New Mexico Lobos
Mountain West (24-8, 11-5)
Big Wins: 12/15 Texas Tech (80-63), 2/13 at San Diego State (73-63), 3/4 UNLV (59-45)
Bad Losses: 12/4 at New Mexico State (62-71), 1/12 San Diego State (67-72), 1/15 at TCU 72-74)
Coach: Steve Alford
J.R. Giddens, Senior, Guard, 16.0 ppg, 3.0 apg, 8.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Dairese Gary, Freshman, Guard, 7.9 ppg, 3.2 apg
Jonathan Wills, Freshman, Guard, 3.3 ppg, 1.2 apg
Roman Martinez, Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 ppg, 2.0 apg, 3.9 rpg
Daniel Faris, Junior, Forward, 9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Chad Toppert, Junior, Guard, 10.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Jamaal Smith, Senior, Guard, 9.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Darren Prentice, Senior, Guard, 7.1 ppg, 2.4 apg
Johnnie Harris, Junior, Forward, 2.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Monquel Pegues, Junior, Forward, 1.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Coach Steve Alford has done something for J.R. Giddens. The senior guard has seen a lot of coaches under his tutelage, but this year Giddens has finally almost lived up to his high expectations. Averaging 16.0 points per game is nothing new, but now Giddens has kept the turnovers down. In fact, the team only commits 12.2 turnovers per game thanks to the development of Giddens.
New Mexico has the best three-point field-goal percentage in the nation and it is not like they do not take a lot of long balls. Chad Toppert knocks down almost three per game and hits at a 48.3 percent clip. Jamaal Smith does not take as many shots from outside, but he hits at an incredible 50.0 percent. Those two boost the percentage, but players like Darren Prentice and Giddens will make some shots from behind the arc.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Giddens leads the team in blocked shots and that is not good since he is a 6-5 guard. The Lobos lack an interior presence on the defensive end and it can become relatively easy for bigger teams to back in and get some easy buckets. Daniel Faris, at 6-9 and 235 pounds, is often the only forward on the floor. He is not a bad defender, but he is not a shot blocker either. Yet, New Mexico still only allows the opposition to shoot about 41 percent from the floor, so they make it difficult to get the ball inside in the first place.
Who To Watch:
The Lobos have ten players who average about a dozen minutes per game or more. Giddens, Smith and Toppert will do a lot of scoring, but there are some other important players who do not put up such gaudy numbers. Dairese Gary can handle the ball and actually leads the team in assists. He is also a superb defender. At 6-6, wing Roman Martinez usually starts at the four position. He is not strong enough or tall enough to compete with most opposing power forwards, but he makes up for it with tenacity and footwork.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.4 (73rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.5 (47, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.7 (54, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.8 (44, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.3 (41, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 42.5 (1, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.5 (257, 8)
Rebound Margin: 2.6 (88, 4)
Assists Per Game: 16.3 (26, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (23, 2)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Ohio State
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