No. 15 New Mexico jumped out to a 35-25 halftime lead on Colorado State and pushed that deficit to 20 midway through the second half.
The Rams made a run, but it was too little, too late, as the Lobos moved to 17-2 on the season with a 66-61 win. Tony Snell had 23 points to lead the way, which included putting Pierce Hornung on a poster.
Perhaps more impressive is that New Mexico is now 4-0 in the Mountain West, which, on the surface, isn’t all that impressive. There are 31 teams in the country that are still undefeated in league play. Getting off to a quick start against conference rivals isn’t exactly unheard of.
The difference with the Lobos, however, is that UNM plays in the meat-grinder that is the MWC. Five of the nine teams are in Kenpom’s top 40. Six of the nine are in every bracket projection you saw this week. There are no truly bad teams in the league, either. And just two weeks into league play, eight of the nine teams in the conference already have at least two losses.
Everyone except New Mexico.
“We’re pretty good,” Alford said after Wednesday’s win. “We’re a pretty good basketball team and I think we’re getting better because we beat a really good basketball team.”
Now, if we’re being completely open, the Lobos have had a slightly easier schedule than the other teams in the league. The two toughest opponents they’ve played — UNLV and CSU last night — both came at home, and only one of their four league games was away from the Pit. The road win — at Boise State — is nice, but while the Broncos are improved, that’s not exactly like getting a win in Viejas Arena in front of The Show.
New Mexico still has to visit UNLV and Colorado State. They still have home-and-homes with San Diego State and Wyoming. The Lobos are going to take their lumps. That’s just the nature of the MWC this season.
But a two-game cushion two weeks into league play sure is a nice way to start things off.
I don’t think there’s any question as to who the favorite to win the league is right now.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.