The New Mexico Lobos came up short in its opening game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off tournament as they fell, 69-65, to the Boston College Eagles. Yet, that is the least of the Lobos concerns since starting guard Cullen Neal is going to be out for a significant amount of time with a severe left ankle injury.
This is a big blow since Neal was emerging in this early basketball season to be a key player for the Lobos, as he was averaging 24.5 points per game. He scored just two points before leaving the game with the ankle injury.
Neal rolled his ankle in the second half of the loss to Boston College and is not expected to play again in this tournament, per Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal. There was a concern of Neal suffering a fractured ankle, but there are other concerns such as ligament damage.
[New Mexico head coach] Craig Neal told the [Albuquerque] Journal on Friday morning from San Juan, Puerto Rico, that while an X-ray revealed "no major fracture," that there is still a concern for possible ligament damage or a hairline fracture. The Lobos won't know the full extent of the injury until the team returns to Albuquerque early next week and has an MRI conducted.
With Neal sidelined for the foreseeable future, look for Hugh Greenwood to replace Neal as the primary point guard. Greenwood was going to play some point guard but that was not meant to be his primary position. Filling in the starting lineup will be junior guard Arthur Edwards. Going further down the bench will men more minutes for freshmen Sam Logwood and Xavier Adams in the backcourt.
This is a big blow for the Lobos because Neal has looked excellent so far in this early part of the college basketball season. To see how New Mexico will look without Neal, tune in Friday night to ESPN3 at 7 p.m. ET as the Lobos take on George Mason.