Photo by Wesley Beights, Staff Photographer
Photo by Wesley Beights, Staff Photographer

Lobos tear up No.6 Aztecs 58-44

The most anticipated matchup between the two top teams in the Mountain West Conference came to an unpleasant ending for Aztec basketball fans last Saturday. The No. 6 San Diego State Aztecs fell to the University of New Mexico Lobos 58-44 in their first of two meetings this season.  SDSU will likely fall a few spots down in the national rankings this coming week.

According to the Associated Press, following the game in Albuquerque, N.M, after the game SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said to reporters, “They’re the best team we’ve played this year. That includes Kansas … Creighton … Marquette … I’m sure they’ll be ranked next week.”

Indeed, the Lobos took advantage of their home crowd, playing at The Pit, which stands at 5,312 feet elevation. The last time SDSU lost a game was on Feb. 11 against the University of Wyoming Cowboys. That venue was an even higher elevation, standing at 7,220 feet.

It may be safe to say the Aztecs don’t fare well playing at high elevations. It clearly showed against New Mexico as SDSU only connected on 21-65 baskets, shooting a poor 32 percent throughout the entire game.

Sophomore forward Skylar Spencer scored first to start this game as he tipped in a missed layup by junior forward J.J. O’Brien. When the Lobos answered, sophomore forward Winston Shepard nailed a jump shot in the paint, giving SDSU a 4-2 lead with 17 minutes and 34 seconds left to play in the first period. Despite the early lead, the Aztecs had to play catch-up the rest of this game and couldn’t manage to regain their lead.

Heading into halftime, the game was still within reach for SDSU as it trailed the Lobos 29-22. However, the second half became a nightmare for the Aztecs. The poor shooting continued, and they even found themselves down by as much as 24 when UNM freshman guard Cullen Neal drained a 3-point shot to give the Lobos a 50-26 advantage with 10:50 remaining in the game. New Mexico started to use its size and veteran presence to rally the Lobos as senior forward Cameron Bairstow scored 16 of his final game-high 26 points in the second half to put this game out of reach early for SDSU.

With this loss, the Lobos have tied the Aztecs for first place in the MWC. Both teams now sit at a 12-2 record in conference play.

Photo by Wesley Beights, staff photographer

Next up, SDSU will look to get back in the win column as it welcomes the San Jose State University Spartans at 8:05 p.m this Tuesday to Viejas Arena. Expect another sold-out home game as the Aztecs have not lost back-to-back games all year.

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Lobos tear up No.6 Aztecs 58-44