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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — New Mexico appeared to be unprepared for Texas Tech Wednesday night when the Lobos trailed by 15 points midway through the first half.
When New Mexico made it to the locker room trailing by six, coach Steve Alford did not have much to say to his entire team, but chose to address his three senior leaders — A.J. Hardeman, Dairese Gary and Phillip McDonald.
“I didn’t think they were ready to play,” Alford said. “I didn’t think that they led well. We are a very young basketball team. Our young guys are doing a great job. But they need help and the upperclassmen are the key to this thing.”
All three players answered the call, combining for 21 of New Mexico’s 34 points in the second half to help the Lobos hold on for a 61-60 victory.
McDonald proved to be one of the hotter hands down the stretch, hitting two big 3-pointers to give New Mexico its first lead of the game as it outscored Texas Tech 13-2 to start the second half. He finished with 12 points to lead the Lobos, followed by Alex Kirk’s 10.
New Mexico (11-2) led by seven with 6:40 remaining before Mike Singletary and Texas Tech mounted its comeback effort with a 10-3 run to tie the game at 57-57 with 1:58 left. Singletary scored seven of Texas Tech’s final 11 points but missed a running jumper in the lane as time expired.
Texas Tech (6-7) jumped out to a 25-10 lead in the first 10 minutes but watched New Mexico go on a 16-2 run to get within one point while the Red Raiders turned the ball over seven times. The Red Raiders ended with 14 turnovers — 12 in the final 27 minutes.
Singletary finished with 18 points to lead all scorers. It was the first game he had to play without fellow senior and starting point guard John Roberson, who was suspended earlier this week for violating team rules.
Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight did not go into detail about Roberson but said he’s not sure how long the suspension will last. The coaches and players will make a group decision later this week before Texas Tech’s game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday.
“If you are going to be a bad teammate, you’re going to pay the consequences. No player, no coach is above the team,” Knight said. “ I’ll lose every game if it’s to prove a point. I’m not one of these guys that’s just worried about the wins and losses. I’ve got to make these guys better people and better players. I have no problem taking a risk in a game if it gets a point across to a player.”