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No. 14 Arizona Wildcats at New Mexico Lobos

Who: No. 14 Arizona (6-0) vs. New Mexico (4-3)

Where: Dreamstyle Arena (aka The Pit), Albuquerque

TV: Mountain West Network (Streaming)

Probable starters

G Helena Pueyo (6-0 Seniors)

G/F Jade Loville (5-11 Seniors)

F. Esmery Martinez (6-2 Seniors)

F. Lauren Fields (5-9 seniors)

F. Cate Reese (6-2 seniors)

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F. Shaiquel McGruder (6-0 senior)

G Amaya Brown (5-1 sophomore)

F Paula Reus (6-1 sophomore)

G LaTascya Duff (5-7 seniors)

G LaTora Duff (5-7 seniors)

key figures

New Mexico—Shaiquel McGruder

McGruder is coming off her best season as a Lobo, averaging 14.2 points while shooting 61% from the field and amassing 258 rebounds, 49 blocks and 66 steals. They were all named to the All-Mountain West Team and the All-MWC Defensive Team. At the start of this season, the 6-foot forward is averaging 14 points per game, has 17 steals and 20 blocks.

Nnaji scored a perfect 7-7 on Field Scoring Day, finishing with 17 points in a win over USD. She even made her first 3-point attempt of the season. The freshman has been efficient in all five games she’s played, going 17-24 and shooting 71% from the field — a number that ranks second in the Pac-12 to her teammate Helena Pueyo’s 72%. Nnaji also has five blocks and three steals.

matchup history

Arizona is 14-9 against New Mexico after winning four straight games. In the very first season, UA was a charter member of the AIAW, the Wildcats beat the Lobos 73-36. The last time New Mexico defeated Arizona was on December 9, 2009. The Wildcats won last season’s game 77-60.

She said so

“New Mexico won the last three and is gaining momentum after a tough OT loss to (our) rivals ASU. They have three starters back who have double-digit goal strength. We need to limit their transition options and defend the 3-point line Well. The Pit is one of the toughest places in college basketball and we look forward to another opportunity to compete. – UA Assistant Coach Erin Grant who scouted the Lobos

sidelines

This is the second time in three weeks that UA has faced twins. Arizona held NAU students Nyah and Olivia Moran to 12 combined points in the teams’ opener on Nov. 10. Now they face UNM’s LaTascya and LaTora Duff, both 5ft 7in guards. LaTascya and LaTora Duff, who transferred from Shelton State to New Mexico after their sophomore year, both rank average exactly 13 points per game.

Only a current wildcat, Jade Loville, has experience playing New Mexico at The Pit. The arena’s pitch is built a little over 37 feet below street level, giving players a completely different feel.

“You’re in this little rectangle, but then the pit is higher than you, so it feels like everyone’s just looking down, and it’s fun to play in,” said Loville, who is in her second season in Boise State played at The Pit. “…it’s going to be fun to have that challenge on the street and have the other team’s fans looking at us instead of our fans just cheering for us.”

Fun Facts

Arizona: Former UA star Davellyn White lost his freshman year to New Mexico. She wouldn’t let that happen again. Over the next three years, Whyte averaged 64 points and 18 rebounds in three Wildcats wins. … Current UA assistant Erin Grant spent three seasons (2012, 2017-18) on the UNM staff.

New Mexico: The Lobos are 2-0 in overtime this season, losing 73-64 to New Mexico State and 83-77 to ASU in back-to-back games. … Amaya Brown’s father, Greg, led the Lobos to two consecutive NCAA berths, won WAC Player of the Year and the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award for Best Senior Under 6ft.

numbers game

4 – Arizona forward Esmery Martinez has won the gold jersey four times this season. The jersey is awarded to the best practice player each week.

5 — Steals for Madi Conner in the first six games. The Arizona Guard had 16 all of last season.

2 — Two of Adia Barnes’ coaching days are high school coaches. LaBrittney Jones is an assistant at DeSoto (Texas) and Brea Workman is an assistant at Las Vegas Centennial, her alma mater.

Contact sports reporter PJ Brown at [email protected] On Twitter: @PJBrown09

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