The University of New Mexico concluded its three game road swing at the University of Wyoming as the Lobos looked to continue their winning ways on the road. UNM was enjoying a two game road winning streak at the time with victories over Hawaii 79-69 and an 86-85, overtime win over longtime rival UTEP. The Lobos were looking for their first win in the Arena Auditorium in Wyoming since 1995.
The early going belonged to a Brandon Ewing, Ryan Dermody and Brad Jones of the Wyoming as they led Wyoming out of the blocks. UNM had a brief 11-10 lead, but Cowboys took control of the 1st half of the game. Behind great offensive sets and good guard play by Ewing, Jones and Dermody who went off from behind the arc, going 3-4 from the 3 point line in the first half and score 11 points. Jones and Ewing scored 13 a piece. The Lobos struggled on the offensive side of the ball, as they weren't taking good shots and taking them early in the shot clock. There is not more to say about the half for the Lobos looked like all the travel had finally caught up to them, they looked tried. UNM was lead by Dairese Gary and Darren Prentice seven points each. The Cowboys topped of a great half on the cake for Wyoming as Ewing hit a buzzer beating 3 point shot to give the Cowboys a 48 to 32 lead going into the locker room.
It just seemed like jetlag had finally caught up to the Lobos as Wyoming was having their way and UNM didn't have the answer. Or did they… this Lobo team adjusts well to adversity and this game wasn't any different as the Lobos came out of the locker with a chip on their shoulder and looked to cut into the lead quickly, and boy did they do that in a big way! As has become the norm in his career Chad Toppert hit a couple of quick 3's to spark a wonderful run that had the Lobos were able to cutting the double digit halftime deficit to a manageable 48 to 41 score. Like I said this Lobo team responds to adversity and being behind as they kept the run going cutting the Wyoming lead down to two with a 16-2 run to get back in the game.
Just when it looked like UNM was going to roll easily to their 3rd consecutive road win Wyoming went on a 7 to 0 run to build the lead right back up, and it looked like the Cowboys would just go away and pull off the upset. With the Lobos down 9 with under 6:30 left in the game the "Road Warriors" would not go away. UNM went on a 16 to 7 run behind superstar JR Giddens to tie the game at 73 with 8 seconds left in regulation. The Lobos had the last possession before the first over time but was not able to convert. And the Lobos were headed to back to back overtime games!
The fist overtime was as close as the 2nd half was with neither team gaining an advantage. Back and forth it went. Once again the Lobos had the ball to end the overtime and hit the game winning shot. But once again the Lobos could not do it and the game is on to a 2nd overtime. Game was tired at 82 going into the second overtime! Could this be the same Lobo team that looked so road weary in the first half is able to keep up the intensity for another 5 minutes, or would they finally crumble?
The second overtime answered all those questions, as it was the Lobos that showed the mental toughness building a quick five point lead. With a minute left Lobo superstar JR Giddens picked up his 5th foul and headed to the bench. That most would think would signal the end for this team right? No, not exactly as senior Jamaal Smith for the Lobos stepped up and had 11 points in the over time to lead his team to a 99-92 win in Wyoming. New Mexico improved their record to 14-2, 1-0 and Wyoming fell to 6-7, 0-1. The Lobos were lead by five players in double figures, Smith 24, Toppert 18, Giddens 16, Prentice 15, and Faris 13. Giddens and Gary lead the lobos on the glass with 8 each.
TRM Player of the road swing
@ Hawaii-17 pts, 11, boards, 3 asst.
@ UTEP-20 pts, 19 boards, 7 asst
@Wyoming-16pts, 8 boards, 5 asst.
JR was every were the last three games, JR is finally playing like the player that we thought he would be when he stepped on the floor last year.