After losing two consecutive games, each by 22 points or more, the Lobos (15-5, 4-3) return to The Pit on Tuesday, still looking for answers. UNM has struggled to defend the three or have any presence in the paint in both losses.
And now, they return home to face a San Jose State (6-13, 2-5) team that has already defeated the Lobos once. It almost has the feel of a must-win game. Sure, the Lobos are favored by 11.5 points, and they’re undefeated at home this season, but this isn’t the same team as there was even two weeks ago.
It’s not the same team as before the suspensions of JJ Caldwell and Carlton Bragg Jr.
Despite the poor results, there were some positives from the game against UNLV. In a bounce-back performance, the Lobos had five players finish in double figures, and Corey Manigault picked up eleven more rebounds.
The problems for the Lobos came from being unable to stop UNLV at the offensive end. Fifteen offensive rebounds helped give the Rebels a twelve shot advantage and plenty more scoring opportunities. The Spartans don’t shoot as well as the Rebels, but they’ve already shocked UNM once.
Richard Washington scores 25 points off the bench in the first meeting this season, shooting over 50% from three-point range. The Lobos’ inability to stop the deep ball has been their undoing at times this season, and it opens the door for San Jose to perhaps steal a win in Albuquerque.
While a loss wouldn’t end the Lobos season, it would mean a much tougher road if they want to go dancing in March. A win could be the spark to set the Lobos back on the right track. With three games in a row at home due up on the schedule, now is the time for this team to start finding answers.
Tuesday’s game is slated for an 8 p.m. tip-off from Dreamstyle Arena. Fans will be able to watch the game live on AT&T SportsNet.