- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Midway through the first half, with New Mexico State guard Ian Baker lying motionless, Wednesday’s game with rival New Mexico changed.

“I just feel bad that Ian Baker got hurt and that hurt them,” said Lobos coach Craig Neal. “When they have their second-best player and maybe their glue get hurt, kind of like Devon (Williams) did, it kind of takes the wind out of everybody’s sails. I think it took the energy out of the game, his injury.”

New Mexico (7-2) was able to muster energy to hold off the Aggies (5-5) just as it did earlier in the season in Las Cruces when forward Williams suffered an injury that later revealed a career-ending spinal condition.

Baker, who is second on the team in scoring, suffered a head injury after running into a screen at midcourt. He lay motionless for about 10 minutes before slowly getting up and walking to the bench. New Mexico State spokesman Bill Powers said Baker is under the concussion protocol.

But Baker’s absence certainly hurt New Mexico State, said Aggies coach Marin Menzies.

“He’s one of our two backcourt guys,” he said. “It’s one of those deals where we were not going to be able to compete at our highest levels without our highest guys.”

Pascal Siakam had 21 for the Aggies and Tanveer Bhullar added nine points and nine rebounds.

But it wasn’t enough to offset Lobos guard Elijah Brown, who did a bit of everything with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Tim Williams added 18 points and seven boards and Cullen Neal had 13 points and a career-high nine assists.

Sparked by three straight 3-pointers early, Lobos used a 10-1 run that put them up 16-9 early. The Aggies never got closer than five points the rest of the game.

During that opening stretch of the second half, Siakam picked up his third and fourth fouls.

New Mexico State particularly struggled from the line, going 13-for-29, and also missed all seven 3-point attempts.

Other playing with some grit, the Lobos didn’t particularly have a great game, coach Neal said.

“I don’t want anybody to take this the wrong way, but I feel really good that you can win with the margin that we won on and be disappointed on how we played,” he said. “I don’t think we played sharp. I don’t think we played with a lot of energy. I thought we were stagnant. That’s what happens with a young team, with a team that’s trying to find their way.

TIP INS: New Mexico improved to 6-0 at home this season. The Lobos have held their last five opponents to less than 30-percent on 3-pointers. New Mexico has won 15 of 17 meetings between the schools.

With a block, Siakam moved into New Mexico State’s career top10 in the category. Before Wednesday, the Aggies season on 3-pointers was the two they hit in their last outing against Wyoming.

UP NEXT: New Mexico is home Saturday against Rice at 6 p.m. and New Mexico State travels UTEP on Saturday at 7 p.m.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide