Mountain West Basketball Tournament - New Mexico v San Diego State

Lobos outlast feisty Davidson at The Pit

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Environmental factors contributed heavily to New Mexico’s close 86-81 win over Davidson in the graveyard shift game of the Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Altitude played a big factor, as did a force of nature by the name of Tony Snell.

The rangy 6’7″ Lobo guard displayed his full arsenal of skills in bringing his team back from a 45-31 halftime deficit. Snell, a junior, played all 40 minutes of the game, and did everything his team needed him to do, finishing with 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He did it with volume shooting, hitting just 7-22 from the field, but the “how” of it hardly mattered.

Snell’s heroics eclipsed a strong effort from the visiting Wildcats, who felt every minute of a 2:00 am ET start. The shots that fell in the first half began to go awry in the second, as altitude and sleep deprivation took hold. De’Mon Brooks led the visitors with 22 points, but could not replicate Snell’s Iron Man showing. No Wildcat played more than J.P. Kuhlman’s 31 minutes, but Davidson’s troops looked worn by the end, nonetheless.

Davidson’s future opponents should be forewarned – few places sap the vitality from a team like the Pit can. Your venue’s mileage may vary. Bob McKillop’s team is smart, tough and talented, and they’ll be ready to snatch the SoCon crown by season’s end. The Lobos, on the other hand, must go through both No. 25 San Diego State and No. 18 UNLV to make a living in the highly fluid Mountain West, and they’ll need a consistent showing from Snell and his mates before they can stack that cheddar.

 

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: