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Redshirt junior forward Tim Williams, hangs on to a dunk at WisePies Arena Wednesday night. The Lobos beat NMSU 79-61 and will play Rice this Saturday.  

Redshirt junior forward Tim Williams, hangs on to a dunk at WisePies Arena Wednesday night. The Lobos beat NMSU 79-61 and will play Rice this Saturday.  

Men's basketball: Lobos sweep New Mexico State...again

Lobos get 15th win in last 18 meetings with in-state rival Aggies

The Rio Grande Rivalry continues to be a one-sided affair.

New Mexico yet again swept the yearly home-and-home series with in-state foe New Mexico State Wednesday night at WisePies Arena, capturing a 79-61 victory over the Aggies.

The win marks the 15th time in the last 18 meetings where the Lobos prevailed. They have also taken both games in a year eight times since 2003. With the lopsided turn this series has taken, some fans are beginning to dismiss UNM-NMSU as a “true” rivalry game.

In the eyes of the coaches and players, it still is. Craig Neal, who’s been a part of the rivalry as an assistant and now head coach, said it has come as a surprise that his Lobos have been so successful against NMSU in recent years.

“Yeah, I am surprised,” Neal said, “but I've got to give to all the guys who plays for us for nine years. We've just been very fortunate to win some close ones. We're fortunate.”

The Lobos placed four players in double figures with guard Elijah Brown scoring 20 points and forward Tim Williams adding 18. In rebounding, Brown pulled down eight with Williams grabbing seven.

After a poor shooting night against Northern Iowa, guard Cullen Neal returned to double figures with a 13-point effort with nine assists. He had been 1 of 11, including missing all five 3-point attempts against the Panthers. He came out 4 of 11 Wednesday, with three triples.

“I just have to keep affecting the game,” he said. “Even though I don't shoot well, I've got to keep affecting the game whether I be setting up my teammates, rebounding the ball, playing good defense, either way.”

Forward Sam Logwood also netted 10 points for UNM.

UNM contained the Aggies from long range for the second time this season, holding them scoreless in 3-pointers on seven attempts. Last time around, NMSU finished 5 of 24 from 3-point range.

The Aggies in 2015-16 resemble somewhat the same situation Neal’s Lobos found themselves in last year’s 15-16 campaign, Neal said. That year the Lobos lost prominent players Cameron Bairstow, Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk struggled. NMSU, meanwhile, lost key contributors like Daniel Mullings, DK Eldridge and Tshildzi Nephawe from their WAC championship team.

“I think they're going through the same lull that we had last year when we lost our guys,” Craig Neal said, “and they lost significant, significant guys that won a lot of championships for them and played in the NCAA tournament.”

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To help fill those gaps this year, the Aggies look to forward Pascal Siakam and guard Ian Baker. The duo has emerged as the two best players on the roster, but both players were hampered in Wednesday’s game.

Baker’s loss was particularly tough for the Aggies. He went down with an apparent neck injury in the first half when he collided with a UNM player setting a screen. Emergency personnel carted Baker out on a stretcher in a scene eerily reminiscent of one in Las Cruces several weeks ago, where Lobo Devon Williams needed medical attention.

Siakam, meanwhile, dealt with foul trouble after getting his fourth early in the second half, but he continued to lead NMSU. He registered a game-high 21 points in 29 minutes despite the foul situation.

Calls weren’t limited to Siakam. NMSU starting guard Matt Taylor also had four fouls while guard Jalyn Pennie had three.

Though not as prevalent in their first two meetings against teams with size (NMSU and Purdue), UNM’s bigs were whistled frequently. Center Obij Aget, center Nikola Scekic and Williams all had three, and forward Joe Furstinger had four.

As a team, the referees called 26 fouls against the Lobos and 15 against the Aggies.

UNM led for all but 29 seconds in the contest but led only by six, 38-32, at the halftime break. The Lobos outshot the Aggies, but just barely. UNM was 30 of 63 (47.6 percent) to NMSU’s 24 of 53 (45.3 percent).

Poor fouls shooting struck NMSU, particularly in the second half. On 19 attempts the Aggies sank only seven, a 38.8 percent clip. The Lobos hit 12 of 17 from the line. UNM also won the rebound battle by a 40-28 edge.

J.R. Oppenheim is the assistant sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s basketball and women’s soccer. Contact him at or on Twitter @JROppenheim.

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