Jan. 10, 2008
Playing at home for the first time in nearly three weeks, New Mexico (14-2, 1-0 MWC) entertains San Diego State (11-4, 1-0 MWC) on Saturday night. It's Pack The Pit night with all tickets just $10. Game sponsors include Alltel, KOB TV Channel 4 and Citadel Communications. The first 15,000 fans will receive Howl Towels courtesy of Alltel.
Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. from The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. The Lobos' last home game was Dec. 23 against Weber State. San Diego State fell 62-56 to Northern Colorado on Wednesday.
The game can be seen on The Mtn. with Bill Doleman and Dave Bollwinkel, plus live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.
New Mexico is 10-0 in The Pit this season, winning by an average of 22.8 points a game. San Diego State is 5-3 away from Cox Arena this season, 3-2 in true road games and 2-1 at neutral sites.
Winners of 7 straight games for the second time this year, UNM is coming off one of its more exciting weeks in a long, long time.
The Lobos prevailed 86-85 in overtime at UTEP last Wednesday, followed by a grinding 99-92 double-overtime thriller at Wyoming on Saturday. UNM trailed the Cowboys 48-32 at halftime. More tidbits about the Lobos:
NEW MEXICO-SAN DIEGO STATE SERIES
UNM has a 35-25 lead in a series that started Jan. 2, 1976. SDSU has won 4 straight and seeks its first 5-game winning streak over the Lobos in 24 years, since taking 7 in a row between 1981-84. The winning team has scored at least 70 points in each of the past 10 games. The last four games - all SDSU wins - have all been decided by 7 points or less.
Last year, the Aztecs won 73-68 in San Diego and 81-74 in overtime in The Pit. The Lobos have a 23-6 advantage in The Pit. It's tied 8-8 in MWC contests.
San Diego State is 11-4 overall and 1-0 in the MWC after slipping past TCU 64-57 last Saturday at Cox Pavilion. The Aztecs led 32-13 at halftime. SDSU is starting an all-underclassmen lineup with three juniors and a pair of freshmen. The only senior on the roster is guard Matt Thomas, who has scored just 8 points in 10 games played.
The Aztecs list four forwards and a point guard among their starters. Like the Lobos, SDSU has a lot of balance in the scoring column. Junior Lorenzo Wade is averaging 14.7 ppg, while fellow junior Kyle Spain is at 13.3 ppg and also leads the team in rebounding at 6 a game. San Diego State is last in the MWC in FG% defense, allowing 44%.
Steve Fisher is in his 17th season as a head coach and 9th year at San Diego State, which makes his tenure the longest among MWC coaches. He is 322-202 overall, 138-120 at SDSU. Fisher has an 8-9 record against UNM, 3-5 in The Pit.
LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE
Brandon Heath scored 30 points and Jerome Habel's back-to-back layups in overtime put San Diego State in front for good in an 81-74 win.
San Diego State won for the sixth time in the last seven games. New Mexico lost its fourth conference game at home for the first time since 1981.
New Mexico had a chance to win in regulation, but Chad Toppert missed on a 3-pointer with just over two seconds left. San Diego State couldn't control the rebound and the Lobos got the ball back with half a second left. Guard Darren Prentice found center Aaron Johnson open, but Johnson missed the easy layup. Johnson gave New Mexico its last lead (74-72) with two free throws with 3:40 left in overtime.
Habel, who got his first career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, scored inside, then intercepted a New Mexico pass and went in for another layup to make it 76-74.
New Mexico's Tony Danridge, who tied his career-high with 24 points, had his short jumper in the lane partially blocked and Heath countered with a 10-foot baseline jumper, his first field goal since the 11:45 mark of the second half.
Lobo guard Ryan Kersten had his shot deflected and Heath then added two free throws for a 78-74 lead with 1:21 left.
Aztec forward Lorenzo Wade scored 16 points, had 9 rebounds and a career-high 8 assists.
New Mexico led 33-24 with 2:22 left in the first half after a 12-2 run, but the Aztecs scored the final nine points. Wade scored seven of the nine, including a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left. Heath found his shooting touch over a 2 1/2 minute early in the second half, during which he hit three 3-pointers, the last one giving the Aztecs a 47-41 lead with 15:58 left.
