ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Every game that features UNM and San Diego State is going to be a big game because the two programs have built one of the best rivalries in the Mountain West Conference. Coach Craig Neal told the media on Thursday that he knew it was going to be a big game before the year started, but also: “We didn’t know it was going to be the big game for the play-in game,” said Craig Neal.
Both the Lobos and Aztecs are sitting at 9-8 in MW conference play, tied for fifth place. So, Saturday’s game will determine who will avoid that play in game at the Mountain West Tournament and who will get that sixth seed.
A positive coming into this Saturday night, senior night game, is that “Mr. Consistent” Tim Williams has been cleared to practice this week. Williams has been out for a month, but that doesn’t mean he has been doing nothing for that month. Tim feels ready to contribute when he gets into the game.
“I have also been riding a bike to keep my cardio up and I have actually done some running and jogging with Corey and stuff, so I think that I will be OK. I just want to get back in the flow and back out there with my teammates. I am not going to get a month’s worth of games back in one night. So, I just have to stay relaxed and let the game come to me,” said UNM forward Tim Williams.
Williams still needs a final approval from the doctors on Friday, but he seems to have no pain in that previously hurt leg. Coach Neal knows that Tim could have some issues with cardio on Saturday, so he is contemplating at the moment how many minutes Williams should play. No matter what happens though with Tim, it has been a moral boost for this team.
“If it’s two minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, however it is, it’s his senior night and O’s senior night. I am sure there will be a lot of emotions, but he does bring confidence to everybody around him,” said UNM Head Coach Craig Neal.
UNM and SDSU will tip off at 8 p.m. on Saturday night, and this team is optimistic looking ahead. The general consensus the entire year has been, “The Mountain West Tournament is wide open,” anybody can take the Tournament Title”, and this team feels like that have that ability to catch fire here late.
“There is no better time to get hot, so hopefully we can do that and I am pretty optimistic. It is senior night and of course we have the tournament in Vegas. So, hopefully we can get some momentum going in there,” said Tim Williams.