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Friday, December 19, 2014

New Mexico men take second loss in last three games

assistantsports@dailylobo.com
@JROppenheim

After the first half Monday, the No. 20 New Mexico Lobos had more turnovers than points against Saint Louis. Those struggles are difficult to overcome.

The Lobos, who returned to the national rankings earlier Monday, committed 21 total turnovers in a 60-46 road loss to the Billikens. UNM (13-2) had 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes while scoring just 13 points. Its 33-13 first-half deficit is the lowest since 2005.

For the game, Saint Louis (10-3) turned the Lobo turnovers into 30 points, accounting for half its total scoring. The Billikens had a 22-2 first-half advantage in points off turnovers and in one first-half stretch, UNM turned the ball over on seven straight possessions.

The setback is UNM’s second in three outings after a 12-0 start to the season. UNM head coach Steve Alford was ejected midway through the second half after being called for a double technical foul.

UNM had one of its worst shooting performances of the season, hitting 31.8 percent of its shots from the field (14 of 44). The Lobos shot under 40 percent for the second straight game after firing 38 percent last Wednesday at Cincinnati.

Only three Lobos – junior guard Kendall Williams, sophomore center Alex Kirk and junior forward Cameron Bairstow – had more than one field goal. Williams led the Lobos’ in scoring with 15 points but he missed nine of his 14 attempts. Kirk joined Williams in double-figure scoring 13 points, sinking 4 of 9 field goals.

Senior forward Cory Remekun made all but two of his nine shots, leading Saint Louis with 15 points. Senior forward Cody Ellis added 13 points for the Billikens, and junior guard Mike McCall Jr. scored 12. Saint Louis was 40.4 percent from the field. Saint Louis led by as many as 21 points in the second half.

From the foul line, UNM was 15 of 20 and Saint Louis was 13 of 19.

UNM was ranked as high as 16th in The Associated Press Top 25 before dropping out with a loss to unranked South Dakota State. The Lobos regained a poll spot with last week’s road win against then-No. 8 Cincinnati.