New Mexico steadily cut into the deficit and two free throws by Danridge tied it at 62 with 3:55 left in regulation. A 3-pointer by Richie Williams put the Aztecs up 69-65 with 2:10 left but Danridge got a short jumper to roll in with 37.7 seconds left to put the Lobos up 70-69.
San Diego State reserve forward Kyle Spain hit the first of two free throws with 17.1 seconds left for the final point in regulation. Prentice scored 15 points for New Mexico and had 7 assists.
BRANDON HEATH: LOBOS SAY GOOD RIDDANCE
Former San Diego State standout Brandon Heath scored 62 points in his final two games against UNM in The Pit, both Aztec victories. He made 20-of-43 FGs and 13-of-27 attempts from 3-point.
Alford is 322-185 (63%) into his 17th season. His teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, produced 13 winning seasons and reached 20 wins on eight occasions.
This is Alford's first game against San Diego State.
In eight seasons at Iowa, Alford compiled a 152-106 record with a school-record seven consecutive winning seasons, and six postseason appearances. The Hawkeyes won two Big Ten Conference tournament titles (2001 and `06). Iowa was 17-14 in 2006-07. It was 9-7 in the Big Ten, tied with NCAA teams Illinois and Purdue for fourth place.
Prior to Iowa, Alford posted a 78-29 record in four seasons (1992-95) at NCAA Division III Manchester (Ind.) College and a four-year (1996-99) record of 78-48 at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). The Bears defeated Wisconsin and Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 1999 NCAA Tournament before losing to top-ranked Duke in the regional semifinals. In 1997 Alford led the Bears to a 24-9 record (second in the Missouri Valley Conference) and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament.
In somewhat of a rarity, Alford has never been anything but a head coach at the collegiate level. His first position came at Manchester at the age of 27.
UNM PREDICTED FOR 4TH-PLACE FINISH IN MOUNTAIN WEST
New Mexico and San Diego State were picked to finish in a tie fourth in the 2007-08 Mountain West Conference race during the league's preseason media gathering in Denver on October 17. Voters were a combination of head coaches and media. BYU was the favorite to win the league.
UNM ALL-TIME IN THE MWC
New Mexico has a 53-64 record in the Mountain West Conference, 39-19 in The Pit and 14-45 on the road. UNM is 8-37 in league road games since 2001.
NEW MEXICO LAST YEAR IN THE MWC
Picked to finish fifth in last year's MWC preseason poll, New Mexico finished 4-12, tying TCU for eighth - or last - place. UNM lost 12 conference games for the first time since 1959 when it finished 1-13 in the Skyline Conference.
UNM endured its fifth MWC losing record in the past seven seasons. The Lobos' only winning mark in league play since 2000 was 10-4 in 2005. UNM was 8-8 in 2005-06. New Mexico never had a losing league record from 1984-2000, a span of 17 seasons.
Lobo senior Tony Danridge suffered a broken left fibula during a game with teammates on Oct. 4. He had surgery on Oct. 8 and is expected to miss three months. Danridge, a 6-5 senior from San Bernardino, Calif., posted 12.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season and was named 3rd team All-MWC. He was the only Lobo to play in all 95 games over the past three seasons, not missing a game to this point in his Lobo career. He does have a redshirt year available.
WYOMING RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
Jamaal Smith scored 24 points, including 11 in overtime, to lead New Mexico over Wyoming 99-92 in double overtime Saturday.
Smith hit three 3-pointers in the second half to help the Lobos overcome a 16-point halftime deficit.
J.R. Giddens scored five straight points to put New Mexico ahead 73-71 with 22 seconds remaining in regulation, but Wyoming's Joseph Taylor banked in a turnaround jumper on the ensuing possession to send the game into overtime.
Giddens scored four more points in the first overtime to give the Lobos an 82-81 lead with 22.2 seconds left, but a Taylor free throw with 17.9 seconds left tied the score at 82, forcing a second overtime. Giddens finished with 16 points, and Darren Prentice added 12 points for New Mexico. Ryan Dermody led Wyoming with 24 points.
Taylor finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Brad Jones and Brandon Ewing each scored 15 for the Cowboys.
