NCAA Basketball Mountain West BasketballNew Mexico Lobos

New Mexico Proving They’re Contenders in Mountain West

Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

With a 66-61 overtime victory over the Wyoming Cowboys, the New Mexico Lobos are proving to be a threat to dethrone the San Diego State Aztecs from the top of the MWC. The Lobos were led by Cameron Bairstow, who scored 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting and Alex Kirk, who had a big second half, scoring 13 of his 15 points after the break. The win puts the Lobos at 9-1 in conference play and just a half game behind the Aztecs in the standings.

San Diego State has received most of the attention in the conference, but New Mexico deserves to be in the conversation as well. The Lobos have some solid wins on the season with a victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats being one for example, and only have one blemish on their record so far in conference play.

If the Lobos keep winning, New Mexico’s matchup with the Aztecs in just over two weeks could be a crucial game in the conference title race. Whoever wins that game would find themselves as the favorite to win the regular season title.

New Mexico has the players to match up with the talented Aztecs team. The Lobos have a powerful duo inside in Bairstow and Kirk that would matchup well with the bigs of San Diego State’s bigs. Both players are scoring threats as they average 20 and 13.9 points per game respectively, and they also both attack the glass well. Rebounding has been a way that San Diego State has won games this season, and New Mexico’s duo could stop that.

The Lobos also have a lot of talent in their backcourt. Kendall Williams has done a nice job running the team this season, averaging 17.6 points and 5.3 assists per game, while Hugh Greenwood has been a do-itall guard this season, averaging 6.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Add in Cullen Neal, a top recruit scoring eight points per game off the bench, and New Mexico has a deep and talented team that can match up very well with the Aztecs.

Currently, New Mexico is on a collision course with San Diego State to decide the conference champion. With both meetings between the two schools coming in the last three weeks of the season, it will be a race that goes right down to the wire.

Spencer Impellizzeri is a MLB and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Spence_I