Preview of Lobos vs NAU Tonight

W-L 24-7 13-18
PPG 75.4 68.2
O-PPG 64.0 72.9
Scoring Margin 11.4 -4.7
Rebound Margin 3.0 +0.5
TO Margin 2.0 -1.9
FT Attempt Margin 4.7 +0.6
Steals/Gm 9.9 6.4
Shots/ Gm 66 62
2 pt FG % 49% 43%
3 pf FG % 30% 33%
3 pt attempts/Gm 24 17
Returning Starters 3 6
Returning Players 6 9

Tonight’s Lobo game is a rematch against Northern Arizona. The Lobos won in Flagstaff last season, 84-55 and it was the game where Nike introduced Ahlise to snowball fights in the parking lot after the game. UNM has won all four previous games.
The Lumberjacks return almost everyone who played significant minutes last season, the only major loss being leading scorer Kaleigh Paplow. Six returning players started at least 10 games. Paplow’s minutes are essentially the only minutes lost, as the starters averaged almost 32 min each per game. Only two other players saw more than token minutes. Lauren Orndorff, a 5’10” guard, is their primary 3 point thread, shooting 42% last season.
The roster also has six new players who bring a noticeable increase in height. All are 5’11” and above including 6’3” grad transfer Molly Rohrer from UCS-Pueblo. This will be their first game of the season so it is unknown how many minutes the new players will get, but a grad transfer like Rohrer who fills a need will likely see a lot of court time.
The added height–and the loss of Jaisa who was 8 for 12 with 20 points in only 20 minutes in last year’s game–may change what tonight’s game looks like. The Lobos were +14 on rebounds against the much shorter Lumberjacks at NAU, but well over half the UNM points and rebounds were from players who will not suit up tonight.
Last year the game was close for a half with the Lobos up only seven at the half. A 23-9 third quarter blew it open and the Lobos emptied their bench. Even so, the Lumberjacks struggled to keep up with the quickness and length of the UNM subs.
Two things to watch:
–With less of a height advantage this year, and after the UC Riverside rebounding struggles, will UNM be able to maintain an advantage on the boards? If they can, and if that lets them run, the game should be a comfortable win.
–Which version of the Lobo shooters will show up? The first quarter UCR shooters who were 16% from the field (11% from three), or the shooters that hit 45% the rest of the way, 47% from beyond the arc?
Promotions: Tonight’s game is supposed to have a promotion with the zoo to have petting animals around the concourse.