The New Mexico Lobos got down by eleven with seven minutes in the first half and it would take them until the third minute of the second half to catch up. Shooting woes and turnovers plagued the Lobos in a game in which they probably had to play above their averages to get the win.
Elijah Brown led UNM with 21 points on an efficient 6/12 shooting. Unfortunately, he didn't receive much help. Sure, Cullen Neal chimed in with 16 of his own, but it took him 16 shots to do it. The other cornerstone of their team, power forward Tim Williams, had a hard time among the trees (Purdue's big men) and only connected on 3/12 shots for 8 points. Only three other players scored for New Mexico.
Purdue actually shot worse than New Mexico, 37% to UNM's 38% and a paltry 14% from downtown (to UNM's 38%). But the Boilermakers had something that the Lobos did not have an answer for: big men Isaac Haas (21 points) and A.J. Hammons (16 points, 11 rebounds). The two combined for 13/22 from the field and were flat out dominant.
UNM tried to contain these two towers with their own seven footers: Obij Aget (7 points) and Nikola Scekic (4 points). Sadly for the Lobos' gameplan, Aget was on the bench for most of the first half after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes. In fact, he fouled out in ten minutes of action. Scekic was thrown in there for his first meaningful minutes of the season, but honestly, the young big man is still too green around the gills. A tip of the hat to the valiant efforts of Joe Furstinger, who saw some time at center, but was sorely undersized.
As I mentioned, after falling behind by eleven early, and trailing 25-31 at the half, New Mexico kept the Boilermakers nervous in the second half. They played them evenly from about the 17 minute mark to the 8 minute mark in the second half and it looked like this game would go down to the wire. But then UNM hit a serious drought in which they only scored seven points in the next five minutes. With the Lobos ice cold, Purdue pulled away behind clutch free throws from Johnny Hill and an array of buckets from Hammons.
Purdue has been beating their opponents by an average of twenty points going into Saturday's game against New Mexico, so Lobo nation knew that the Boilermakers were the real deal. Such was the case today. The Lobos shot too poorly and committed too many mistakes to win. Though Purdue had 19 turnovers of their own, UNM couldn't capitalize.
New Mexico will hope that the comforts of home on December 12 will get them back on track as they take on Northern Iowa.