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New Mexico Basketball: What went wrong in Fort Collins?

After a 17 point loss on Tuesday to Colorado State Craig Neal and the Lobos are looking for answers.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Tuesday's game against the Lobos Colorado State had lost three straight games including a blowout at home to Wyoming. It's very similar to the  Utah State game were the Aggies were struggling and the Lobos had come off a tough loss New Mexico was run out of Logan by USU.

Last night the Lobos were embarrassed by a 6-8 Colorado State team. How can this happen to a team that swept Boise State and has blowout win in at the Save Mart Center against Fresno State? Was it lack of Effort and Motivation like Craig Neal mentioned? Have the players given up on the coach as many callers to local radio have suggested? Or is this the sign of a young team that has hit the wall? Here are a few examples of what wrong last night and what the Lobos must do to correct them.

Point Guard play: The Lobos have three point guards on the roster, well two considering Cullen Neal is shooting guard playing out of position. The Lobos seem to have trouble starting their offense when not on a fast break it is the point guard's responsibility to make the ball move or penetrate when he sees an opening to either open up the post or free up the shooters and while this happened a few times in the first half with but once the wheels fell of the team once again became a jump shooting team.

If the Lobos are going to have success Coach Neal must get more production from this position. While Cullen Neal has been playing in control lately he had 10 points four assists and three turnovers in 34 minutes.  It just seems like Neal's head is still not in the right place he is not hitting shots like he used to. Playing Neal for 34 minutes might not be what is best for the team if the Lobo are going to succeed over the next three games there has to be a better mix .

Jordan Hunter would be the prime candidate he needs to see at least 15 minutes per game he is the team's best pure point guard and while he makes some mistakes( like throwing the ball to Xavier Adams who was on his way to the scorer's table) he needs to be given a longer leash he needs to have the ability to learn on the job.

He played seven minutes against CSU had two points and two turnovers  but was pulled whenever he made a mistake getting him on the floor more will all Cullen to move to Shooting guard a little more when Elijah Brown is not in the game and maybe a few open shots will help him gain some confidence.

Tim Jacobs who is the Lobos third point guard is more like a break glass in case of an emergency kind of guy; he played five minutes against CSU and had not stats. He ran the offense in the incredible comeback against Boise State. Jacobs is not a scorer he will make the occasional shot be he should only be used if the Lobos need help breaking the press or just need to slow things down a bit.

Defense: The defensive effort against the Rams was terrible and while Coach Craig Neal called out Elijah Brown without mentioning his name it's a team game and the Lobos were bad as a team.  How do you allow a team that had been struggling to make 12 three point baskets?

You fail to rotate on the zone and close out on shooters with your hands down. The Rams did a good job attacking the middle of the New Mexico zone defense in the first half which caused the Lobos to collapse in the second half allowing the Rams a lot of wide open shots. The tape is now out on the Lobos good ball movement and attacking the middle will lead to open shots.

The Lobos must rededicate them self's you cannot teach effort and hustle and last night that's what the Lobos lacked.  They have between now and Saturday to find some intensity because Fresno State and Marvell Harris come to town Saturday. If the Lobos put up the same effort they did Tuesday Harris may go for 50, he is an explosive scorer and has scored over 20 points six of the last seven games.

Elijah Brown: Browns defense is not the issue it's the fact that every Lobo not named Tim Williams waits for Brown to get hot when the team is struggling but Colorado State decided they were going to take Brown out of the game and they did. He only had two really good shots the rest of his 16 points were just Brown trying to find a way to get some points.

Brown is a dynamic player probably the best scorer in the Mountain West but he is going to have down games and when he does other Lobos must be willing to pick up the slack. When the team knows the opposition is locking down on Brown Somebody has to take initiative and make some shots. Balanced scoring will prevent teams from focusing on Brown.

Right now teams are not afraid of Logwood, Neal or Aget as they have not shown the ability to constantly score and Tuesday evening was an example of this.  Off the bench Dane Kuiper and Anthony Mathis have shown they have ability to make shots and create offense but the freshman play inconstant minutes and have the same short leash that Jordan Hunter has.