Dec. 1, 2010
Lobo Men's Basketball -- at Southern Illinois
Wednesday: Lobos 74, Southern Illinois 59
Saturday: Lobos at New Mexico State
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It's not that SIU coach Chris Lowery got what he wished for, but he definitely got what he expected when the New Mexico Lobos stormed out of the Salukis' house with a solid 74-59 road win.
Lowery predicted Lobo coach Steve Alford would show up in Carbondale, Ill., with a team focused on playing nasty defense and that's what SIU got. UNM held Southern Illinois to 37 percent shooting as SIU's top three scorers combined to score only nine points.
SIU's leading scorer, Gene Teague, scored only three points as UNM was simply tougher and deeper inside than the Salukis.
"We executed our game plan," said Alford on the Lobo Radio Network. "We took Teague out of the game. We battled a kid who is really good. We took away the easy scores and they didn't get going in transition."
The Lobos got going in a lot of ways. They scored outside. They banged in some key treys. They got to the line. They powered inside for the all-important high-percentage buckets. Transfer Emmanuel Negedu had a breakout game with 11 points and eight rebounds.
"I told him he gets to play more minutes now," said Alford. "He was terrific. He was all over the place and worked extremely hard. He gave us the energy we've been waiting on."
The Lobos got double figures from Dairese Gary with a solid 15 points, Phillip McDonald and Negedu with 11 each, and Jamal Fenton with 10 points. UNM won the board battle 37-32 and both teams had 13 offensive rebounds. McDonald had nine boards and A.J. Hardman came down with six.
The Lobos shot 46.3 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from 3-point range (7-16). UNM had 16 assists to 13 turnovers. SIU had one starter in double figures, Carlton Fay with 10, but he went 4-of-14. SIU shot 27.3 percent from 3-point range. SIU had 15 assists to 15 turnovers.
"This was big for these young guys to learn how to win on the road," said Alford. "I thought our guys showed a lot of mental toughness tonight. It was just a really good team performance. That (Cal) was an eye-opener for them.
"This game tonight was a credit to what they did last week in practice. We really improved in a lot of areas last week in practice. It was big for these young guys to learn how to win on the road. This (win) tonight very much helps our mindset going to Cruces on Saturday."
The win raises UNM's record to 5-1 and 1-1 on the road. The Lobos fly back to Albuquerque on Thursday, bus to Las Cruces on Friday, and battle the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday in the Pan American Center.
The Lobos came out of the first half at SIU with a 33-30 lead and simply dominated the fundament aspects of the second half both on the court and on the scorecard. UNM rolled to 10-point leads of 42-32, 45-35 and 50-40.
The Lobos kept puling away. A 14-2 UNM run accented by a Kendall Williams' trey helped form UNM's 59-42 lead and SIU called time with 10:01 to play. Negedu helped UNM with the spurt scoring on a tip and a dunk.
The Lobos continued to pull away. Negedu went to work inside again. He scored and was fouled. UNM went up 62-46. A Fenton drive kept UNM up 64-48 at the 7:35 break. The Lobos offensive surge was helped by good offense, but UNM's defense was sparking that good offense. The Salukis were frustrated. At the 5:31 break, UNM was up 66-54.
SIU cut it to 66-56 before Gary powered into the lane and kicked the ball out to Fenton, who banged in the trey: 69-56. At 3:27, UNM was up 71-58, off a bucket by Hardeman.
The Salukis didn't have any answers for the Lobos' defense down the stretch. UNM coasted in for the 15-point non-conference win. A lot of the numbers that betrayed UNM at California were reversed in Carbondale.
First Half: Lobos 33, Southern Illinois 30
Stat Leaders: Gary 9 pts., Hardeman, McDonald, 4 rebs.; Fenton 4 assts.
The Lobos found a good way to jump to a quick and early lead on the road. Don't miss any shot. UNM came out and went 4-of-4 from the field to take a 10-5 lead.
Then the Lobos started missing and seven straight misses helped SIU pull into a 12-all tie at the 11:33 media break.
Fenton did what he is supposed to do coming off the bench. He was a spark. A Fenton steal and layup put UNM up 16-14. A Fenton drive and assist to Adams put UNM up 20-17. A Fenton assist to Kirk led to a 3-pointer and UNM's 23-17 forced SIU into a timeout.
Fenton wasn't through. A pass to Hardeman led to a dunk and a 25-17 Lobo lead which UNM carried into the 7:16 break. The teams played evenly into the 3:03 break. UNM got buckets from Snell and Bairstow to stay up 30-24.
The Salukis never really went on a run, but they kept chipping away. A Fay trey pulled SIU to 32-30. Fenton knocked in the second of two free throws to form the 33-30 halftime count.