ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Mercer coach Bob Hoffman got a good look at No. 25 New Mexico when the two teams played in the same tournament in the Virgin Islands recently.
He didn't like what he saw when Mercer lost to New Mexico 76-50 on Wednesday night.
"Their team in general, they fit really good together," Hoffman said of the Lobos. "I think they've got great pieces and I'm sure if you're a fan just watching them, they're fun to watch. If you're an opposing coach, it's not a whole lot of fun to watch."
The Bears (3-4) fell behind early and did not do a very good job of playing catch up.
"We knew we were going to have to mix it up some defensively because they execute their offense so well," Hoffman said. "I thought we did that to some degree. We had them standing, but not very long. But a little bit here and there. I thought that kept us in the game. We just didn't execute ourselves. Of course, you can contribute that to their defensive play to making that happen."
New Mexico's inside duo of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow combined for 32 points and 18 rebounds, proving to be too much for the Bears to handle.
"I thought our bigs would be able to compete a little better," Hoffman said.
It didn't help that Mercer point guard Langston Hall is still finding his way in just his second game back after sitting because of an injured ankle.
"Our point guard is still hobbled, trying to get back, Langston Hall, who is a really good player," Hoffman said. "I'm glad he's on our team. He's going to continue to get stronger."
Hall finished 2 for 10 from the field with five points. He had three assists, but had four turnovers. Travis Smith scored 16 points to lead the Bears, but he shot just 6 of 14 and made only 1 of 6 3-pointers.
New Mexico's defense forced 17 turnovers.
"I think defensively we've seen a lot of progress," New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. "We're not fouling. We're making things really difficult on opponents. We're taking away what we want to take away."
The game turned early when the Lobos (7-0) delivered a 17-2 run that put them up 19-5. New Mexico later added an eight-minute, 24-2 run that began midway through the second half, turning a 49-41 Lobos' advantage into a 73-43 bulge.
"They're a great team, well coached and they're playing their tails off," Hoffman said of New Mexico. "If they keep continuing to work as hard as they do on their cuts and their execution, they're a handful because they have so many guys that can make shots."