Lobos-Aggies Tonight
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/22/2003
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Dec. 22, 2003

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The New Mexico Lobos play their second game in as many days, entertaining the New Mexico State Aggies tonight. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court. The game will be televised by KRQE-TV on a same-day delayed basis at 10:35 p.m.

It's the final contest before the Christmas holiday. UNM resumes its six-game home stand Dec. 28-29 when Arkansas State, Northwestern State and Penn State join New Mexico in the 39th Comcast Lobo Invitational.

UNM is 4-3 after a 74-56 triumph over Coppin State Sunday afternoon, a game the Lobos led throughout. The Lobos now seek their first three-game winning streak in almost two years, since an eight-game run during the 2001-02 season.

The Lobos welcomed Troy DeVries and Danny Granger to the fold, and the duo certainly made a difference in their UNM debut as midseason transfers. Granger tied for team-high honors with 18 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes. DeVries also started and tallied 11 points and 12 assists, the highest total by a Lobo in 12 years. New Mexico did play without sophomore guard Mark Walters, who was sidelined for personal reasons.

New Mexico State is 5-3 overall following a 89-60 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak.

TICKETS Single-game tickets are available online at golobos.com, or by calling 925-5858 or (800) 905-3315. Ticket outlets include the athletics ticket office at The Pit, the ticket office at the UNM Bookstore on main campus, and Raley's and Western Wearhouse locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho.

Ticket office hours at The Pit are 8:30-5 Monday through Friday. Call (505) 925-5626 for more information.

TALK ABOUT A DISADVANTAGE For the first time since Nov. 25, 2002 - a span of 34 games - UNM took the floor with more than eight scholarship players. The addition of Troy DeVries and Danny Granger against Coppin State gives New Mexico 10 players on scholarship, the most since 11 were available during the 2001-02 season. Freshman Sean Phelar is the 11th, but he is expected to redshirt this season. The NCAA allows a maximum of 13.

New Mexico started the 2002-03 campaign with nine players on scholarship. However, in the second game of the season, senior guard Senque Carey suffered a career-ending injury, leaving UNM with just eight players on aid for the remainder of the year. That's all the Lobos have had available in the first six games of this season as well.

Also, for the first time since McKay took over, UNM is now starting a power forward who is taller than 6'5". The 6'8" Granger and 6'9" David Chiotti the Lobos' starters in the post. Jamaal Williams (6'4") was the starter at that position last year, while Alfred Neale (6'5") started there five times this season.

COPPIN STATE RECAP/NOTES Danny Granger and Troy DeVries, playing for the first time this season, gave an instant lift to New Mexico, leading the Lobos to a 74-56 win Sunday over Coppin State. Granger, the former standout at Bradley who transferred to New Mexico last January, scored 18 points - 14 of them in the second half - and had 9 rebounds. DeVries, who left Portland State at the end of the 2002 fall semester, scored 11 points and had a career-high 12 assists, the most by a New Mexico player in 12 years.

With Granger and DeVries in the lineup and point guard Javin Tindall adding 18 points, New Mexico (4-3) had no trouble with the Eagles. The Lobos scored the first 13 points and turned the game into an early rout as the Eagles (3-8) hit only one field goal in the first 14 minutes. The Eagles hit just five field goals in the first half, all of them 3-pointers.

Jimmy Boykin led Coppin State with 21 points on 7 3-pointers. Boykin's long-range scoring sparked a brief second half run by the Eagles that cut New Mexico's lead to 61-42 with 8:45 left.

New Mexico parlayed the Eagles' poor first half shooting into a 37-17 lead, then opened the second half with a 15-4 run.

Before the start of the game, New Mexico head coach Ritchie McKay and the Lobos presented the family of former Lobo Billy Feeney with Feeney's jerseys. Feeney, who transferred here from Portland State last year, committed suicide in August. Feeney's sister Kayla and brother Jimmy accepted the jerseys in the tear-filled pre-game ceremony.

* UNM had one of its better shooting performances of the season, making 50% from the floor overall (25-50) and 3-point (11-22), and 81% (13-16) from the line...the Lobos had 22 assists on those 25 baskets * In the four previous games before Coppin State, UNM had averaged 63.5 points a game and shot just 40% (85-212) overall, including 29.5% (28-95) from 3-point * The +17 rebound margin (40-23) is the widest since a 39-16 bulge over San Francisco State in the season opener * The Lobos have made a 3-pointer in 403 straight games...the last time UNM failed to make a trey was Jan. 3, 1991, when it went 0 of 8 against Colorado State

HEAD COACH Ritchie McKay Ritchie McKay is in his second season in charge of Lobo hoops and his eighth year as a collegiate head coach. He was named UNM's 18th head coach on March 28, 2002. McKay is the son of the late Joe McKay, who was a three-year letterman at guard for the Lobos from 1961-63. McKay had previous stops at Portland State (1996-98), Colorado State (1998-2000) and Oregon State (2000-02). He has a career record of 97-110, 14-21 at New Mexico. McKay is 10-10 in non-conference games while at UNM, 10-6 at The Pit, 0-4 on the road. He is 0-3 against New Mexico State. While at Mountain West Conference member Colorado State, McKay led the Colorado State Rams to the NIT in 1999.

