Weekend Homework: Show and tell

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
10:30
AM ET
The game of the day isn't in Durham, N.C.

It's not in Gainesville, Fla.

Saturday's showdown is in front of the Show, San Diego State's self-dubbed student section at Viejas Arena.

San Diego State hosts New Mexico with the Mountain West Conference title on the line as well as the No. 1 seed in next week's conference tournament in Las Vegas and a potential high seed in the NCAA tournament.

Need more?

The MWC conference player of the year and a possible spot on the second-team All-America team are also on the line.

New Mexico's Cameron Bairstow might be having the best season of any forward not named Jabari Parker. Yet few are chatting about the Australian because he has been a bit under the radar. He's averaging 20.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game and put up 26 and nine in a win over the Aztecs at the Pit on Feb. 22. San Diego State's Xavier Thames has been as good for the Aztecs and is nearly as unheralded as Bairstow.

The Aztecs had a better nonconference schedule than New Mexico. Both played Kansas. San Diego State beat the Jayhawks at the Phog; the Lobos lost in Kansas City. San Diego State's win catapulted the Aztecs into the national discussion over the Lobos. But UNM has been as, if not more, consistent in 2014.

New Mexico has won 12 of its past 13 games, with the only loss coming 71-70 to Boise State, a game in which the Lobos had a shot to win the game. San Diego State's one other league blemish outside of the loss at the Pit was at Wyoming on Feb. 11.

So how does UNM complete the sweep?

New Mexico coach Craig Neal laid out four key steps:
1. "We've got to stop their transition.”

2. "We can't let their pressure bother us.”

3. "We must be able to contain Thames.”

4. "We have to get to the line."

UNM's Hugh Greenwood locked up Thames in their first meeting, limiting him to 3-of-15 shooting for seven points, nine below his average, in a 58-44 victory.

It will be harder to replicate such a stifling defensive performance now that the Aztecs have found their offensive identity.

Since scoring just 44 points against the Lobos, San Diego State has scored 90, 82 and 73 points in its past three games, two of which were on the road. Balance is back, and so is Thames, who has scored 19 and 22 points, respectively, in the past two games.

The MWC tournament will have a buzz because of the draw of Las Vegas, but these teams can count on a frenzied environment whenever they play each other during the regular season. This game will cap what has been a solid season for both schools.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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