ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Kendall Williams and Chad Adams didn't start for No. 16 New Mexico after they arrived late to the game.
It cost the Lobos, who were upset by Nate Wolters and South Dakota State 70-65 on Saturday.
Williams scored 21 to lead the Lobos, who went 7 of 12 from the foul line in the closing minutes to frustrate their own comeback efforts.
"That was a tough one," Lobos coach Steve Alford said. "We never got in sync all night. Our rhythm was bad from beginning to the end they had a lot to with that. It's a very good basketball team. They play well together. They deserved it. I thought they played better than we did in a lot of different areas."
The lack of rhythm, Alford said, can in large part be attributed to the late players not being on the floor to start the game.
"They were late getting to the game. I have no idea how that happens. If you're a believer in Santa Claus, I hope they get some alarm clocks."
Jordan Dykstra had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Jackrabbits, who went 10 for 11 from the line down the stretch to preserve their lead. Chad White added 13 points for South Dakota State and Brayden Carlson had 10.
The Jackrabbits (10-4) led the final 37 minutes of the game after taking the lead with an early 8-0 run.
Wolters had 28 points and seven assists. His 3-pointer with 4:49 left in the first half gave South Dakota State its largest lead at 35-23. But the Lobos (12-1) closed the half with an 11-3 run to trail 38-34 entering the second half.
"The Wolters kid is the real deal and as a good a point guard as we've played all year," he said. "I thought he really controlled the game for 40 minutes and did a really good job of running their team. You can tell that he's their leader and other guys play very well off of him."
New Mexico never got closer than three points the rest of the way. The Jackrabbits had issues of their own to deal with. Chief among them, a 1,220-mile bus ride from their last game Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn., because of the weather.
"It wasn't very fun, crossing the country, especially after a loss and the way we played on Wednesday, so this was big for us and we have to feed off it," Wolters said.
The Jackrabbits didn't arrive until Friday evening. They still arrived in better time than the two Lobos starters.
"You have to be able to stay in check and handle things, whether it's good or bad," Alford said. "When you're in college athletics, you have to be able to handle things and sometimes that's getting kicked in the tail and sometimes that's getting patted on the back. But ultimately, it comes down to the sacrifices of team and being unselfish. We expect all of our guys to be on time. If we say, `This is the time to be at the game,' that's the time you have to be at the game."