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New Mexico Lobos Men’s Basketball – In The Pit

Sunday: New Mexico 109, Charleston Southern 93

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/

On the scoreboard, there really wasn’t much of an enemy for the New Mexico Lobos.  The Lobos  powered and ran past Charleston Southern 109-93  Sunday in The Pit.

On the floor, The Pit had a little fun with Buccaneer Saah Nimley, who became The Pit’s No. 1 enemy due to some minor entanglements with a few Lobos.    It was a helpful distraction to keep The Pit into this game.

It wasn’t much of a game and probably would have been worse if Coach Craig Neal’s Lobos would have played defense the way he wanted them to play.

“A win is a win,“ said Neal. “I’m not real happy. I’m embarrassed we gave up 93 points. I’m embarrassed by the way we guarded in the second half. We have a lot to work on defensively. I thought we had some breakdowns in the second half.”

The first half was pretty much what Neal wanted to see.  His Lobos went into the half up 52-36 and held the Buccaneers to 26.7 percent shooting from long range.

The Lobos simply had too much height, too much depth and too many weapons for the Buccaneers, who tried to bomb their way into the game and back into the game. They shot 57.9 percent from 3-point range in the second half.

“My hats off to them,” said Neal of the Bucs. “I like the way they play and they have really good guards

“We still have some issues with people not handling their roles. They know I’m not happy.”

Said Cameron Bairstow: "It's had to keep that killer mindset.  We can't relax on teams."

The second 20 minutes wasn’t too bad for the Bucs.  They scored 57 points to match the Lobos’ effort on the scoreboard.  But UNM was deep into its bench and had ridden a 16-point lead into the second half.

“The second half I think our guys got very lackadaisical,” said Neal. “I think the game kind of got out of hand and became an up-and-down type of game.

“I’m very proud of the way Cameron and Kirk played.  I just wish we would have guarded better.”

UNM had five players in double figures behind Cameron Bairstow’s career-high 29 points. Alex Kirk added 24 points and 13 boards as UNM’s Twin Towers was too much for the shorter Buccaneers.  UNM also got 20 points from Kendall Williams, 11 from Cullen Neal of the bench and 10 from Cleveland Thomas.

Bairstow went 11-of-16 from the free-throw line.

"If you stay aggressvie, it's not too difficult to pick up some fouls," said Bairstow referring to new rules that limit defensive contact.  

The Lobos ruled the glass 38-22 and shot 59.6 percent from the field.   The Buccaneers shot 57.1 percent in the second half and 47.5 percent for the game.  Southern went 15-of-34 from 3-point range – shooting more treys than field goals.  The Buccaneers were 28-of-59 from the field.

The Lobos broke out of a small 21-19 hole in the first half and used a nice inside-outside game to claim a 52-36 halftime lead.  Southern made a series of treys to hang around early in the second half, but UNM also answered with treys from Thomas and Greenwood.  At the 15:02 break, UNM had extended its 16-point halftime lead to 71-51.

When UNM went up 77-51, Southern called time with 13:17 to play.  UNM came out of that huddle and got a Neal trey and a Greenwood layup: 82-51. It was getting ugly on the board and Coach Neal used the spacing to go deep into his bench.

At the 11:17 media stop, Greenwood was the only UNM starter on the floor in part because he only played six minutes in the first half due to foul problems. Southern managed to cut UNM’s lead to inside 20 points and Neal put his starters back on the floor.  At the 3:49 stop, UNM was up 101-82 with Kirk providing the 100th point on a layup.

The Lobos cruised into the 109-93 final to go 2-0 on the season. The Buccaneers had five players in double figures with 24 coming from Nimley, who went 15-of-17 from the free-throw line. 

First Half:  New Mexico 52, Charleston Southern 36

The Lobos had the height advantage and went to it. Charleston Southern was athletic and quick, but did not have the same weapons possessed by the Lobos. UNM ran and powered to an 18-point halftime lead. Southern hung around early and actually held a 21-19 lead before the Lobos took control of the final 12 minutes.

Bairstow led all scorers with 21. Williams added 11 points and Kirk was the top board man with eight. The Lobos ended the half with a 24-12 lead on the glass. UNM’s aggression on offense gave the Lobos a 14-23 edge at the line. Southern was 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.

UNM shot 60.7 percent from the field and held Southern to 38.7 percent.  Southern had no player in the half with more than two rebounds. Paul Gombwer had nine points.

Southern used two turnovers and the free-throw line to help them go up 16-15 at the 13:12 mark.  Southern broke UNM’s full-court press for a layup: 18-16.  Southern hit a trey to go up 21-19, before Bairstow scored inside to from a 21-21 tie.

That count carried into the media break at 11:15. UNM had 11 points from Bairstow. Southern had gone 3-of-7 from long range. UNM was shooting 53.3 percent and Southern was close at 50 percent. The Lobos needed to play better defense.

The Lobos got a little separation heading into the media stop at 7:06. UNM was up 34-27 using back-to-back treys by Edwards and Williams to help form that seven-point lead.  UNM was shooting 57.9 percent and Southern had faded to 42.9 percent.  The UNM defense was improving. UNM had a 16-8 edge on the boards.

UNM went up eight, 37-29, on a Kirk dunk. He turned it into a 3-point play with a free throw: 38-29.  The Lobos then went on a run that ignited The Pit. Neal got a steal and a layup: 40-29.  Bairstow dunked off a Neal pass: 42-29. Williams stole the in-bounds that led to a trey by Deshawn Delaney.  UNM was up 45-29 and taking control of the tempo and the game. UNM finally went into the locker room up 52-36.


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