The University of New Mexico Lobos and Arizona Wildcats renewed a long standing rivalry when the two teams faced off at the McKale center on Tuesday. It was the first meeting in 17 years in a rivalry that dates back nearly a century.
With the No. 18 Wildcats crushing the Lobos 77-46, perhaps the Lobos will look to avoid playing Arizona again in the the near future.
The Lobos were outmatched in nearly every facet of the game, allowing five Wildcats to finish with double digits, led by sophomore center Chance Comanche’s 13 points off the bench.
Arizona out rebounded New Mexico 49-30, including five early offensive rebounds that helped fuel an early 12-0 deficit for the Lobos to start the game.
UNM missed their first 11 shots in route to a dismal 26.2% shooting night from the field. The only bright spot for the Lobos was the fact that they ended with four less turnovers than the Wildcats.
“It’s my fault,” said UNM coach Craig Neal in an interview after the game with Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal.
“I thought we’d be ready. I thought we’d really compete. We just didn’t compete at a high level. I thought we were prepared. I thought our guys were ready. We looked a little shell-shocked. I don’t know if it was their size, their physicality. But when you get down 11-0, we just couldn’t get back over the hump.”
Neal continues to look for the right formula with a new starting lineup for the second consecutive game. Two players in the starting lineup, Joe Furstinger and Aher Uguak, failed to score a point in 22 combined minutes of action, while star Elijah Brown scored 17 points off the bench in 25 minutes of action.
“We’re trying to do some things and teach guys how to play the right way,” Neal said. “Right now we’re in a situation where we’re just trying to grow and get better. Guys are going to play the right way and guys are going to do what we ask them to do defensively and offensively. I think we’re making some strides.”
Restless Lobo fans may not be as optimistic as Neal when it comes to the team making strides. UNM is now 7-5 on the season with Mountain West Conference games set to start next Tuesday against Fresno State.