THE NEW MEXICO STATE SERIES It's the 192nd meeting in a series that dates to Dec. 22, 1904, meaning Monday's game will be the 99th anniversary of the inaugural battle. The Aggies go after their third sweep in the past five years after handling UNM 67-48 in Las Cruces on Dec. 3. The Lobos have a 100-91 overall lead, but NMSU has captured three straight - and seven of 10 - for the first time since taking three in a row during the 1999 calendar year: Jan. 19, Dec. 8 and Dec. 23. The last time UNM dropped four straight was a pair of losses in December of 1993 and December of '94. New Mexico leads 61-36 in Albuquerque, including 25-13 in The Pit, although New Mexico State has won three of the last four on UNM's home floor. Current NMSU assistant J.J. DeTemple is a 1994 UNM graduate. He served as student manager and director of basketball operations on Dave Bliss' staff from 1992-98.

Dec. 3 in Las Cruces: UNM's early-season proficiency from the 3-point line disappeared in the 67-48 loss at New Mexico State. Coming into the game, the Lobos were 2nd in the nation in 3-pointers made at 11.7 a game and 3rd in 3-point accuracy at 48% (35-73). Against the Aggies, UNM connected on just 5 of 26 shots (19%) from 3-land, missing 12 straight during one stretch. The Lobos never led and set a season-low for overall FG% at 32.8% (19-58). That's the poorest shooting since last year's home loss to Southern Utah when UNM made 31.6% (18-57). David Chiotti was the lone Lobo in double figures with 17 points and nine rebounds. Mark Walters added nine points and a team-high 10 boards. UNM was outrebounded 42-34 and committed 17 turnovers.

* The loss was UNM's 18th straight on the road, the longest skid since a 29-game drought between the 1956-57 and 1959-60 seasons. The last road win was Jan. 28, 2001, a 70-64 decision at Colorado State.

* The 19-point loss is UNM's widest margin against New Mexico State since a 76-55 decision in Las Cruces on Jan. 19, 1999.

* The 48 points scored is the Lobos' lowest total since a 47-44 loss at Air Force on Feb. 9, 2002. It's the fewest points against the Aggies since Dec. 30, 1985, when NMSU won 53-44 in Las Cruces.

* Javin Tindall, the Lobos' 2nd-leading scorer at 19.3 ppg entering the game, was held to just 5 points. Tindall was 2 of 13 from the floor, including 1 of 8 from 3-point.

Last Year in Albuquerque: New Mexico State earned a 72-60 victory to get the season sweep. New Mexico forced 23 Aggie turnovers, but UNM could not get a much-needed basket down the stretch, after pulling to within 64-58 with 1:40 to play. Ruben Douglas hit the opening basket and Jamaal Williams added a FT for a 3-0 lead, but it would be the Lobos' only lead of the game as the Aggies went on an 11-0 tear to take control. New Mexico State upped its margin to 44-31 in the second half, but 3s by Javin Tindall, Jeff Hart and Ryan Ashcraft spearheaded a 16-7 Lobo run that brought them to within four at 51-47. Eight straight points by the Aggies quickly nullified the effort. NMSU held a 45-30 advantage on the boards.

SEASON NO. 101 The 2003-04 season is the 101st in school history. The Lobos first laced up the hightops on Feb. 2, 1900, when they lost 8-6 to the Albuquerque Guards. While this season is actually the 105th anniversary of that inaugural year, UNM did not field a team for various reasons in 1900-01, 1903-04, 1917-18 and 1920-21. The Lobos have been on the hardwoods continuously since the 1921-22 season and have compiled an all-time record of 1,196-949 (.557). New Mexico was 418-495 (.458) from 1900-62, but has gone 778-454 (.632) over the past 42 seasons, an average of nearly 19 wins per year. The Lobos have made 26 trips to the postseason during that span, including 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and 16 showings in the NIT.

