As difficult as New Mexico’s trip to Puerto Rico was last week, with the Lobos dropping two of their three games at the Puerto Rico Tipoff, what made things even worse was the fact that they returned to Albuquerque at less than full strength.
Starting point guard and leading scorer Cullen Neal suffered a right ankle injury early in the second half of New Mexico’s loss to Boston College. And on Sunday the player who replaced him in the starting lineup, Arthur Edwards, suffered a dislocated finger (and a broken bone) on his right hand in a loss to Texas A&M.
With both players undergoing further examination upon their return to New Mexico, how much time they’ll have to sit on the sidelines was finally learned Wednesday. According to Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal, an MRI of Neal’s ankle revealed some ligament damage but not enough to require surgery.
As a result Neal is expected to miss anywhere from three to five weeks, with Edwards’ dislocation/fracture expected to cost him four to six weeks of action. The timeline for both players lands close to the start of Mountain west play, with the Lobos opening with Fresno State on New Year’s Eve. Yet while the Bulldogs have struggled thus far, it should be noted that New Mexico’s next two conference games are Colorado State (January 3) and No. 15 San Diego State (January 6).
With Neal and Edwards sidelined New Mexico will continue to use senior Hugh Greenwood, who was supposed to spend the majority of his time off the ball, as the starting point guard and Deshawn Delaney will need to be an even more consistent offensive option for the Lobos. After scoring eight points in the loss to Boston College, the senior wing tallied 16 in a win over George Mason and 13 against Texas A&M.