Dec. 15, 2007
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico fans will relish their team's latest win. Too bad coach Steve Alford can't enjoy it as much.
Freshman Dairese Gary scored a career-high 18 points, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor and hitting all four of his 3-point tries in New Mexico's 80-63 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.
It gave Alford, New Mexico's first-year coach, his second win in five tries against Bob Knight, his coach at Indiana.
"It was very difficult, and I said that going into the game," said Alford, who grew up in New Castle, Ind. "I don't like pulling against Coach Knight. You've got to understand, I'm somebody who from third grade on went to his basketball camp."
New Mexico enjoyed a 30-23 rebounding advantage and had 13 offensive boards. Alford even threw in a little zone defense on inbounds plays to go with the man-to-man he learned under Knight.
"When I compete against Coach Knight, it's bittersweet," Alford said. "It's great for our program. I love winning, but I don't like the fact it had to be against a team and a coach that means a lot to me."
Knight understands. He recalled how difficult it was to face his old coach at Ohio State, the late Fred Taylor, early in his coaching days at Indiana.
Then there are all those former Knight players and assistants who have populated the head coaching ranks through the years.
"You're trying to win, and yet it's not the enjoyment you get out of winning a game where there's no personal involvement with the other team," Knight said. "That's never been easy for me, and I don't think it's easy for anybody."
Mike Singletary came off the bench to score 25 points for Texas Tech (6-4) while Trevor Cook and John Roberson each had 12.
Alford had beaten Knight only once in their first four meetings as coaches. In their most recent showdown three years ago, Alford's Iowa team handily beat Knight and Texas Tech, 83-53.
Alford, a two-time All-American, captained the Indiana team that won the 1987 NCAA title - the most recent of Knight's three national championships. Alford was waiting at New Mexico's bench when Knight walked to the floor just before tipoff.
Knight shook Alford's hand and wrapped an arm around his protege. They exchanged words, Alford smiled and laughed, then Knight walked to the visitors' bench.
"I've always been proud of Steve, but Steve does things that make you proud," Knight said.
New Mexico students taunted Knight with chants of "Bob-by! Bob-by!" and the 16,720 fans who filled The Pit were ramped up and noisy all day, making a hostile environment the Red Raiders.
"I wish we played in front of a crowd at home like this," Knight said. "It was a great basketball atmosphere."
The Lobos quickly jumped to a 14-2 lead through the first 6 1/2 minutes. Everything went right for New Mexico, even Gary's one-handed 47-footer at the halftime buzzer for a 44-26 lead.
Knight grabbed referee Scott Thornley at the scorer's table, angrily protesting whether the shot went off in time.
"I thought it was a horrendous call," Knight said. "We would have been in a little better position when we came out at the half, but that's not a game-breaker."
Maybe it was no mistake that in a matchup between Alford and Knight, an Indiana product was the player of the game. Gary played last season at Concord High School in Elkhart, Ind.
The big storyline - Alford vs. Knight - wasn't lost on the freshman.
"It was exciting, both of them being from Indiana," Gary said. "Folks from back home were calling, talking about the newspaper clippings and all that."
New Mexico, meanwhile, made all six of its 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes, and every Lobo who suited up had scored by halftime.
The Red Raiders just couldn't anything get going. Martin Zeno, the team's leading scorer a 16.7 average, came out early in the first half . Knight shouted at him after a turnover and Zeno, who went scoreless, didn't return.
"I thought we played better without Zeno in the game. It's that simple," Knight said.
Alan Voskuil, Texas Tech's No. 2 scorer with a 13.6 average, didn't log any points until hitting two free throws 3 1/2 minutes into the second half. He finished with five points.
"Taking Zeno and Voskuil out of the game were huge keys for us," Alford said.