Coming off one of their most disappointing outings in recent memory, the 20th-ranked New Mexico Lobos try to regroup as they head to Laramie to challenge the Wyoming Cowboys in Mountain West Conference action at Arena Auditorium.
Over the weekend, the Lobos took a perfect 4-0 league mark to Viejas Arena and were smacked around rather thoroughly by the San Diego State Aztecs in a lopsided 55-34 final. While UNM is still first in the MWC standings, it was the weakest offensive display for the Lobos in the shot clock-era, and its lowest point total since 1976.
As for the Cowboys, a program that showed so much promise over the first two months of the campaign with a 13-game win streak out of the gate, they've hit a rough spot in the schedule and have now lost two straight and three of their last four. Over the weekend, the team was defeated by Air Force, 57-48, which means the Pokes are now 2-4 in conference play, ahead of only Fresno State (1-5) in the league standings.
A major issue for the Cowboys lies in the fact that leading scorer Luke Martinez (14.5 ppg) is not only injured, he has also been suspended indefinitely due to a bar fight that sent him to the injured list in the first place.
Last season, the Lobos swept the two-game series with Wyoming, posting a 48-38 victory at home in The Pit after controlling a 72-62 final in Laramie. Nevertheless, the Pokes are the ones who still hold a 64-61 edge in the all- time series.
New Mexico fell behind the Aztecs immediately last Saturday, finishing with just 25.0 percent shooting from the floor and 3-of-15 behind the 3-point line in the abysmal display. Kendall Williams was the lone double-digit scorer for the Lobos with his game-high 14 points believe it or not, but as the only player to have made more than just a pair of field goals for UNM, he was also responsible for five of their 17 turnovers. The shooting accuracy from the floor was by far the worst this season for New Mexico, but the team has had some weak efforts in recent weeks with a total of six of its last eight contests showing the squad hitting less than 39.0 percent of its attempts. The defense has been the unit's saving grace, limiting league foes to only 59.0 ppg, but at the same time the Lobos are not giving themselves much breathing room with just 63.2 ppg as Tony Snell leads the way with his 16.2 ppg.
While it wasn't nearly as dismal as the Lobos' effort, Wyoming also had a hard time finding the basket last Saturday as the team connected on just 33.3 percent from the floor. Perimeter shooting was particularly rough as the squad converted a mere 5-of-28 tries from beyond the arc, en route to the nine-point loss. Leonard Washington led the way with 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, but by no means was that enough to keep the squad out of the loss column. Derrious Gilmore tacked on 15 points, but he shot only 5-of-17 from the floor for a team that utilized just three bench players. Despite the recent run of defeats, the Cowboys are still one of the strongest defensive teams in the country with only 54.4 ppg allowed over the course of 19 contests. Washington is not only the top active scorer (14.5 ppg) and rebounder (9.1 rpg), he is also first on the unit with 41 blocked shots and 28 steals, demonstrating a willingness to work hard at both ends of the floor.