New Mexico coach Steve Alford has seen his team bounce back twice from losses this season. This time, it'll have to happen after a historically bad performance.
His No. 20 Lobos go on the road Wednesday night to face a tough defensive opponent in Wyoming.New Mexico (17-3, 4-1 Mountain West Conference) fell 55-34 on Saturday at San Diego State. The 34 points were its fewest since scoring 32 on Jan. 31, 1976, at Utah, and its 25.0 percent shooting (11 of 44) was its worst mark since at least 1965.The Lobos are the second-worst MWC team in field-goal percentage at 40.6. They recovered from efforts of 37.0 and 31.8 in defeats earlier this season to recover with victories, and Alford doesn't think the debacle against the Aztecs will have any lingering effects."We don't harbor bad days or a loss here or there," Alford said. "To be 17-3 through 20 games playing the schedule that we've played, I continue to say I couldn't be more pleased with our basketball team."We're getting ready to start the fourth week of a very difficult league and we're sitting in first place. Do we have issues? Do we have to get better? Do we have to improve? No question."San Diego State is yielding 58.8 points per game, with Wyoming (15-4, 2-4) the only better team in the conference at 54.4.The Lobos have won nine of the last 11 meetings, with two 10-point victories last season that included a 48-38 win in the most recent one.Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt believes New Mexico is even better than last season's team that won 28 games and lost to Final Four participant Louisville in the NCAA tournament."One of the biggest differences to me is the maturity of the veterans that are playing," Shyatt said. "They've got quality players at every spot with great experience and they know how to win at both ends of the floor."The Cowboys have actually shot worse this season than New Mexico's last effort, connecting at 24.0 percent in a 49-36 defeat at Fresno State on Jan. 16.Any chance for offensive proficiency in this game probably hinges on Leonard Washington for Wyoming and Kendall Williams and Tony Snell for New Mexico.Washington, averaging 14.5 points, scored 19 in Saturday's 57-48 loss to Air Force. He was limited to 21 points on 29.2 percent shooting last season by New Mexico, which remains wary of the 6-foot-7 senior forward."He's one of the better players in our league," Alford said. "He can step out and beat you on the perimeter with shots, he can drive the basketball, he's very good in the post."Williams scored a team-high 14 on Saturday, and his 4.5 assists per game represent the MWC's second-best average.Snell scored seven against the Aztecs after averaging 18.5 points during the Lobos' 4-0 conference start. The 6-7 guard totaled seven points last season against the Cowboys, including a scoreless effort in the last matchup in which he failed to take a shot in 23 minutes.