New Mexico v Harvard

New Mexico’s offensive issues prove fatal in Salt Lake City

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A poor shooting team for much of the season, Mountain West champion New Mexico won 29 games due in large part to their ability to get to the foul line and defend.

That formula didn’t work on Thursday night however, as Harvard shot 52.4% from the field and upset the Lobos 68-62 in Salt Lake City. New Mexico shot just 37.5%, and star guards Tony Snell and Kendall Williams struggled to find their shot.

Snell scored just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting and he was more still productive than Williams. The Mountain West Player of the Year hit just one of his six shot attempts and failed to tally a single assist.

If not for bigs Alex Kirk (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Cameron Bairstow (15 points, nine rebounds) the margin of defeat would have been even larger for the Lobos. New Mexico still had its chances in the second half, taking the lead on multiple occasions, but the Lobos could never take control of the game.

After falling behind Harvard would simply head down to the other end of the floor and retake the lead, with point guard Siyani Chambers dishing out seven assists and four players reaching double figures.

New Mexico’s loss caps a bad two days for the Mountain West, as the Lobos join Boise State and UNLV as teams headed home before the first weekend of the NCAA tournament has even been completed. March is about match-ups, “styles make fights” or whatever saying you prefer, but rightly or wrongly many use the tournament as the ultimate measuring stick for conference strength.

With much of their rotation expected to return to Albuquerque next season and the addition of some talented newcomers (and transfers), Steve Alford’s team will be one of the preseason favorites to win the Mountain West.

But that designation does them no good on this night, as a New Mexico squad that entered the tournament with the look of a group capable of going deep into the tournament returns home after just one game.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield isn’t going anywhere

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.

The rest of the top 10?

They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: