New Mexico-Davidson Preview

The Associated Press

New Mexico is well aware of the problems that preseason Southern Conference player of the year De'Mon Brooks can create.

Brooks' status is unclear for Davidson in Sunday's third-place game against the 19th-ranked Lobos in the Charleston Classic.

New Mexico (3-1) opened last season with an 86-81 home victory over Davidson. Brooks led the Wildcats with 22 points while star Lobos guard Kendall Williams got to the free throw line 14 times and had 17 points, seven assists and six boards.

Williams is off to a strong start with 19.8 points per game and an average of 8.0 assists that ranks among the nation's leaders.

But while Williams is certain to take to the court, it seems likely that Brooks won't be available for the Wildcats. Brooks came out in the second half of Friday's 85-54 defeat to Clemson and was on crutches after the game.

"Nineteenth-ranked New Mexico on Sunday so it's not going to get any easier and I think De'Mon is going to be a question mark so we'll have to see," coach Bob McKillop said. "I don't know what he did, I think it was his groin."

Playing a nationally-ranked team without its best player figures to be a daunting task for Davidson (1-4), off to its worst start since 2009-10.

The Wildcats rank last in the country in opponents' field-goal percentage at 56.7, and allowed the Tigers to shoot 61.1 percent.

"They put us on our heels right away," McKillop said. "They just came after us. Their attack was overpowering, they made shots, we could not stop them."

Facing a bad defensive team could help the Lobos get untracked after poor-shooting efforts in this tournament. They survived a season-low 34.1 percent shooting in Thursday's 97-94 double-overtime win over UAB before improving to only 39.1 percent in Friday's 81-65 semifinal defeat to Massachusetts.

Williams finished with a season-low 13 points against the Minutemen to go with a career-worst seven turnovers after a spectacular 29-point, 10-assist performance the day before in which he hit a tying 3-pointer to end regulation.

The Lobos had to take the floor again about 20 hours after that draining contest ended.

''I think it might be a little bit of a problem playing two overtimes and have to turn around and play at 2:30. But that's not an excuse,'' coach Craig Neal said.

The major bright spot was Alex Kirk's career-high 32 points. The 7-footer should have a huge advantage Sunday since none of Davidson's starters are taller than 6-foot-7.

New Mexico hopes not to face the uphill battle it did in last season's win over Davidson, which opened on a 22-6 run in the first eight minutes and led by 14 at halftime. Williams helped rally the Lobos with 13 second-half points.

The only other returning starter for the Wildcats besides Brooks from that game is Chris Czerapowicz. The senior guard scored 12 in that contest and reached double figures for the first time this season Friday with 14 points.

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