University of New Mexico head coach Paul Weir said that his team would likely need a flawless performance on Saturday evening to upset No.23 Arizona.
The Lobos did not play a flawless game and Arizona managed to leave the Pit with a 15-point win, but Weir’s young Lobos played well against the Wildcats in arguably the team’s best performance of the season.
Dane Kuiper led the Lobos in scoring with 24 points on 7-10 shooting from the floor and 4-4 shooting from the line. The Wasilla, Alaska native set a personal best in points scored, and three-point baskets made, nailing six of eight shots from behind the arc.
Troy Simons was second in scoring for the Lobos with 12 points off the bench, while Sam Logwood added eight points and four rebounds in his first action after leaving the team last week for personal reasons. Logwood did not start, but his presence was evident and his return gave the Lobos a spark.
Guards Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier combined for 46 points and seven assists to lead the Wildcats. The duo made 14 of 20 shots from the floor and a perfect five for five from behind the arc as part of an impressive shooting display by the entire Arizona squad.
The Wildcats made 64% of their shots from the floor and 69% from the three-point line, while the Lobos shot 39% from the floor and 35% from downtown.
7-foot-1 center and likely future NBA player Deandre Ayton dominated the paint against the smaller Lobos with 13 rebounds and 14 points. Ayton outrebounded the entire starting five of the Lobos while providing a force down low to limit points in the paint by UNM.
After heading into the break down 49-33, the Lobos came out of the locker room a refreshed and focused unit. Led by Kuiper’s three-point shooting, frenetic full-court press defense, and a loud Pit crowd, the Lobos played the Wildcats even 40-40 in the second period.
Losers of eight of their last nine games, the Lobos will look to rite the ship on Tuesday against Rice at DreamStyle Arena. Like the Lobos, the Owls are off to a slow start with a 3-8 record and enter the contest after losing to No. Texas Tech on Saturday.
The Wildcats return home for a three-game homestand against North Dakota State, Connecticut, and No. 5 Arizona State.