When the Lobos jumped out to an early 10 point lead with 12:23 left in the first half on a Jeremiah Francis jumper, it looked like UNM finally broke their recent string of slow starts.
Things looked promising when the Lobos led for all but a few minutes of the first half and headed to the locker room with a two-point lead.
Then the second half started, and Lobos reverted to their poor offensive ways of missing free throws and open looks while turning the ball over at an unsustainable rate.
UNM scored just 18 points in the second half, shooing a shocking 20% from the floor and 57% from the free throw line.
The Rebels were not much better in what should be described as a sloppy, ugly game.
The difference is the Rebels feature the second-best scorer in the Mountain West Conference in Bryce Hamilton, who took over when his team needed him most with a game-high 14 points, including three big baskets in the second half to pull away.
Saquan Singleton led UNM with 11 points on 4 of 9 shooting, while forward Valdir Manuel added ten points and five rebounds.
It isn’t easy to win a basketball game when you make just five baskets as a team in the second half. It is even more difficult when you turn the ball over 20 times and make only half of your 12 free throw attempts.
There is no way to sugar coat it for New Mexico fans. The Lobos are young, inexperienced, turn over the ball too much, lack a genuine scoring threat like Hamilton, and do not take advantage of free throws.
They did play better defense in this second of two games against the Rebels. Still, with all of the negative factors on offense and the difficulties of having to practice and play all of their games on the road, it makes you seriously wonder if they will go winless in conference play this season.
UNM’s best chance to log their first conference victory and get off the schneid will be in their next two games against the San José State Spartans, a team who, like the Lobos, has yet to log a conference victory in 2020-21.
The Lobos take on the Spartans in a two-game series starting on 1/21 at 1:00 pm.
Image Credit: GoLobos.com