Mercer loses to No. 25 New Mexico 76-58

Mercer coach Bob Hoffman got a good look at No. 25 New Mexico

when the two teams played in the same tournament in the Virgin

Islands recently.

He didn’t like what he saw when Mercer lost to New Mexico 76-50

on Wednesday night.

”Their team in general, they fit really good together,”

Hoffman said of the Lobos. ”I think they’ve got great pieces and

I’m sure if you’re a fan just watching them, they’re fun to watch.

If you’re an opposing coach, it’s not a whole lot of fun to

watch.”

The Bears (3-4) fell behind early and did not do a very good job

of playing catch up.

”We knew we were going to have to mix it up some defensively

because they execute their offense so well,” Hoffman said. ”I

thought we did that to some degree. We had them standing, but not

very long. But a little bit here and there. I thought that kept us

in the game. We just didn’t execute ourselves. Of course, you can

contribute that to their defensive play to making that

happen.”

New Mexico’s inside duo of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow

combined for 32 points and 18 rebounds, proving to be too much for

the Bears to handle.

”I thought our bigs would be able to compete a little better,”

Hoffman said.

It didn’t help that Mercer point guard Langston Hall is still

finding his way in just his second game back after sitting because

of an injured ankle.

”Our point guard is still hobbled, trying to get back, Langston

Hall, who is a really good player,” Hoffman said. ”I’m glad he’s

on our team. He’s going to continue to get stronger.”

Hall finished 2 for 10 from the field with five points. He had

three assists, but had four turnovers. Travis Smith scored 16

points to lead the Bears, but he shot just 6 of 14 and made only 1

of 6 3-pointers.

New Mexico’s defense forced 17 turnovers.

”I think defensively we’ve seen a lot of progress,” New Mexico

coach Steve Alford said. ”We’re not fouling. We’re making things

really difficult on opponents. We’re taking away what we want to

take away.”

The game turned early when the Lobos (7-0) delivered a 17-2 run

that put them up 19-5. New Mexico later added an eight-minute, 24-2

run that began midway through the second half, turning a 49-41

Lobos’ advantage into a 73-43 bulge.

”They’re a great team, well coached and they’re playing their

tails off,” Hoffman said of New Mexico. ”If they keep continuing

to work as hard as they do on their cuts and their execution,

they’re a handful because they have so many guys that can make

shots.”