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November 30, 2012

UNM looks good finding ways to win ugly

It doesn't happen often, but occasionally there is a team in sports that does nothing but win without looking good doing it.

The University of New Mexico men's basketball team might be one of those teams.

The Lobos are 7-0 and ranked No. 25 in this week's AP poll. They have not been overwhelming, but they've won. Through seven games, UNM has not played like a well-oiled machine, but it has won. In every game so far, at least one player and sometimes two or three have had bad games, but others have taken up the slack and New Mexico has won.

There are just some teams that seem to do nothing right but win. If they win 30 games this season, then about 20 times the other team is left walking off the floor thinking that if it had played well it could have beaten New Mexico. No one realizes that the Lobos were the reason that opponents played poorly.

Right now, Davidson, George Mason and Connecticut all think they should have beaten UNM, but they didn't. Maybe it was a last-second shot by Tony Snell or missed shots in the second half by Davidson or a spurt late in the game, but whatever the reason, New Mexico won the game.

It is rare to find a team that doesn't look impressive but wins. In the past, the opposite often has been true for the Lobos with them doing things right, but they lose.

On paper, the first game the Lobos should lose is at Cincinnati. That would mean beating Indiana State and New Mexico State on the road, Southern Cal, Valparaiso, New Mexico State and South Dakota at home. That means UNM would be 13-0.

If the Lobos win ugly and start 13-0, that would be just fine with UNM fans. Starting at 4-1 Indiana State, it won't be easy. Southern Cal will be a test and then there are home-and-home games against the Aggies. The better team doesn't always win in that rivalry.

The two big men, 7-foot Alex Kirk and 6-9 Cameron Bairstow, have really stepped up. The Lobos have been surprising tough in the paint. What was feared to be a weakness has become a strength.

UNM has depth, experience and size. This is a good team. But the most important ingredient seems to be that it knows how to win.


New Mexico NEWS

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