonight at 10-6 overall and 1-0 in WAC play. They have already suffered a couple of disappointing losses this season, at home to SIU Edwardsville and on the road at UC-Riverside. Josh Braun, one of their top players entering the season, went down with an injury in the SIUE loss and proceeded to miss the next 9 games. The good news is those games saw the emergence of Dewayne Russell as one of the most dynamic players in the nation. The even better news is that Braun is back healthy now and dropped 31 points on Utah Valley last time out. In fact, Russell and Braun combined for 52 points, and Russell added 11 assists in that game. With Braun and Russell both healthy, the Lopes should be an amazingly fun team to watch the rest of the season, and have a real chance to capture the WAC regular season title (even if they are still ineligible for the NCAA Tournament #LopesWaiver).
New Mexico State enters tonight’s game at a very impressive 15-2 overall and 2-0 in conference. The Aggies have one of the nation’s longest winning streaks, with 13 straight victories entering play tonight. They feature a tough balanced scoring attack, with any of 4 or more players able to take over and lead the team on any given night. Braxton Huggins was the points leader last time out, at Chicago State, with 27 points. Eli Chuha added 13 points and 10 rebounds for his 7th double-double of the season. If the Aggies can pick up the win over Thunder Dan’s Lopes tonight, they will have the inside track on the conference regular season championship — which comes with a bye into the conference tournament semifinal round. However, to get the win they will need to find a way to slow down Braun and Russell, and that simply may not be possible.