Lobos Host League-Leading Utes Saturday Afternoon
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/20/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 20, 2004

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The New Mexico Lobos continue a three-game homestand Saturday, facing another hot team in the Utah Utes. Tipoff is 1:04 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court. The game will be televised by ESPN+Plus with local coverage by KRQE. It will also be available on ESPN's Full Court package on DirecTV. BYU follows the Utes to town on Monday night. Tipoff is 10 p.m. for the Big Monday affair.

New Mexico is 9-6 and 0-2 in the MWC after a startling 68-42 loss to streaking Air Force last Saturday. The defeat halted UNM's seven-game home winning streak and was the Falcons' first win in The Pit after 22 losses. UNM's ninth win last year came in the 22nd game of the season, Feb. 17 against Colorado State in The Pit. A victory Saturday would equal New Mexico's win total from last year (10-18).

New Mexico has not started 0-3 in conference play since going 0-4 in 1979-80.

After meeting an Air Force team that had won eight straight games and was No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, Utah comes in riding a nine-game winning streak and is No. 2 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 53.9 points a game. The Utes are 15-3 overall and atop the Mountain West Conference standings at 3-0 after sweeping Wyoming and Colorado State at home.

The Utes are 1st in the MWC and 5th in the nation in 3-point accuracy, making 41.7% (105-252) of their tries. The Lobos are last in the MWC in 3-point FG% defense, allowing 35.3%, including 52.6% by foes (20-38) in a pair of league games. Opponents have connected on 43% (53-123) the past six games. Utah was 24-64 from 3-point in two games last year against New Mexico - 12 treys in each game - including a school-record 40 attempts in the loss in The Pit.

UNM has had a full roster the past nine games - since Dec. 21 - when midseason transfers Troy DeVries (Portland State) and Danny Granger (Bradley) became eligible. The 6'8" Granger is averaging 20.7 points and 10.7 rebounds, including MVP honors in the Lobo Invitational when he had 26 points and a Mountain West Conference record eight steals against Penn State. He also had 16 rebounds against New Mexico State, the most caroms by a Lobo since the late Patrick Dennehy pulled down 17 against Alcorn State on Dec. 1, 2001. Granger became the first Lobo since Kenny Thomas in 1997-98 to record four straight double-doubles. Thomas did so the first five games that season.

DeVries is averaging 12.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists, including 12 assists against Coppin State, the best total by a Lobo in 12 years. He is shooting 46% (26-57) from 3-point, an average of 2.9 treys a game.

LOBO 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.

LOBOS VS. UTAH - It's game No. 111 in a series that started Jan. 3, 1952. The Utes have a commanding 72-38 lead and have won 10 of the last 13. Utah has a 6-2 advantage in MWC games. The Lobos lead 32-23 in Albuquerque, 28-12 in The Pit. The Utes have won 14 straight in Salt Lake City. The Lobos' last win there was 79-76 on February 16, 1989.

Each team won on its home floor last year, Utah 78-68 at Salt Lake and the Lobos 76-69 in The Pit when the Utes were ranked No. 22. Ruben Douglas set school records with 26 FTs made and 31 FTs attempted in that game. UNM is 7-3 in The Pit against ranked Utah teams coached by Majerus.

Last year in Albuquerque: Ruben Douglas scored 39 points and shattered single-game school records for free throws made and attempted as the Lobos upended No. 22 Utah 76-69, in The Pit, snapping the Utes' MWC-record nine-game conference winning streak. Douglas sank 26 of 31 FTs, including nine of 10 in the final 1:22, as Utah sent New Mexico to the line 26 times in the final five minutes.

UNM earned its first victory over a ranked team since defeating the 21st-ranked Utes 72-65, on Feb. 19, 2000, in The Pit. The Lobos had dropped their last three games versus ranked opposition. Utah attempted a school-record 40 shots from 3-point, making 12, but hit a season-low 37.3% (25-67) from the floor overall.

Last year in Salt Lake City: Ruben Douglas again had a stellar night, but it couldn't equate into a Lobo victory as outmanned UNM dropped a 78-68 decision at Utah. Douglas scored 32 points, including 5-of-8 shots from 3-point and 13-of-15 attempts from the free throw line. Marc Jackson, Britton Johnsen and Tim Frost combined for 51 points. The Utes were deadly from 3-point, nailing 12 out of 24 attempts.

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 102-113, 19-24 at New Mexico. McKay is 4-12 in conference games while at UNM, 4-4 at The Pit, 0-8 on the road. He is 2-2 in his career against Utah, 1-0 in Albuquerque.