PERSONNEL PICTURE The Lobos return six lettermen, including four starters, from last year's team that finished 10-18, the school's first losing season in 20 years. The big loss is 6-4 shooting guard Ruben Douglas, who led the nation in scoring last year by averaging 28 points a game. Returning starters include senior guards Ryan Ashcraft and Javin Tindall, sophomore post David Chiotti and sophomore guard Mark Walters. Sophomores Jeff Hart and Mikal Monette are also back. It will still be a young team as the only player with more than one year of experience at UNM is Ashcraft. New Mexico returns 41.6% of the scoring, 46% of the rebounding and 62% of the minutes played for the 2003-04 season. Additional lettermen not returning are 6-6 forward Jamaal Williams and 6-11 post Chad Bell, both who elected to transfer at the end of last season. Williams is now at the University of Washington, Bell at the University of Nevada at Reno. McKay and his staff welcome nine new faces to the team in 2003-04, two transfers from other NCAA Div. I institutions (Troy DeVries and Danny Granger), two junior college transfers (Alfred Neale and Collins Ferris) and five freshmen (Justin Benson, Lenny Miles, Sean Phaler, Ryan Wall and Kellen Walter).

SEASON NOTES * David Chiotti had two double-doubles in UNM's first six games...Ruben Douglas had a team-high four last year, while UNM had seven as a team (Mark Walters 2, Jamaal Williams 1)...Chiotti score in double figures in each of the first six games...he has scored 121 points compared to 110 in 28 games last year

* Led by Alfred Neale's 13 blocks, UNM has 31 as a team, or 4.42 a game...the Lobos rejected 75 last year, or 2.67 a game...Chad Bell led New Mexico a year ago with 24 blocks

* Through games of Dec. 21, the Lobos are 13th in the nation in 3-point FGs made per game at 9.1

* UNM made their last 14 FTs in the 77-63 win over Sacramento State

* The Lobos set a school record for 3-point accuracy against San Francisco State, making 72.2% (13-18) of their attempts...the previous best was 70% (7-10) against Wyoming on Feb. 6, 1992...UNM made 9 of 10 treys in the second half against the Gators

* The 53-point margin of victory (95-42) against San Francisco State ties for the seventh largest in school history and ties for the fifth-widest in The Pit...it's the most points in a season opener since a 98-76 triumph over Southern Cal in 1997...it's also the fewest points allowed by UNM since a 74-32 victory over BYU on Feb. 3, 1997

* UNM has made a 3-pointer in 403 straight games, the 11th-longest streak in NCAA Div. I history...the last time the Lobos failed to connect was Jan. 3, 1991 at Colorado State when they missed on eight attempts...UNLV, which has never failed to make a 3 since the shot became rule in 1986-87, is the all-time leader at more than 540 in a row

* Alfred Neale recorded the first double-double of his Lobo career, finishing with a season-best 22 points and 13 rebounds against Portland...he also tied a season-high with four 3-pointers

REMEMBERING The Lobos are wearing a patch on their jerseys during the 2003-04 season that says #3BF. The patch recognizes the late Billy Feeney, a 6-9 sophomore transfer from Portland State, was expected to play a large role for the Lobos this season. Feeney committed suicide on Aug. 28. UNM recognized Feeney prior to tipoff of the Coppin State game on Dec. 21. Billy's parents, Jim and Liz, older brother Jimmy and younger sister, Kayla, were presented with a framed Lobo jersey from the UNM team.

EXHIBITION REVIEW The Lobos went 6-0 in exhibition games, including a 4-0 mark on a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, in mid-October. UNM defeated the University of Calgary, Trinity Western College, the Vancouver All-Stars and Simon Fraser. Because of the tour - which is allowed by the NCAA once every four years - UNM's first practice was Sept. 27. The Lobos had 10 workouts before the trip, then resumed regularly-scheduled practices on Oct. 21. New Mexico completed an unblemished exhibition season by ripping Team Ezybonds from Australia 107-75, then edging the EA Sports Southwest All-Stars 75-71. One constant in the Lobos' 6-0 exhibition record was good shooting. Despite a 39% showing against EA Sports, UNM shot a solid 50.1% from the floor, including a toasty 47% (66-140) from beyond the 3-point line. That's 11 treys a game. The Lobos outrebounded their opponents by nearly five a game (38.5-32.7) and held foes to 39.7% shooting, including 30% from beyond the arc. No one was hotter than senior G Javin Tindall, who averaged 19.5 points a game. He made 68% (44-65) of his shots overall, including a salty 64% (21-33) from 3-point. David Chiotti averaged 14.5 ppg and a team-high 6.8 rpg. Playing four games in three days in British Columbia in mid-October, the Lobos captured four wins thanks to hot shooting. UNM hit 52% of its field goals, including a steamy 50.5% (46-91) from the 3-point line, which was positioned at the international distance of 20'6". That's an average of 11.5 treys a game. Tindall paced three Lobos in double figures by averaging 18.5 ppg. He nailed 13 of 20 shots from beyond the arc, or 65%, and had 16 assists. Chiotti averaged 15.8 ppg and a team-high 6.3 rebounds. He notched 18 points and a tour-high 15 boards in the win over the University of Calgary. Sophomore G Jeff Hart came off the bench in all four games to average 13.8 ppg, canning 13 of 26 attempts from 3-point. Freshman F Justin Benson averaged 6.0 rebounds while freshman G Ryan Wall tallied a team-best 18 assists.

