New Mexico entered the Diamond Classic in Honolulu with a 7-3 record. They lost to Rice at home just prior to the trip when power forward Tim Williams made a Chris Webber-esque mistake by calling for timeout when the team didn't have any, allowing Rice to knock down the game winning free throw with less than a second left. A frustrating loss indeed, but one that could have been easily erased with success in Hawaii.
But success is the opposite of what UNM has been experiencing in the Aloha state. They lost to Auburn in the opening round on Tuesday 83-78. On Wednesday they took on BYU who was fresh off of a loss to Harvard.
BYU crushed New Mexico by 30 points, winning 96-66. BYU guard/forward Chase Fischer, channeling the spirit of Jimmer Fredette, lit up the Lobos for 41 points. He wasn't alone as Nick Emery added 20 of his own. The two combined to go 14/24 from three. The Cougars jumped out to an early 24-13 lead in this one and never looked back. Sure the Lobos narrowed the gap to 42-38 late in the first half, but Brigham Young extended the lead back to eight by half time.
In the second half, the Lobos never really close.They could only muster 28 points in the final 20 minutes on 40% shooting. Their opponents shot a blistering 55% and stretched their lead by tacking on 50 points during the same time frame.
Tim Williams regained his form against the Cougars as he put up a solid stat line of 16 points and 8 rebounds. Elijah Brown matched him with 16 of his own, and Cullen Neal wasn't far behind with 14. But as has been the case all season, they received little help from their supporting cast.
New Mexico has now lost three in a row and their weaknesses are being exposed. Namely, it seems that no one else is a threat to put points on the board, making it difficult to go 3 on 5 when UNM is on offense. Their perimeter defense, which was gaining a reputation for stifling opponents' outside shooting, is regressing. I don't want to say that the Lobos are in a free fall, but losing by 30 to an non-ranked team is concerning.
UNM suddenly finds themselves with a 7-5 record. They will have a chance to turn things around against Washington State on Christmas day.