AP Andy Carpenean/Laramie Boomerang
A.J. Hardeman may have single-handedly saved the Lobos chance at the Mountain West regular season title. With a 1-2 record coming into Laramie, the Lobos couldn’t afford to lose another early conference game, and Hardeman’s 18 points and 7 rebounds saved them from just that.
One of the other keys for the Lobos was to not foul the Cowboys, who had the most free-throw attempts in the nation coming into the game. Wyoming made only 11 of their 19 free-throw opportunities, making the Lobos free-throw problems look much better, but still present.
Roman Martinez is 13-47 from the three-point line in the Lobos last 8 games for 26% including an 0-6 outing in Wyoming. During that 8-game stretch New Mexico has gone 5-3. In the first 11 games of the season, Martinez was 40-83 from beyond the arc for 48% and the Lobos record? 11-0. Though Martinez’s shooting alone didn’t cause the Lobos to lose three games, it was definitely a factor. The positive outlook on this is that the Lobos can still win games with their best shooter missing wide-open shots. Unlike Lobo dead-eyes of the past, such as Troy DeVries and Chad Toppert, Martinez can offer a lot more to the team than just shooting. Martinez averages 6.3 rebounds per contest and has only had a total of 5 turnovers in his last 9 games.
Despite starting slowly, and going relatively unnoticed for the past couple of weeks, Phillip McDonald hit 3 key three-pointers, the Lobos only threes of the entire game. McDonald scored 15 points for New Mexico along with 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
The Lobos’ 70-68 victory brings them close to the top of the conference, where BYU sits atop at 3-0. With UNLV and San Diego State both losing games they should have won, New Mexico’s 0-2 start doesn’t look as bad.