sports

Rio Grande Rivalry Resumes

Lobos win and the Pit gets a new name

Officially the WisePies Arena … but you can call it whatever you want.
Officially the WisePies Arena … but you can call it whatever you want.

In the first game for the University of New Mexico men's basketball team since getting some surprising news—hang on, the shout out to WisePies Arena is coming—the Lobos managed to pull out a victory in one of the most important games on the schedule.

When New Mexico State University comes to town, it's always a big deal. And while the Lobos got the win on Wednesday night, UNM travels down to Las Cruces in a mere 17 days. The Aggies will surely be hungry for revenge.

When the cherry and silver took the floor on Wednesday night, their team record stood at a mediocre 3-3. For a team that's won (at least part of) the Mountain West Conference tournament championship for the last 3 years, this season has already been a slog. The rebuilding process, although expected, has hit most of the fan base a bit hard.

The biggest news about the Lobos this week wasn't the rivalry win, but the revelation that Bob King Court has a new sponsor. What was formerly University Arena is now WisePies Arena (aka the Pit) due to an amazingly generous donation from the local family that runs the small pizza chain.

That process was kickstarted when last year's contributors Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams departed for the pro leagues. Bairstow joined former Lobo Tony Snell in Chicago on the Bulls, and Kirk signed a contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers but got relegated down to their D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge—although he's since been called back up. Williams, meanwhile, is currently playing in Italy.

The Aggies, victims of a tough schedule and some close losses, now stand at 3-5 and haven’t won any of their games outside Las Cruces. But what’s important to note for both this game and the next time the in-state rivals match-up? No Cullen Neal. The guard's ankle sprain won't require surgery, in all likelihood removing the talked-about possibility that he'd be medically redshirted, but he won't be back in time.

Finally, the biggest news about the Lobos this week wasn't the rivalry win, but the revelation that Bob King Court has a new sponsor. What was formerly University Arena is now WisePies Arena (aka the Pit) due to an amazingly generous donation from the local family that runs the small pizza chain. While reactions to the name change have been mixed, there's no doubt that fans and foes alike will still refer to the arena as the Pit, and the WisePies franchise seems to have no problem with that. While your Facebook timeline is probably littered with half-hearted complaints about the name change, WisePies' Twitter feed is filled with their retweeted sentiments that the Pit is an Albuquerque tradition.

With a new name for the building, a win under their belt and only five games left before conference play starts, the Lobos might be heading in a new direction.