BOULDER, Colo. — As the University of New Mexico Lobos loaded the bus back to Denver Wednesday night, the temperature showed 28 degrees.
The team’s shooting inside Boulder’s Coors Events Center over the previous two hours was even colder.
The Lobos shot under 30 percent from the field, under 40 percent from the free throw line and, despite taking 19 more shots than their opponent, still managed to lose to the Colorado Buffaloes 75-57. It gives UNM (3-6) its worst nine-game start to a season since the 1979-80 season when Charlie Harrison’s makeshift Lobos roster was trying to rebuild after the Lobogate scandal.
“Our 2-point field goal percentage is becoming a real problem,” said Lobos coach Paul Weir. “We’re among the bottom in the country at making 2-point shots. I feel really good about a lot of our looks. We’re getting layups. We’re getting shots right at the rim. They’re just not going down. You want to sit here and say that we’ve got to find better looks, but they’re pretty good looks, but we missed a lot of layups tonight, and that’s unfortunately been a pattern for us.”
While Weir said he felt Saturday’s road loss at UTEP was all about the defense, he was just left shaking his head about how many “bunnies” near the rim his team missed on Wednesday. UNM’s 2-point field goal percentage of 41.9 percent, including Wednesday’s 30 percent clip (12-of-40), ranks 330th out of 351 Division I teams.
“At some point,” Weir said, “we’re going to have to fix it if we’re going to be any good.”
UNM shot 29.6 percent overall (21-of-71), 29.0 percent from 3 (9-of-31) and 37.5 percent from the free throw line (6-of-16).
The last time UNM had just three wins in its first nine games was in November and December of 1979, which was also the last time the Buffs beat the Lobos in Boulder.
As poorly as the Lobos shot on Wednesday, a Jachai Simmons baseline dunk cut the Buffs lead to 49-48 with 10:57 remaining in the game in front of an announced crowd of 6,610.
The Buffs (7-1) closed the game from there outscoring UNM 26-9. The Lobos only made three of their final 17 shots and at one point in the second half missed seven consecutive free throws.
UNM’s starters shot 16.7 percent (7-of-42) and 15 percent from 3-point range (3-of-20). Sam Logwood, the team’s leading scorer, had two points on 1-of-7 shooting and was held scoreless in six first half minutes after picking up his third foul with 10:14 left in the half.
Anthony Mathis was the only Lobo to reach double figures in scoring at 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including three 3-pointers.
“I think we played with a lot of energy both halves,” Mathis said. “It was just a matter of shots going in and shots not going in.”
Both Weir and Mathis felt the Lobos’ defensive effort was actually better than Saturday’s loss at UTEP, despite the Buffs shooting 50 percent and out-rebounding UNM 58-30. It was the most rebounds for CU since 2002 and the Buffs’ 6-foot-0 point guard McKinley Wright was one of two players with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
UNM did score 28 points off 23 CU turnovers.
“I think defensively it was a little bit of a step forward for us tonight,” Weir said. “… Up until about the seven or eight minute mark, then I think we were just pressing trying to get back in and we opened up some things (for easy CU baskets), but I thought our defensive energy was really good.”
Saturday: New Mexico State at New Mexico, 7 p.m., ESPN3.com, 770 AM/94.5 FM