Thursday, December 5, 2013

UNM: Three keys (and 1) unlocked

The Lobos won their sixth straight game in Las Cruces, 79-70 on Wednesday at the Pan American Center.

The Aggies were surprisingly not ready to play. I would say that's the first time this season, but in a big game it was kind of a letdown and Marvin Menzies certainly was not pleased.

"We had too many mental breakdowns and didn't handle the pressures of this game, the magnitude and what it means for the city and the college," Menzies said.

It certainly doesn't get any easier. The Aggies play at Gonzaga this weekend followed by a mid week game at Arizona, which will likely be ranked No. 1 in the country after North Carolina's victory over Michigan State tonight.

I know that Aggies coaches didn't overlook any of the Lobos players, but I certainly was surprised by Cameron Bairstow. He is a handful for NMSU, and without Remi Barry in the rotation, Renaldo Dixon called for post players to, " focus on getting in shape so we can play more minutes with Remi out. We try to attack the bigs and get them in foul trouble and get into their bench."

Onto the keys

Transition defense: Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi were gassed out there tonight. I think Remi Barry's absence will be felt in certain matchups but few teams will have the physical presence the Lobos have with Bairstow and Kirk.

Offensive rebounding: The boards were also basically a wash. NMSU out rebounded UNM 37-36. The Lobos did have 12 offensive rebounds but the Aggies had 15. Both teams scored 11 second chance points.

Go inside early and often: The Aggies did this, getting Alex Kirk in early foul trouble with two fouls. Kirk only played six minutes in the first half, problem was Chili Nephawe missed his first three shots, all from close range. NMSU went inside but Nephawe (1-6 first half) and Sim Bhullar (1-3 first half)

Three point line: A big win for the Lobos here. Marvin Menzies talked about it postgame, but the Aggies 0-5 effort in the first half and  and 4-19 (21 percent) never forced UNM to come out of its 2-3 zone to start the game. With an ineffective post game, Daniel Mullings was the only player capable of mounting any offense. UNM shot the Aggies out of their zone by making their first four 3s (6-12 for the game) allowing Kendall Williams to get into the lane and the foul line (12-15) and forced the Aggies to try to guard Cameron Bairstow man to man, which did not go well.

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