While at Mountain West Conference member Colorado State, McKay led the Colorado State Rams to the NIT in 1999.

AIR FORCE RECAP / NOTES - Center Nick Welch scored 18 points, including four straight 3-pointers in the second half, as Air Force beat New Mexico 68-42, the Falcons' first win in Albuquerque in 42 years. AFA got its school-record ninth straight win and its first victory ever in The Pit, snapping an 0-for-22 streak in the arena built in 1966.

UNM led only once in the opening minutes of the game and had difficulty defending the Falcons' 3-point shooting and defense, which held the Lobos to a season-low point total. Danny Granger was the only New Mexico player in double figures with 15 points.

* The 42 points are the fewest by UNM at home since a 57-39 loss to Utah in 1999 and the third-lowest total scored by the Lobos in The Pit...UNM lost to San Diego State 61-37 in 1983...the 26-point margin is the 4th-worst loss in the Pit overall and the 2nd-widest in a conference game

* New Mexico played in front of a sellout crowd of 18,018 for the first time in over two years...the last sellout was against New Mexico State on Dec. 16, 2001, a game which UNM won 70-49

* Air Force took a 5-3 lead at the 17:03 mark of the first half, marking the first time an opponent had led in The Pit in eight games since Texas Tech's 67-58 victory on Dec. 6...UNM had led for nearly 283 minutes before falling behind early...Air Force led for all but the first 2:57 of the game

* Five days after recording a season-low eight turnovers at Wyoming, New Mexico committed eight turnovers in the first nine minutes of the game against Air Force...the Lobos had turnovers on eight of their first 13 possessions of the first half...UNM finished with 17 turnovers and matched a season-low for the second straight game with 8 assists

* Air Force shot a season-high 62.5% (25-40), including 75% (12-16) in the second half, the best by a UNM opponent this year...the Falcons only missed one 2-point basket after halftime, going 7 of 8 from inside the arc...Air Force hit a season-high 60% (12-20) from 3-point, also the best against UNM this season...the Lobos, meanwhile, matched a season-low with 3 3-pointers...AFA shot 61.5% (24-39) from the floor in the teams' last meeting, a 68-60 Falcon win in Colorado Springs on March 8, 2003

* The first nine games UNM allowed 59 ppg, and opponents shot 37.5% from the floor and 29.4% from 3-point...the past six games, UNM has yielded 70.5 ppg on 49% (150-306) shooting, 43% (53-123) from 3-point

* Danny Granger had 15 points and 8 rebounds to end his consecutive streak of double-doubles at four games, one short of the MWC record...he is still the first Lobo since Kenny Thomas in 1997-98 to record four straight double-doubles

* UNM is now 0-4 when it trails at halftime, 9-2 when it leads at the break

NO SLIGHT TO DEVRIES AND GRANGER - Even though their averages and percentages warrant placement in the rankings, you won't find Troy DeVries or Danny Granger's names listed among the leaders in NCAA or Mountain West Conference statistical categories for awhile. The NCAA and MWC require a minimum of 75 percent participation in a team's games to be eligible for the rankings. Provided they don't miss any future games, the duo will be eligible after New Mexico's 24th game of the season, which is Feb. 23 at Utah. That will be DeVries and Granger's 18th game, thus meeting the required minimum of games played for inclusion in the stats.

Were they eligible, Granger would be leading the MWC in both scoring (20.7) and rebounding (10.7), while DeVries would be 1st in the league in 3-pointers per game (2.9).

CONSISTENCY - The Lobos have used the same starting lineup - David Chiotti, Danny Granger, Alfred Neale, Troy DeVries and Javin Tindall - for the past nine games. That quintet is 6-3. The last time UNM employed the same starters for more than eight straight games was Feb. 12-March 20, 2001, when Wayland White, Brian Smith, Marlon Parmer, Ruben Douglas and Eric Chatfield drew the nod. That group started 12 consecutive times.

Head coach Ritchie McKay has used four different starting lineups this season compared to 16 last year. Fran Fraschilla used eight combinations in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, and nine in 2001-02. The 1997-98 Lobos used the same starting five the first 25 games of the season: Clayton Shields, David Gibson, Lamont Long, Kenny Thomas and Royce Olney. That lineup was interrupted only after Olney tore his ACL at TCU in late February.

IT'S RAINING 3s - The 3-point shot is definitely part of the Lobo arsenal. Through games of Jan. 19, New Mexico is averaging 8.87 treys a game to rank 1st in the MWC and 8th nationally out of 326 schools.

