One of two teams in the Mountain West Conference that is currently undefeated after eight games, the 18th-ranked New Mexico Lobos try to keep the good times rolling on Wednesday night, as they entertain the USC Trojans at The Pit.
New Mexico, which is tied with Wyoming for the best record among MWC programs at 8-0, is also one of three teams in the conference that is nationally ranked along with San Diego State and UNLV. The Lobos have had some close calls in the early going, but none more challenging than the 77-68 overtime victory versus Indiana State on the road on Saturday as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge.
As for the Trojans, they finally played their first true road game of the season on Monday and bowed to Nebraska in Lincoln by a final of 63-51. The loss was the third in a row and the fourth in the last five outings for a USC group that is now one game below .500 overall.
The series between these two teams, which began during the 1954-55 campaign, is locked at five games apiece. UNM, which is 3-1 at The Pit versus the Trojans, has won four in a row, including the most recent affair last year in Los Angeles by a score of 44-41, by far the lowest-scoring game in the series.
The Trojans were paced by J.T. Terrell with 14 points, Byron Wesley with 12 and Jio Fontan with 11, as the squad bowed for the third time in as many games with the loss to Nebraska in Lincoln two nights ago. USC made a total of just nine field goals in the first half, yet somehow managed to move out to a four- point advantage with just under eight minutes to play before intermission but then fell apart, eventually trailing by as many as 20 points in the setback. Terrell leads the team in scoring with his 12.7 ppg after seven outings, but his mere 31.4 percent accuracy from the floor is actually weaker than his 33.3 percent effort behind the three-point line at the moment. Eric Wise is the only other player averaging double figures with his 10.4 ppg, his 6.3 rpg placing him second in that category as well. Fontan (8.1 ppg) is an abysmal 25.8 percent shooter from the field, but he has tried to redeem himself with 39 assists, against 20 turnovers, but still his shooting woes are far too destructive for the club as it generates just 63.9 ppg.
Ahead by 14 at the break against Indiana State on the road, the Lobos appeared to be well on their way to yet another win, but in the second half UNM fell apart on offense as it made a mere five field goals, including 1-of-7 behind the three-point line. In the overtime session the visitors held the Sycamores to only two field goals in order to ease to the win. Except for Tony Snell who was held to seven points, every starter scored in double figures for the Lobos, starting with Kendall Williams with a team-best 24 points and continuing with Hugh Greenwood with 14 and nine boards. Able to produce a double-double, Chad Adams accounted for 12 points and 10 boards, followed by Alex Kirk with 10 points and Cameron Bairstow with eight points and a game- high 11 rebounds off the bench. The team shot only 38.6 percent from the floor against ISU, the third time this season they've come in under 40 percent. Except for two outings when the Lobos found a way to combine for 19-of-38 shooting behind the three-point line, perimeter accuracy continues to be a challenge for the group at a mere 31.1 percent. Williams (14.3 ppg, 37 assists), Snell (12.9 ppg, 27 assists) and Kirk (11.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg) lead the way for the Lobos.