San Diego St.-New Mexico Preview
New Mexico’s start in Mountain West play began ominously enough
with a loss at San Diego State, but the 15th-ranked Lobos have
rebounded to stay in contention for a conference title.
New Mexico looks to win its seventh straight Saturday when it
hosts the Aztecs.
The Lobos (20-3, 6-2) lost their first two league games after a
dominating run through their non-conference schedule. They
struggled at San Diego State on Jan. 5 to open the Mountain West
season, shooting 35.1 percent in a 74-64 loss.
That defeat, along with one four days later to UNLV, dropped New
Mexico out of the Top 25 after the team began the week ranked
“There’s a lot of irony,” coach Steve Alford said Thursday.
“Here we are four weeks later and we’re ranked 15th in the country
again. We’re going to try and redeem ourselves a little bit. …
Hopefully the second time around it works better.”
The Lobos have followed the loss to UNLV with six consecutive
victories by an average of 13.3 points. They’re tied with the
Rebels for second place in the Mountain West, one game behind
New Mexico is coming off a 73-57 win at TCU last Saturday as
Darington Hobson had 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and
Hobson, the Lobos’ leading scorer at 15.0 points per game, had
scored a combined 19 in the previous three games and shot 1 of 11
for five points in a win over first-place BYU earlier in the
“The games that I’ve been struggling, I felt like I was forcing
it,” said Hobson, who was 6 of 8 from the field last Saturday.
“Coaches said that I really wasn’t. I just had to get back to being
Hobson also struggled against San Diego State, finishing with 12
points on 4-of-17 shooting.
The Lobos resume play this weekend after securing their third
straight 20-win season under Alford. New Mexico is looking to
improve on a 13-1 record at home, where it’s holding opponents to
39.3 percent shooting.
While San Diego State got the better of the Lobos in their last
meeting, Alford expects a different effort from his team. They will
be looking to win seven straight conference games for the first
time since 1997-98.
“Winning six in a row, I think our demeanor is different,” he
said. “Will that make a difference in Saturday’s game? I don’t
know, but we’ve at least experienced this. … This team is pretty
good at learning from mistakes.”
San Diego State (16-6, 5-3), though, has won four of five,
including a 70-48 victory over Air Force on Tuesday. Kawhi Leonard
scored 15 points and Malcolm Thomas had 10 points and 12
“It was important,” said D.J. Gay, who had nine points and four
assists. “We needed it going into New Mexico. … I think this game
we took it to another level. We were doing things out there we
weren’t doing in practice – switching, just being more vocal and
The game especially was important for Thomas, one of four
players averaging better than 10.0 points per game. He was held to
a combined seven points in the previous two games after reaching
double figures in six straight. He scored 18 and had 15 rebounds
against New Mexico.
The Lobos had lost three straight at home against San Diego
State before a 75-49 victory last season.