The New Mexico Lobos bid for a perfect NCAA Basketball season came to an end on Saturday with a 65-70 loss. The Lobos were defeated by the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The game leaves the Lobos with a 12-1 record before Thursday’s key matchup against undefeated Cincinnati. New Mexico was one of three unbeaten teams to lose on Saturday, leaving only four ranked undefeated teams.
Coach Steve Alford benched two of his starters, after they came to the game late. Kendall Williams and Chad Adams both sat out the first six minutes of the game. Williams would later enter the game and lead the Lobos with 21 points, but the team struggled to find a rhythm early on and trailed in the game the entire last 37 minutes of the game. Alford had this to say to the media, “They were late getting to the game. I have no idea how that happens. If you’re a believer in Santa Claus, I hope they get some alarm clocks.” Williams leads the team with a 14.8 point per game average.
If you’re a New Mexico fan, you should be buying an alarm clock for the two players right now. On Thursday, the team takes on Cincinnati in what should be a true test of how good the Lobos are. Given some tough competition in the Mountain West, New Mexico is not an automatic for the NCAA Tournament come March. Currently UNLV and San Diego State are both ranked. Also in the Mountain West is unbeaten Wyoming (12-0), who could make some noise in the conference.
New Mexico also needs to shoot the ball better. In the game against South Dakota State, the Lobos shot 37% from the field. The team ranks 233rd in the NCAA with a 42% field goal rate. The team also ranks low in points per game (106th), rebound (160th) and assists (97th). The team did have one quality win against a previously ranked Connecticut squad, but they will really need to put a good effort against Cincinnati to make some noise before league play.