Lyle’s 31 leads New Mexico past pesky Green Bay, 93-78
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — JaQuan Lyle scored 31 points, including 20 in the second half Wednesday, to help New Mexico pull away from Green Bay 93-78.
After a rugged first half in which he scored 11 points but turned it over seven times, Lyle took control of the game in the second, going 4-for-6 on 3-pointers with no turnovers.
“He made some tough shots,” Phoenix coach Linc Darner said of Lyle. “I don’t think we guarded him terrible. Everybody will look at the stat sheet and say, well he scored 31, you guys didn’t guard him at all. I thought we did a decent job guarding him.”
Carlton Bragg recorded the Lobos’ first double-double of the season with 11 points and 16 rebounds, while Makuach Maluach added 16 points.
For the Phoenix (1-2), JayQuan McLoud and P.J. Pipes each scored 17 points.
Several times New Mexico (3-0) threatened to run away with it early, but the Phoenix were able to regain contact.
“They did give us a few problems,” New Mexico coach Paul Weir said. “Quite a few times we got it to eight or nine or 10 points and we’re about to kind of break it open and they found a way to work their way back into the game.”
But the Lobos went on second-half runs of 10-2 and then 14-5, with the latter pushing the score to 84-66 as Lyle had two 3-pointers and two foul shots in the surge.
“He’s an emotional kid,” Weir said of Lyle. “When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s off, we have to get him back around as quickly as we can. Turnovers in the first half I think really snake bit him — and us too a little bit. But as the game wore on, he settled in. And he obviously made some big shots there down the stretch as they were trying to close the gap on us.”
Although New Mexico took a 49-43 lead into the break, it had 13 turnovers, leading to 17 Phoenix points. But the Lobos had just five second-half turnovers, leading to four Green Bay points.
After their second round of the Legends Classic on Saturday, the Lobos face regional and well-regarded rivals UTEP and New Mexico State on the road next week.
For the Phoenix, this is a win-now season as they have five seniors and four juniors. But the team plays a tough non-conference schedule that also includes No. 21 Xavier and Wisconsin, in addition to a season-opening 79-57 loss at Purdue.
“When they get on a roll, they’re pretty hard to guard,” Darner said of the Lobos. “They’re pretty talented. I told my team, if they can get on a roll and play pretty well, they can be a team that could make some noise in March. They’re as talented as anybody we’ve played.”
New Mexico next plays Saturday at home against McNeese State in the second round of the Legends Classic. After a two-week hiatus, the tournament resumes in Brooklyn, N,Y., where the Lobos will meet Auburn.
Green Bay travels to face the Badgers on Nov. 21 for its second-round matchup of the tournament.