Just when it looked like the situation might improve for the Lobos (15-3, 4-1), the team was dealt yet another blow. After a brief return to the court, forward Carlton Bragg Jr. was dismissed from the team after being arrested on suspicion of DWI and possession of marijuana.
Bragg’s dismissal, and the continued suspension of JJ Caldwell, has the ability to completely overshadow everything that the Lobos have done or will do this season. Projected by TheMW.com to finish third in the conference, some of that came from the inclusion of those two players. Without them, who knows what could happen.
The Lobos have shown that they are capable of winning without them, but the conference schedule isn’t getting any easier.
Wednesday night, the Lobos head north to take on the Colorado State Rams (11-7, 2-3) in Fort Collins. Although they are 4-2 in the last games between them, the Lobos lost the road portion of the series last season, 91-76.
Each team currently has a two-game winning streak coming into play this week, although the Rams have come against a considerably easier schedule. Even with that, the Rams will provide a challenge for the current Lobo roster. Center Nico Carvacho, the 6’11” senior, has put together a stat line nearly identical Bragg’s. Averaging 12.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, Carvacho has positioned himself to be a player that other schools have to pay attention to.
Without Bragg, the Lobos will need to find a way to try and keep Carvacho from taking control of the game down low.
Corey Manigault will likely be the man tasked with keeping Carvacho under wraps or at least battling him under the boards. Manigault has stepped up in recent games and shown he is perhaps underrated around the net.
While the Rams aren’t a high scoring team, averaging only 73.1 points per game, the Lobos have to come out firing. Slow starts have plagued the Lobos this year, and it has often gotten them behind early. With any luck, Vance Jackson will continue having a hot hand and push the rest of the team early.
Jackson and JaQuan Lyle are two of the reasons the Lobos find themselves with the 18th ranked offense in the nation (80.6 points per game). The pair of guards need to find ways to get to the line, which the Lobos lead the nation in. As long as the Lobos can push the pace, prevent turnovers, and get off to a strong start, they stand a very good chance of extending that winning streak.
Wednesday’s game will be available to watch live on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. (Mountain), fans can visit WatchESPN.com.