Javin Tindall is 1st in the MWC, averaging 2.60 made a game, while Alfred Neale ranks 11th at 1.67 a game. Although not in the official rankings yet, Troy DeVries is averaging a team-best 2.9 treys after nine games.

More tidbits about the 3-ball proficiency:

* 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 school record for 3s in a season is 301 set in 32 games in 1997-98...at 9.29 a game, the current Lobos are on 30-game pace for 266, which would rank No. 3 for a single season

* The single-season standard for 3-pt. FGs made per game is 9.67...the 1993-94 team made 300 in 31 games...last year's Lobos rank third at 7.9 (222 made in 28 games)

* The single-season mark for highest percentage is 43.4% (157-362) set in 1988-89...only one other team has converted better than 40%, the 1997-98 squad making 40.2% (301-748)...UNM is currently at 38.2%

* UNM has made at least one 3-pointer in 411 straight games...the last time it didn't was Jan. 3, 1991, missing on 8 attempts against Colorado State...since the 3-point shot became part of college basketball in 1986-87, the Lobos have made 10 or more 79 times...UNM's record in those games is 65-14

* The Lobos' streak of 411 games ranks as the 13th-longest streak in NCAA history...UNLV is first at more than 550 games...the Runnin' Rebels had made a 3 in every game since the shot became rule in 1986-87

* The Lobos have made 10 or more seven times this season...UNM has drained 15 or more twice at home...the 1993-94 team accomplished that feat four times

* New Mexico is averaging 9.4 treys a game and shooting 40% in 12 home games

* Eleven different Lobos have canned a 3-pointer this season

* UNM attempted a season-high 35 3-point attempts against San Diego, matching the third-most tries in school history...New Mexico also attempted 35 vs. New Mexico State on Dec. 13, 1996...UNM hit 15 of its attempts vs. USD, tying for eighth on the single-game list

* The Lobos hit a season-high 16 3-pointers in the win against Penn State, equaling the fourth-best effort in school history...UNM last hit 16 versus Sacramento State on Dec. 19, 1998...the school record is 18 set against Holy Cross on Dec. 29, 1997

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT - The Lobo defense has made some strides compared to last year's team:

* UNM allowed 73.2 points last year, the highest average in 16 seasons, and opponents scored 70 or more points 17 times...through 15 games this season, the Lobos have yielded a stingy 63.6 ppg and only four teams have reached 70 points

* New Mexico is 5-0 when holding opponents to less than 60 points

* New Mexico held Northwestern State to just 24.2% (15-62) shooting from the floor, the lowest by a Lobo opponent in six years when Yale shot 23.1% (12-52) in the championship game of the 1997 Lobo Invitational

DISTRIBUTORS - The Lobos are 2nd in the MWC in team assist average at 15.93 a game. That number is nearly four assists better than last year's average of 12.11, which ranked last in the loop. The primary reason for more assists is that UNM is shooting much better than a year ago, 46.8% this season compared to 42.3% last year. The Lobos' assist-to-basket ratio is 239-363 or 66%. Last year's was 51% (339-659).

SEASON TRENDS / NOTES * The Lobos' victory over San Diego was the 1,200th in school history

* UNM won seven straight games at The Pit between Dec. 8-Jan. 9, the longest home winning streak since taking seven in a row from Dec. 1, 2001-Jan. 5, 2002...during the skein, the Lobos won by an average of 17.8 points and did not trail

* The Lobos have lost 20 straight road games overall, 21 consecutive away from The Pit including neutral sites, and dropped 13 MWC road games in a row

* UNM has outshot its opponents in all nine wins this season

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

* New Mexico is 9-3 when scoring 60 or more points this year, 0-3 with less than 60

* Danny Granger notched a career-high and MWC record-tying 8 steals (7 in the second half) against Penn State, a total that ties for third on the UNM single-game charts...Marlow White was the most recent Lobo to get 8 or more thefts, notching 8 vs. BYU on Feb. 4, 1995...the school record is 10 by Phil Abney in 1979...New Mexico recorded a season-high 12 steals as a team

* UNM received a season-high 40 points from nine players off the bench against Northwestern State...the previous best was 32 points (five players) versus New Mexico Highlands on Nov. 24...11 players logged double digit minutes against Northwestern State

* UNM's +21 (44-23) board domination against New Mexico State is the largest margin since a 46-22 edge against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 24, 1999

* Danny Granger (5) and David Chiotti (3) have combined for eight double-doubles and the team has nine (points-rebounds)...Ruben Douglas had a team-high four last year, while UNM only had seven as a team (Mark Walters 2, Jamaal Williams 1)

* 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

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 531-131 (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 132-29 (82%) at home.