New Mexico jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in this one. They were up 38-19 at halftime behind 59 percent shooting to Loyola’s 25 percnet. Moreover, they out-rebounded the Ramblers 20 to 12 and had 14 more points in the paint than Loyola at the midway point.
They finished the game by holding Loyola to under 32 percent while outworking them on the boards 38-21. Power forward Joe Furstinger was particularly disruptive on the defense end, accounting for three of UNM's eight blocks.
Tim Williams responded from a down game against NMSU in which he was plagued by foul trouble to lead the Lobos with 13 first-half points and 22 points and 7 rebounds for the game. He was supported by Sam Logwood (12 points on 5/5 shooting and a monster slam dunk in the second half) and Obij Aget (8 points and 8 rebounds) for another solid Lobo performance.
The Lobos' offensive attack was balanced tonight and you could tell that the back court of Elijah Brown (6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists) and Cullen Neal (9 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists) made a concerted effort to involve the front court more. When New Mexico incorporates their front court players (which they struggled with during the NMSU win), this team looks tough to beat. That was certainly the case here as Neal started the game with a beautiful lob to Obij Aget who slammed it home.
The front court responded well to being a focal point. Williams and Aget particularly got a lot of easy hoops inside and New Mexico scored 42 points in the paint. What's more, Neal seems to be mastering the lob a la Chris Paul after hooking up with both Aget and Williams. If Neal can continue to use his height advantage over most point guards, improve his passing and reduce his turnovers, the Lobos could make a huge impact in the Mountain West. Against Loyola, his decision-making was smart on the whole.
The Lobos continue to shoot efficiently (62% from the field) and have some true threats from three this year (they went 5/13 this game). They will need to cut down on their turnovers (17 in this one with Brown and Neal contributing seven of them) if they want to beat more polished teams. However, the early return on the Lobos is that they could be a dangerous team in the conference.
Devon Turk led the Ramblers with 11 points as they fall to 2-1. UNM goes to 3-0 with this home victory and will turn their attention to Saturday's game against Southern California.