It wasn't a "must-win" for New Mexico or anything like that. But Saturday's home game against San Diego State, which was No. 6 in the AP poll at tipoff, was undeniably a big opportunity for the Lobos, if only because it represented the first time since Dec. 7, and the last time this season, that a school ranked in the top-50 of the RPI visited The Pit.
And Cameron Bairstow was terrific.
The senior took 18 shots, made 11 and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds in a 58-44 win over the Aztecs. Combine that with the 18 points and six rebounds from Wednesday's win over UNLV, and Bairstow is the CBSSports.com National Player of the Week.
"I've got the best power forward in the country playing for us in Cam Bairstow," New Mexico coach Craig Neal said after Saturday's win.
Added SDSU coach Steve Fisher: "Bairstow had his way."
The result of all this, combined with Pitt's loss to Florida State on Saturday, has New Mexico ranked in the Top 25 (and one). So, all in all, it was a good week for the Lobos, who are now tied with San Diego State atop the Mountain West standings.