After suffering another blowout at the hands of San Diego State, the Lobos (17-9, 6-7) can finally put the toughest stretch of the season behind them. While the Lobos and their fans won’t be excited about the outcome of those games, there’s reason to believe that the team can build some momentum ahead of the conference tournament.
Of the five remaining regular-season games, three of them are at The Pit. During this Jekyll and Hyde season, they have been significantly better at home, where they have a 14-1 record. Even after losing big during the away trip to this weekend’s opponent, UNLV (12-14, 7-6), their home prowess plays a huge factor in UNM being favored on Saturday.
With the team as close 100 percent as they can be, they showed last weekend against Wyoming how dangerous they could be. In that game, three different Lobos broke the 20 point mark.
During the rough stretch of the season, Corey Manigault has stepped up and shown that he can be a leader. The senior forward is averaging 12.7 points per game and will be one of the keys to beating UNLV. The last time the two teams met, Manigault had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Despite his efforts, though, the Lobos were handily defeated.
Had it not been for Rebels sophomore Bryce Hamilton, it might have been a different story. Of the five Rebels to reach double digits that night, Hamilton was by far the most effective. Shooting 14 of 19 from the field, he proved to be unstoppable, ultimately finishing the night with 35 points.
If the Lobos hope to return to the win column, they will have to find a way to account for Hamilton, without giving up space to Nick Blair. With how this team has performed at home, they will have every reason to want to defend their home court. Although the NCAA tournament is out of reach through the regular season results, a strong showing in the conference tournament could potentially still get the Lobos into the NIT.
Saturday’s game is set for a 4 p.m. (Mountain) tip from The Pit. Fans not in attendance can catch the game live on CBS Sports Network.