New Mexico seems to have all the magic moments in the Mountain West Conference tournament, but it might trade a couple for at least a little more success in the NCAA bracket.
The Lobos won the Mountain West title for the third year in a row Saturday, rallying to beat top seed San Diego State and conference Player of the Year Xavier Thames 64-58 exactly a week after the Lobos surrendered a 16-point lead to the Aztecs and lost in the regular-season finale.
Forward Cameron Bairstow scored five of his 17 points in the final 90 seconds to lead the No. 2 seed Lobos to their third straight conference crown but first for first-year head coach Craig Neal, who was an assistant to former UNM head coach Steve Alford.
Thames scored 15 to lead the Aztecs who made just 36 percent of their shots in the game and missed nine free throws. San Diego State will also play in the NCAA tournament after going 29-4 this season.
The Lobos will be making their 15th appearance in the NCAA tournament starting next week and their third straight. They have advanced to the Sweet 16 only once way back in 1974. This season's team definitely is capable of advancing to the tournament's second weekend 40 years after the only other time the school has gone that far.
The Lobos have waited a year to redeem themselves from a disappointing loss in the first round to Harvard.in the 2013 NCAA tournament. New Mexico was a No. 3 seed and fell victim to a talented No. 14 seed in Harvard. New Mexico will find out this year's opponent Sunday when the bracket is released.
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