Lo­bos rack up an­other triple-digit win

Santa Fe New Mexican - - SPORTS - By Will Web­ber

AL­BU­QUERQUE — So far, so good. Two games into the Paul Weir Ex­per­i­ment, the Lobo bas­ket­ball team is un­beaten with a pair of lop­sided wins fea­tur­ing 35 3-point­ers and a 125-point scor­ing av­er­age.

The lat­est came Tues­day night be­fore a crowd of just 9,601 in The Pit as The Univer­sity of New Mex­ico used a late surge to lay waste to Omaha, 103-71. Four play­ers fin­ished in dou­ble fig­ures, in­clud­ing a sec­ond straight out­ing with a dif­fer­ent Lobo pour­ing in 24.

This time it was guard Troy Si­mons, a player who lit up the team’s Cherry & Sil­ver scrim­mage a month ago but had yet to show the kind of ex­plo­sive­ness he did Tues­day night. He made half a dozen 3-point­ers and threw down an em­phatic dunk in the sec­ond half, do­ing all his scor­ing in just 22 min­utes off the bench.

“Ev­ery­thing I do, I feed off the crowd,” he said. “My team­mates told me to shoot the ball, they would en­cour­age me to shoot and I would feel it from the crowd.”

The 103 points gave the Lo­bos con­sec­u­tive triple-digit games for the first time in 19 years and pro­vided fur­ther ev­i­dence that Weir’s up-and-down style is go­ing to pro­vide plenty of scor­ing — and plenty of tired legs.

Omaha was within six points at the mid­way point of the sec­ond half be­fore UNM’s pres­sure de­fense sim­ply wore the Mavericks down. Within a 36-sec­ond span the Lo­bos went on a 9-0 run to open a 72-57 lead punc­tu­ated by Joe Furstinger bait­ing Omaha’s Daniel

Meyer into a tech­ni­cal foul.

Within min­utes the lead grew to 20 points, then 30. It all seemed to get out of hand when Furstinger’s emo­tions roiled over and got things go­ing.

“We talk to Joe a lot about chan­nel­ing his en­ergy in the right way and I think he’s got­ten a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” Weir said. “Joe’s just got a lot of fire and a lot of fight, and it’s re­ally hard for me to not like that. We just have to make sure it’s in a pos­i­tive way.”

Furstinger came within a pair of re­bounds from post­ing a dou­ble-dou­ble, fin­ish­ing his night with 11 points and eight re­bounds. He was joined in dou­ble fig­ures by Antino Jack­son (19) and Sam Log­wood (18).

Jack­son drained five 3-point­ers and logged a team-high 27 min­utes. He said he has no­ticed that UNM’s re­lent­less style of run­ning on of­fense and press­ing end to end on de­fense has had a marked af­fect on ev­ery­one from the fans to the play­ers.

“Hey, the only thing I no­ticed is peo­ple started putting hands on their knees and just start see­ing souls huff­ing and puff­ing,” he said.

It wasn’t all pretty. The Lo­bos started the game by miss­ing 12 of their first 14 3-point tries and were shoot­ing just 33 per­cent with half a dozen turnovers at the 6-minute mark of the first half.

The lead was just 24-22 at that point as Omaha had fig­ured out UNM’s press and made a few shots of their own, even­tu­ally ty­ing the game on a tran­si­tion layup and go­ing in front on a pair of free throws with 5:08 left.

Things didn’t get much bet­ter un­til the fi­nal 10 min­utes.

“We talked about it at half­time, but I don’t want blowouts, we don’t want that,” Weir said. “We want to be in fights every night. That makes us bet­ter. We want competition, we want to im­prove.”

The men­tal grind be­hind im­prov­ing started long be­fore Tues­day’s game when work­ers hung sig­nage out­side the vis­i­tors’ locker rooms in The Pit. They re­minded play­ers of the al­ti­tude, that at 5,326 feet there is only 83 per­cent oxy­gen mol­e­cules avail­able, that re­gard­less of fit­ness there can be symp­toms associated with al­ti­tude sick­ness.

For good mea­sure, on oxy­gen tank was strate­gi­cally lean­ing against the wall un­der a bright red sign that read, “emer­gency oxy­gen.”

“When I got here I ac­tu­ally read an ar­ti­cle on ESPN with Jim Har­baugh and some­body else talk­ing about the psy­chol­ogy be­hind the vis­i­tor’s locker room and I was like, ‘You know what, we gotta get the psy­chol­ogy go­ing in our vis­i­tors locker room,’ ” Weir said. “So we changed our vis­i­tors locker room, we changed the hall­way and hope­fully we con­tinue to do those kinds of things. We’re look­ing for any sin­gle iota of an ad­van­tage to help us win a bas­ket­ball game, so if it helps, it helps.”

Again, so far, so good.

NOTES

Tues­day’s game was the open­ing round of the Emer­ald Coast Clas­sic. The Lo­bos will host Ten­nessee Tech in the sec­ond round next week and then fin­ish the tour­na­ment Thanksgiving week­end in Niceville, Fla. … UNM heads to New Mex­ico State on Fri­day, mark­ing the first time Weir has been back to Las Cruces (in an of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity, any­way) since spurn­ing the Ag­gies for UNM in April. He will meet with the me­dia Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon to dis­cuss the game and the likely fall­out from it. … Lo­bos power for­ward Con­nor MacDougall sat it out the game in a walk­ing boot. Weir said he was cleared to be­gin light prac­tices but did not put a timetable on his big man’s re­turn.

ROBERTO E. ROSALES/THE AL­BU­QUERQUE JOURNAL VIA AP

New Mex­ico’s Troy Si­mons re­acts af­ter a dunk against Omaha dur­ing Tues­day’s game in Al­bu­querque. Si­mons fin­ished the game with 24 points. The Lo­bos routed Omaha 103-71.

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