Wyoming has had a rough season so far and the University of New Mexico men's basketball team decided to keep things that way, crushing the Cowboys and administering a 30-point stomping to them on Saturday at Dreamstyle Arena.
It was the second time in the past three games that Wyoming was on the wrong end of a one-sided game, falling by nearing an identical score against San Diego State on Jan. 8. The Cowboys lost that game 84-54 and suffered a similar fate against UNM, losing by an 83-53 margin.
New Mexico ( 9-9, 3-3 MW) got off to a relatively quick start and saw all five starters score within the first six minutes of the game. A few seconds later the Lobos held their first double digit lead after senior guard Anthony Mathis buried a pair of free throws to the score 14-4 at the 13:58 mark.
Wyoming's Trace Young fired a 3-pointer and traded baskets with UNM on the next possession to pull within seven, but the Cowboys were unable to get any closer before the Lobos put the game to bed early.
UNM went to work inside, which is an area they have rarely been able to exploit consistently this season. But the Lobos made nine shots in the paint in the first half, helping spark some furious runs.
Basketball is often a game of runs, but all of the significant ones seemed to come at Wyoming's expense.
After Brandon Porter connected on a 3-point shot to bring Wyoming within 24-16, the Lobos rallied to score 14 consecutive points to take a sizable 38-16 lead with 5:45 remaining in the first half.
Wyoming got a couple of dunks and layups to inch a little closer, but still trailed 42-25 entering the locker room at halftime. Four offensive rebounds were about the only bright spot for the Cowboys over the first 20 minutes, but that was a mark that was matched by UNM.
New Mexico shot 50 percent in the first half, compared to just 36 percent by Wyoming. The Cowboys also struggled at the foul line, hitting just 2-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Things didn't get any better in the second half — if anything, it played out nearly identical to the first.
A Carlton Bragg dunk rocked the rim and put the Lobos up by 20 about two minutes into the second half. And after Wyoming connected on a long range attempt, McGee doubled up that effort by making back-to-back shots from 3-point land to push the lead back to 20 with 15:51 on the clock.
Justin James of Wyoming tried to get into rhythm, but never really found his touch. Even when he was able to get a shot to fall, the Lobos were often right there to respond with a flurry of them.
A jumper by James early in the half was answered by a 7-0 scoring spurt by UNM, beginning with another McGee 3-pointer and capped by a Bragg layup to make the score 59-34.
Wyoming never threatened in the second half and fell behind by as many as 33 points in the waning moments of the game when Tavian Percy knocked down a couple of free throw attempts with 68 seconds remaining. New Mexico ended up with a 30-point margin of victory, besting the Cowboys by an 83-53 margin.
Justin James led the Cowboys with just 12 points for the game — a mark that was matched or exceeded by four Lobos. UNM wound up with six players who turned in double-digit scoring performances.
Bragg had a team-high 16 points, while McGee registered 14 and Jackson recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Mathis, Maluach and Kuiper rounded out the rest with 12, 11 and 10, respectively.
The win ended a woeful three-game losing streak for New Mexico, though it also extended Wyoming's losing skid to five games.
New Mexico will head to Las Vegas, Nevada and try to avenge a loss to UNLV earlier in the season in which UNM blew a seven-point halftime lead. The rematch is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 8 p.m.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and baseball and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.