ALBUQUERQUE - It would have been mud wrestling if there had been any mud. It would have been hand-to-hand combat if the combatants had been wearing fatigues.
Instead, it was a Mountain West Conference basketball game, and New Mexico left the battlefield with its fourth win in a row.
Somehow, the Lobos beat Wyoming 68-57 in the Pit Wednesday night. The win improves UNM to 5-4 in the MWC and 17-7 overall.
UNM did not shoot well. As a matter of fact, the Lobos had their worst shooting game of the season at just 38.6 percent. Wyoming had a 34-33 rebounding advantage and blocked four shots.
But because of [DB]Drew Gordon[/DB] and Tony Snell, New Mexico won. Gordon had an impressive 18 rebounds. That is the most by any Lobo in regulation in 17 seasons. The last UNM player to do was Lewis Lamar in 1994.
And even more impressive, half of Gordon's rebounds were offensive. With 18 rebounds and 16 points, he carried UNM's inside game. The Lobos' other two big men (A.J. Hardeman was out with the flu) combined for five points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.
Snell, a freshman who was starting for just the third time, scored 19 points and hit 5 of 9 three-point attempts.
"It wasn't one of our better shooting nights,'' said UNM coach Steve Alford. ``We didn't have many people make jump shots except Tony.''
"Coach told me to shoot the ball, so I've got to shoot the ball,'' said Snell. "At the beginning of the season, I was kind of lost, but now that I know the system, my confidence is back and I know what I'm doing.''
On the negative side, freshman Kendall Williams was 2-for-9 from the floor, and his two made shots were a dunk and layup. Senior Dairese Gary was 2-for-6. Gordon and Snell were the only Lobos to score in double figures.
The Lobos have been climbing up the standings in the MWC. They started the conference season 1-4 and were in last place.
"BYU, San Diego State and ourselves are the only teams to win four conference games in a row,'' Alford noted.
The Lobos are in fifth place in the conference, half a game behind UNLV and a game behind Colorado State. UNM plays at Colorado State Saturday night.