Not much has gone right for the Lobos (16-7, 5-5) over the past month and a half. Sure, they extended a home unbeaten streak to 15 games, but on the road, it fell apart, at least on the court.
Off the court, the issues have piled up, and the team was hit with another this week. JaQuan Lyle was suspended for two games for conduct detrimental to the team. It’s almost laughable what this year’s team has gone through.
On the bright side, freshman Bayron Matos officially enrolled at the school a semester early, but whether or not he’ll play remains to be seen. Outside of that, no real good has come out of the program recently.
Without Lyle and other starters, the Lobos fell to undefeated San Diego State on Wednesday. The 28 point loss was just the latest in a series of blowouts suffered by UNM this season. This one stung just a bit more since it broke the home winning streak. Once again, the Lobos had no answer for the deep ball and couldn’t find any rhythm to start the game.
Now, after losing four of five, the Lobos are an 8.5 point underdog to the Fresno State Bulldogs (7-14, 3-7) on Saturday. That’s right. They are listed as underdogs to a team with a losing record. Their play of late certainly doesn’t scream that they should be favored, or that this group of players can pull it out a win on the road.
The Lobos have lost their last four road games by an average margin of 19.7 points. The offense is still putting up points, but slow starts and poor defending have been their downfall. With multiple players still out, it’s hard to expect anything different this weekend. To their benefit, though, Fresno State struggles to score, averaging only 68.2 points per game.
For the Lobos to get back into the win column, they need to slow down Bulldog forwards Nate Grimes and Orlando Robinson. Grimes is arguably the harder of the two to contain, especially on the glass and will cause mismatches for the undersized Lobos. When not in a zone, Corey Manigault will likely draw Grimes’ number.
There is some hope for the Lobos that after this weekend that Lyle and Vance Jackson will return soon. Lyle will be reinstated for the next game, while Jackson could be medically cleared to play. The next two games could serve as a chance for UNM to reset themselves and get back on track.
Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. (Mountain) tip-off from Save Mart Center in Fresno. The game will be broadcast live on AT&T Sportsnet.