Call it a perfect week. Although, surely coach Paul Weir might think differently. Nonetheless the New Mexico Lobos went 2-0 this week; starting off with a 78-64 win over Fresno State on Tuesday and then beating Air Force 84-78 on Saturday. Both wins in The Pit give UNM a 14-game home winning streak dating back to last season.
A tale of two games:
Against Fresno State it was Vance Jackson leading the way for New Mexico with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Against Air Force, though, Jackson struggled, scoring only five points against the Falcons.
JaQuan Lyle had a solid game against Fresno State, scoring 14 points and dishing out 10 assists. His ability to drive to the basket came up big against the Falcons on Saturday. Lyle came away with 20 points but fouled out late.
The Lobos had balance on offense in both games. Four players scored in double figures against Fresno State, while it was five different players going into double figures against Air Force. The Lobos will continue to need balance if they want to compete for the Mountain West title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Against Fresno State we indicated that Vance Jackson was the x-factor. His offensive prowess paid off with a huge game, the aforementioned 29 points and 13 rebounds. In the contest with Air Force we said that Carlton Bragg Jr. would have to be the x-factor going up against Falcons center Ryan Swan. Swan had been a thorn in Utah State’s side on Tuesday, scoring 31 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. In this contest Swan was held to 10 points and seven rebounds, thanks to big play from Bragg and Corey Manigault.
Bragg’s 25 minutes wore on Swan. Carlton grabbed six rebounds on the defensive end. He ended with seven rebounds total and chipped in 10 points coming off the bench.
With Bragg having two games now under his belt following his suspension he should be a force to reckoned with the rest of the season, barring injury, or another suspension of course.
With the win the Lobos are now 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the MWC. With Nevada losing against Utah State on Saturday, UNM is now tied with just UNLV for second place in the conference with two big road games coming up.
The Lobos will visit Colorado State on Wednesday night, then will travel to meet the aforementioned UNLV in Las Vegas next Saturday. New Mexico lost both visits to UNLV and Colorado State last season; to UNLV 74-58 and to Colorado State 91-76. This year should be different with New Mexico much more improved over last season and Colorado State struggling.
A win against the Rams would set up the contest with UNLV which would be for sole possession of second place in the MWC.
Wednesday night’s game will tip at 7 p.m. Mountain and be on ESPN3. Saturday’s game with UNLV will be on CBS Sports Network and the tip for that contest is at 4 p.m. Mountain time. Of course if you cannot make it to a television, or computer, there’s the UNM Sports Radio Network where one can find on the TuneIn App by searching for KKOB, or finding an affiliate across New Mexico.