TRYING TO REVERSE A TREND After going 10-18 last season, UNM looks to avoid consecutive losing seasons for what would be only the second time in more than 40 years. New Mexico was 6-20 in 1979-80 and 11-15 in 1980-81. The Lobos have only had four losing campaigns since Bob King arrived in Albuquerque before the 1962-63 season. UNM has had three straight sub-.500 seasons in Mountain West Conference play, finishing 6-8 in both 2000-01 and 2001-02 and 4-10 last season. New Mexico had previously not had a losing record in league games since 1983. The Lobos have not had four straight losing seasons in conference play since 1980-83.

THE PIT The 2003-04 season marks the 38th year of basketball in The Pit/Bob King Court, which was completed in December of 1966. UNM has an all-time mark of 526-130 (80%) in the building that resides 37 feet below street level. The Lobos have had a winning record in The Pit in 36 of their 37 years as tenants and tore off a school-record 41-game home winning streak from 1996-98. Since the beginning of the 1995-96 season, the Lobos are 127-28 (82%) at home.

POSTSEASON PERENNIALS UNM has advanced to postseason play seven of the past eight years and 18 times in the last 20 seasons, dating to 1983-84. The Lobos participated in the NIT from 2000-02, advancing to the second round in 2000 and the quarterfinals in 2001. The Lobos have also made seven NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991, including a school-record four straight from 1996-99, moving to the second round each time. Before a first-round exit in the NIT in 2002, UNM had been one of just eight schools in the nation to win at least one postseason game (NCAA or NIT) from 1996-2001: Connecticut, Cincinnati, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Purdue, Stanford and New Mexico.

NCAA TOURNAMENT RETURNS UNM will again play host to NCAA Tournament games when the 2004 women's championship comes to The Pit. The Lobos will host first- and second-round games March 20 and 22. New Mexico is in a stretch where it will host NCAA competition for five consecutive years. The NCAA Men's First and Second Rounds were here in 2002 followed by the Women's First and Second Rounds and the Midwest Regional a season ago. UNM also hosts the Men's West Regional in 2005 and the Women's West Regional in 2006.

2002-03 REVIEW The Lobos completed their 100th season of basketball by bowing out of the Mountain West Conference Tournament in the first round. UNM fell to BYU 71-56, in a quarterfinal game. A thin New Mexico squad finished 10-18 overall, its first losing record in 20 years and only the fourth losing campaign by a Lobo squad since 1962-63. It's the fewest wins and most losses for UNM since the 1979-80 team went 6-20. The Lobos were picked to finish seventh in the MWC, and that's where they ended up with a 4-10 record. UNM has had three straight losing records in conference play, a string last seen between 1980-83. New Mexico failed to complete in postseason (NCAA or NIT) for only the second time since 1983-84. The 1994-95 team did not qualify, finishing 15-15. Prior to 2002-03, UNM had advanced to postseason seven straight years and 18 times in the previous 19 seasons. A first for the program is that a Lobo led the nation in scoring. Senior guard Ruben Douglas finished with a scoring average of 27.96, nipping Eastern Illinois' Henry Domercant by a single point. Domercant finished at 27.93 ppg. The Lobos failed to win a road game for the first time since 1979-80 and for only the second time since 1960-61. New Mexico has lost 17 straight road games, it's longest skid since a 37-game drought between 1956-57 and 1959-60. After sophomore Michael McCowan left the team on Feb. 26, UNM played the last four games with just nine players, seven on scholarship plus two walk-ons.

THE 3-POINT STORY * The Lobos averaged 7.9 treys in 2002-03 (222 in 28 games), the third-highest season average in school history...only the 1993-94 team (9.7, 300 in 31 games) and the 1997-98 team (9.4, 301 in 32 games) made more per game...the most they made in three seasons under Fran Fraschilla was 183 in 2000-01