The New Mexico Lobos are looking to redeem themselves Sunday morning against the Davidson Wildcats. The Lobos were demoted to the consolation bracket after getting ripped by the high-energy UMass Minutmen, 81-65. Similarly, Davidson got thumped by Clemson (85-54) to drop to 1-4 on the season.
The Wildcats are led by De'Mon Brooks, projected Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year, who is averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. However, Brooks left the Clemson game in the second half and was later spotted on crutches. His status for Sunday's game is currently unknown. The Wildcats also have strong scorers in Brian Sullivan (13.6 ppg) and Tom Droney (12.2 ppg).
Sunday's meeting with the Lobos will be Davidson's third against a nationally-ranked opponent through six games. The Wildcats have played, and lost to, #4 Duke and #25 Virginia. Davidson advanced to the second round of the tournament by knocking off Georgia, 94-82. In that game Brooks had 21 points and eight rebounds. In their loss to Clemson, only two players scored in double digits: Brooks with 12 and Chris Czerapowicz with 14.
Alex Kirk (who went off for 32 points in the UMass loss) paces the Lobos averaging 22 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks per game. Fellow big man, Cameron Bairstow follows with 20 points and 6.5 boards per game. Kendall Williams adds 19.8 points, 8 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. The Lobos advanced to the second round in a crazy double overtime win against University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The Lobos are familiar with Brooks and Clemson as the teams faced of just over a year ago on Nov. 12, 2012 at The Pit, as part of ESPN's 24 hours of College Hoops Marathon. Brooks scored 22 points but New Mexico New went 38-of-44 from the charity stripe and erased a 16-point deficit to just get by Davidson, 86-81.
Both teams need this win. Davidson is off to its worst start since 2009-10. A win over a nationally ranked team would give the Wildcats confidence and momentum going forward. But if Brooks can't play, the Wildcats are going to have a very difficult time.
As the predicted champions of this tournament the Lobos are playing for pride and looking for redemption. A fourth place finish would be absolutely disastrous. New Mexico looked tired against UMass, what with having to play only 20 hours after a double overtime game. Look for the rested Lobos to push the ball early and pound the paint to tame the Wildcats.