Dermody hit three 3-pointers during a 19-4 run that gave Wyoming a 26-15 lead with 11:25 remaining in the first half. New Mexico pulled within 39-32 10 minutes later, but Wyoming scored the final nine points of the period to take a 48-32 lead into halftime. The Lobos got back into the game with a 16-2 run to open the second half.
Senior Jamaal Smith
Junior Chad Toppert
Senior J.R. Giddens
Junior Daniel Faris
SUPERLATIVES IN O-T WIN AT UTEP
The Lobos established some new standards in the 86-85 overtime win over UTEP on Jan. 2:
NON-CONFERENCE STREAK IN THE PIT
The Lobos have won 31 consecutive non-conference home games, and 47 of the past 48. The last loss was 81-64 to 5th-ranked Wake Forest on Dec. 22, 2004.
BIG-TIME DEFENSE AGAINST WEBER STATE
New Mexico side-swiped Weber State 62-32 at home on Dec. 23. The 32 points ties for the fewest by a Lobo opponent in The Pit, which opened in December of 1966. UNM beat BYU 74-32 on Feb. 3, 1997.
It also ties for the fewest points allowed by a Steve Alford-coached team during his 17-year coaching career. On March 12, 1999, Alford's Southwest Missouri State squad beat Wisconsin 43-32 in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte N.C.
It was 34-12 UNM at halftime. The 12 points are the fewest by a UNM opponent in the first half since Dec. 29, 1972, when the Lobos had a 40-9 halftime lead over Dartmouth.
HOLDING DOWN SOME OF THE BIG GUNS
New Mexico really put the clamps on the opponents' top scorers in a couple of non-conference games:
IT'S A REAL T.E.A.M.
Some pretty interesting facts about the 10-man Lobos team through the first 16 games of the season:
And, since everyone plays the Lobo bench has made huge contributions. The reserves contributed 49 points in the 86-58 win over Loyola Marymount, including 19 of the first 23 and 26 of 43 in the first half.
UNM's reserves have scored 40.9% (504 of 1,232) of the points and pulled down 38.3% (208 of 543) of the individual rebounds this season. That's averages of 31.5 points and 13 rebounds a game.
FREE THROWS IMPROVING
The Lobos opened the season by shooting a chilly 60.4% from the free-throw line in the first 6 games. The past 10 contests, the accuracy is 71.4% (187-262), raising the season percentage to 68.1%. UNM has attempted a whopping 120 free throws the past 3 games - an average of 40 a game - making 83 (69%).
3-POINT RECORD FALLS
The Lobos' 81.8% (9-11) accuracy from 3-point against Texas Tech is a school record and it tied the Mountain West Conference record (San Diego State - Dec. 15, 2006). The previous UNM record was 72.2% (13-18) vs. San Francisco State in 2003.
TOPPERT NO. 1 FROM 3
Junior Chad Toppert continues to swing back and forth for the top spot as UNM's most accurate 3-point shooter. He has made 45.07% (142-315) of his tries, No. 1 on list. Troy DeVries is 2nd at 44.95% (147-327).
Toppert is 2nd in the league in 3-point shooting (2.69 a game) and accuracy (48.3%) this season.
IT'S A FIRST FOR LOBO HOOPS
For the first time since the 3-point shot was introduced into college basketball before the 1986-87 season, UNM canned at least 13 3-pointers in three straight games. The historic feat came during the Basketball Travelers Invitational when the Lobos were 13 of 28 against Presbyterian, 13 of 28 against St. Bonaventure and 13 of 26 against Loyola Marymount. That's a 47.6% clip for the 3-game tournament.
3s AND COUNTING
UNM has made a 3-pointer in 564 straight games, the 12th-longest active streak in NCAA Div. I. UNLV is 1st at more than 660 games. The last time UNM failed to connect from long range was Jan. 3, 1991, missing on 8 attempts against Colorado State in The Pit.
The 28 assists in the 92-57 win over Eastern Washington is UNM's highest total in 10 years, since it had 32 in a 112-61 victory over Holy Cross on Dec. 29, 1997.
The Lobos are averaging 17.3 assists a game compared to 15.1 in 2006-07.