Charleston, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-place game in the Charleston Classic takes place early on Sunday afternoon, as the 19th-ranked New Mexico Lobos tangle with the Davidson Wildcats.
New Mexico opened the season with three straight victories, taking down Alabama A&M (88-52) and Charleston Southern (109-93) at home, before heading east to battle UAB in the first round of this event, a game that went to two overtimes before the Lobos prevailed, 97-94. Unfortunately, their next outing, versus an unbeaten UMass squad resulted in their first loss of the season as they fell to the Minutemen in an 81-65 final.
Following this clash, UNM returns home to play San Diego, and it will lift the lid on Mountain West Conference action against visiting Colorado State on Jan. 4, 2014.
Davidson got off to a horrendous start, losing its first three games of the season to Duke (111-77), Milwaukee (81-77) and Virginia (70-57). The team finally put a tally in the win column with a 94-82 verdict against Georgia in the opening round of this tournament, but the next day fell back to its losing ways with a lopsided 85-54 setback against Clemson.
The Wildcats, who are facing their third ranked opponent already this season and have lost 14 of their last 15 against members of the Top-25 (last win coming on Dec. 19, 2011 over No. 12 Kansas, 80-74), appear to be a shell of their former selves, but they still hope to make strides in Southern Conference play, which for them begins on Jan. 4, 2014 at Wofford.
This bout marks just the third meeting between the Lobos and Wildcats, with the former having won both previous encounters, the most recent of which being an 86-81 decision in Albuquerque last November.
Alex Kirk was a man possessed in Friday's clash with UMass, scoring 32 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but that effort went for naught as the Lobos lost by double digits. Kendall Williams was the only New Mexico player to hit for double figures (13 points, five assists), but he committed seven of the team's 18 turnovers. As a whole, UNM shot just 39.1 percent from the field, missing the mark on 13 of its 18 3-point attempts, despite four treys belonging to Kirk. The Minutemen outscored the Lobos in the paint (46-26).
Kirk and Bairstow rank one-two on the team's scoring list at 22.0 and 20.0 ppg, respectively, and Williams is close to joining them at the 20 ppg mark, as he nets 19.8 ppg. Kirk adds 11.8 ppg and 17 blocks to his impressive stat line, while Bairstow pulls down 6.5 rpg while hitting his field goals 63.8 percent of the time, and Williams hands out 8.0 apg and is shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, which includes a 46.7 percent showing from beyond the arc. The Lobos are averaging a robust 89.8 ppg, but are giving up 80.0 ppg. They currently own a +7.8 rebounding margin, and are dead even in turnovers (12.3 per game).
Davidson put forth its lowest scoring output of the season against Clemson the last time out, netting a mere 54 points, with only 21 coming after intermission. The Wildcats got 14 points from Chris Caerapowicz and 12 from De'Mon Brooks, but the team made good on only 20.0 percent of its 3-point tries (6-of-21) and a horrific 18.2 percent of its free throws (2-of-11). A 36-23 rebounding deficit also hurt, as did a blistering shooting effort by the Tigers (.611 overall, .526 3-point range).
Despite shooting just 40.6 percent from the field and making good on only 31.0 percent of its long-range launches, Davidson is averaging 71.8 ppg. Unfortunately, its defensive effort leaves little room for error as foes are lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 85.8 ppg, shooting 56.7 percent from the field. Brooks paces the team with 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest, while Brian Sullivan and Tom Droney contribute 13.6 and 12.2 ppg, respectively.