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For now, Weir relies on eight Lobos

Lobo junior Dane Kuiper (14) defends Air Force’s Caleb Morris in their Mountain West Conference opener last month. Kuiper has had a sore knee of late, which could further compromise New Mexico’s depth. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Eight has been the magic number around Lobo land the past week.

After winning game No. 8 of the season on Wednesday night at home over Wyoming, coach Paul Weir made it clear the eight Lobos who played in the 75-66 win over the visiting Cowboys — the same eight who last week blew out San Jose State —had his utmost admiration for buying into his style, even while two of the team’s leading scorers remained out of the lineup.

“I think these eight (players), you know there’s a lot that gets said about talent and, shoot, Wyoming probably has two All-Mountain West players,” Weir said. “But I think this team is finally starting to buy into and see that you can win with emotion. You can win with passion. You can win with toughness. You can win with work ethic. And the eight guys I have … have really embraced that.”

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So, while eight has been great, will eight be enough moving forward for the Lobos (8-10, 3-2 Mountain West) as they look for their first road win of the season Saturday at Fresno State (12-6, 2-3)? Can the team that plays intense, in-your-face defense for 40 minutes continue to be effective if Troy Simons and Sam Logwood continue to ride the pine?

Simons has missed the past two games, the first one on suspension from the league because of on-court actions that led to a pair of ejections. Weir isn’t saying why Simons continues to sit.

Sam Logwood suffered a shoulder injury more than a week ago, and also has had off-court issues that led to another missed game. Logwood’s shoulder came out of the sling by Wednesday, but he didn’t play. Weir isn’t saying why Logwood continues to sit out, either.

Does Weir’s decision on either two become complicated by Dane Kuiper’s injured knee, which could continue to limit his playing time?

Weir has been evasive with the questions. It isn’t so much that he’s playing coy or trying to avoid answering them. As of Friday, he said he hadn’t made a decision on when either Simons or Logwood would suit up again.

But he hasn’t exactly been trying to hide that he’s sending a message, either.

“The guys who aren’t in (that) eight maybe haven’t quite figured that out yet,” Weir said Wednesday, referring to the hard work the others have put in recently to impress the coach. “But these eight have realized we have to defend, we have to be tough and we have to want it more than who we play. That’s why these guys have gotten two back-to-back really big wins for us.”

Simons, a junior shooting guard, has played in 16 games, starting seven and averaging 21.2 minutes per game. He averages 8.6 points and 2.0 steals per game. His steal rate (4.67 steals per 100 defensive possessions on the court) ranks 11th in the country. No other Mountain West player ranks in the top 100.

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Logwood, a senior forward, has started nine of the 15 games he’s played and leads the team in scoring (12.9 points per game) and is second in rebounding (4.9).

THE ROAD IS HARD: The Lobos are 0-7 away from Dreamstyle Arena/the Pit this season — 0-5 in true road games and 0-2 in neutral-court games, both near the Florida panhandle.

That is the longest stretch without a win away from home since 2005-06, when UNM started the season 0-8 outside of the Pit (0-7 in road games, 0-1 on a neutral court). The first win outside of Albuquerque that season came on Feb. 8 at Colorado State.

The following season (2006-07, coach Ritchie McKay’s last), the team started 0-7 in true road games but did mix in a neutral court win in December 2006. The first true road win came the following Feb. 3 at CSU.

 

Saturday: Men: UNM at Fresno State

5 p.m., espn3.com, 770 AM/94.5 FM

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