New Mexico vs Colorado Preview

New Mexico vs Colorado
University of Colorado’s George King (No. 24) drives around Air Force Academy’s Lavelle Scottie (No. 12) at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colorado on Nov. 26, 2017.
(Photo by Matthew Jonas/Times-Call)

The Colorado Buffaloes are looking to rebound from their first loss of the season against in-state rival Colorado State 72-63. They play host to the New Mexico Lobos, who are coming off a 88-76 loss to UTEP last Saturday.

Colorado’s last game saw the demons that have been present all season finally catch up to them. There was the game when they needed to rally from 13 down in the final four minutes to beat Quinnipiac. There was the 17-point lead against Drake in the second half that dwindled to one before they finally regained control.

Saturday was simply a case of tempting fate once too often. The Buffs allowed the Rams to build a 17-point lead in the second half before coming back to cut the deficit to four — but this time around, couldn’t get over the hump down the stretch. Colorado State thumped the Buffs on the boards, taking full advantage of CU’s first game without the services of big man Tory Miller-Stewart (out with a foot injury), and ended up with nine blocked shots — three times their average thus far this season.

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle made it clear he does not expect his team to hang their heads.

“That’s not going to happen,” Boyle said firmly. “This team has too much fight, toughness, and character to allow that to happen. I don’t worry about this spiraling into the next game. One game doesn’t affect the next game.”

Indeed, if there is one thing this team has already established, it is an air of mental toughness. While they may be young — at one point Saturday, CU’s on-court lineup consisted of four true freshmen and a sophomore — they are by no means fragile. They know the coaching staff has their back, they know they can play better than they showed Saturday, and above all, they know they have precious little time to wallow in a loss.

But what we don’t know yet is how quickly the Buffs can adjust to the loss of Miller-Stewart. Along with being a rebounding and defensive presence in the middle, he also provided a strong measure of leadership.

While Boyle didn’t name names after Saturday’s loss, there’s no doubt he will be expecting more from his upperclassmen in the future. CU’s three elders — seniors George King and Dominique Collier and junior Namon Wright — combined to shoot just 9-for-32 from the floor and collect a combined total of nine rebounds.

Those are numbers that will have to improve dramatically if CU wants to be competitive, particularly when the Buffs hit Pac-12 play.

“There are some experienced guys who didn’t play as well as they are capable of playing,” Boyle said. “I always give freshmen some more breaks. It’s harder to do that with juniors and seniors because they’ve been around.”

But with Miller-Stewart sidelined, the Buffs need sophomore Lucas Siewert back to full strength in a hurry. Siewert had been averaging 5.0 rebounds per game before suffering a sprained ankle, and played six mostly ineffective minutes against the Rams.

“Our next two games, New Mexico and Xavier, they’re going to watch this film,” McKinley Wright said. “They’re going to see we got our (butts) whooped on the glass. It’s a challenge but we’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re going to take it. …. I’m going to be better and this team’s going to better.”

For New Mexico, they have had a roller coaster ride early on, starting the season on a two game winning streak before losing four games in a row. They sit at 3-5 and are clearly not the same Lobo team of years past. They put up a solid fight against TCU, only losing by two points and fought hard against Maryland before falling by 15.

Senior guard Sam Longwood is the fuel to this Lobos team. He averages 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. If he can stop turning the ball over (3 turnovers a game) he would be even more valuable than he already is. At 6’8, he creates a lot of mismatches with guards on other squads because frankly, he dominates them with his size. You can try to match him up with a forward but his ball handling and quickness will turn that into a mismatch from the start. How Colorado guards him will be interesting to say the least.

Prediction

These two teams matchup very well and it will come down to effort on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor for one team to pull out the victory.

The injury bug for Colorado may impact the game, but if George King can get back to carrying this Buffaloes team, I like them to pull out a tight victory.

Colorado 78 New Mexico 76

https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/cu_air_force_basketball.jpg?fit=1024%2C714&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/cu_air_force_basketball.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Dan SchalkNCAABPac-12Recent PostsCollege Basketball,Colorado Buffaloes,New Mexico Lobos,New Mexico vs ColoradoNew Mexico vs Colorado Preview The Colorado Buffaloes are looking to rebound from their first loss of the season against in-state rival Colorado State 72-63. They play host to the New Mexico Lobos, who are coming off a 88-76 loss to UTEP last Saturday. Colorado's last game saw the demons that...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?