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Sophomore guard/forward Sam Logwood stands on the sideline and waits to put the ball in play Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at WisePies Arena. The Lobos lost to Wyoming 70-68.

Sophomore guard/forward Sam Logwood stands on the sideline and waits to put the ball in play Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at WisePies Arena. The Lobos lost to Wyoming 70-68.

Men's basketball: Wyoming’s style befuddles Lobos

Slow tempo? What slow tempo?

Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt posed that question after the Cowboys’ 70-68 victory over New Mexico Saturday at WisePies Arena.

Over the years, Shyatt’s Wyoming squads have developed the reputation that they slow down the game, exhaust the shot clock and frustrate offensive-minded opponents with ugly play. Yet Shyatt’s best player this year, guard Josh Adams, torched the Lobos for a career-high 38 points.

Shyatt took exception to the slow Cowboys moniker, especially in regards to Adams.

“You have to know who you are, and you have to know what you do best,” Shyatt said. “The rest of the guys, I think they figure it out. But I will challenge you to watch tape of the Wyoming Cowboys and tell me when Josh Adams slows down.”

Based on the analytics, Wyoming (10-9, 2-3 MW) ranks among the bottom in adjusted tempo in the Mountain West while UNM (10-7, 3-2 MW) is among the highest. And, in a season where tempo has become a talking point at New Mexico, Wyoming’s style won out in the only meeting between the Lobos and Cowboys this year.

It was particularly noticeable in the second half when Wyoming forced long possessions offensively and ran out the shot clock. Once the Cowboys overtook a 46-40 Lobo lead after a 13-1 run, the game got ugly and played into the Pokes’ wheelhouse.

“He’s just got a style of play and he’s done a good job with it,” UNM Head Coach Craig Neal said, referring to Shyatt. “That’s how they play and that’s how they win some games.”

Yet Lobo forward Tim Williams said the team didn’t really get hung up on playing Wyoming’s game. He said that they tried to force Adams into taking difficult shots but he managed to hit them anyway, and it became frustrating to take the ball out of the net after made shots as opposed to getting stops defensively.

“But those are the kinds of shots we have to keep making guys shoot, and we can’t get worried about making a couple of them,” Williams said. “If they keep shooting tough shots like that, then maybe they’ll start missing some.”

An area where Neal said his team struggled was after timeouts. In a few instances, like when guard Cullen Neal traveled on a game-tying possession, the Lobos didn’t fully execute what was talked about during the huddle. It also showed, Craig Neal said, when UNM couldn’t keep the ball out of Josh Adams’ hands.

Neal says it’s another thing he needs his young team to continue to improve upon.

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“The hard thing for me is just like I told the guys,” he said. “It’s when you coach them and you work on things and they keep doing the same things over and over. We’ve got to go beyond that. We’ve got to learn and go forward.”

The Lobos had gone with the same starting lineup for 17 straight games until disciplinary action put leading scorer Elijah Brown on the bench for the first 10 minutes.

Guard Xavier Adams started in his place. Adams had shown the ability to be a spark plug off the bench, and the Lobos got that same energy from him as a starter. He also saw minutes in the second half when the Lobos went with a four-guard set.

He played 18 minutes and scored 13 points, the same amount as Brown and Cullen Neal scored in 24 and 29 minutes, respectively.

“Those first couple of minutes, X played huge and the whole night he made hustle plays,” Williams said. “He played a great game, so I don’t think that affected us too much. When EB came in, we got to work right away as well.”

Brown rode a stationary bike until he entered the game. After the loss, he also spent time shooting free throws on the arena floor.

He reportedly missed the start due to missing curfew during the UNLV trip. He offered an apology on Twitter.

“I have let my team and its city down & I apologize for it,” Brown tweeted. “We will figure this out I promise.”

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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