STEVENS: No. 19 Ranked Lobos Roll Northern Arizona 96-57
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/16/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Dec. 16, 2009

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Wednesday: Lobos 96, Northern Arizona 57
Saturday: Creighton at Lobos, 7 p.m., Saturday
On The Air: The Mtn.; 770-AM KKOB, Lobo Radio Network
Online: GameTracker, game story on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

You want to watch the No 19 ranked, undefeated Lobos (11-0) play ball in The Pit this weekend? Then get your ticket fast. "We need to keep this thing rolling," said Lobo coach Steve Alford.

The Lobos added a roll and a win to their gaudy record by rolling Northern Arizona out of The Pit 96-57 Wednesday night. New Mexico is fast approaching the Lobos' second sellout of the season when Creighton visits ranked territory at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"If you haven't got your tickets yet, let's get `em," said Alford. "It`s been ten years since our fans have been able to cheer in The Pit for a team that's ranked. We want to perform so badly for them in a good way. We want to build something special here."

Special is already here. This is only the third team in 107 seasons of Lobo basketball to race to an 11-0 start. The last UNM team to go 11-0 was the 1973-74 Lobos. The Lobos also are ranked for the first time since March of 1999.

The Lobos ran to a 17-2 lead to start the game and went on a 10-2 run to start the second half as the Lobos cut down the NAU Lumberjacks by 39 whacks. The Lumberjacks were having trouble with the Lobo starters, but when the Lobo subs starting playing well, too -- well, it was all over.

The Lobo bench did not score in the first half, but chipped in 35 points in the second half.

"We had pretty good spurtability tonight," said Alford forming a word for UNM's ability to go on quick, scoring runs. "This is one of the most unselfish teams I've ever had. It's not about one guy getting 40. They are very unselfish."

New Mexico had eight players score eight points or more: Roman Martinez 17, Phillip McDonald 14, Dairese Gary 11, Jamal Fenton 11, A.J. Hardeman 10, Curtis Dennis 10, Darington Hobson 9 and Nate Garth 8. It was the first time in Gary's three-year career at UNM that he has posted double figures in three consecutive games.

The Lobos went up 46-28 just over four minutes into the second half, were up 78-46 with 6:51 to play.

"Overall, I think we did a great job," said Hobson. "We have great shooters. That's one of our strengths is hitting the 3-point shot. But we also know we can't rely on that all the time and we have to keep taking the ball to the bucket."

UNM had 24 assists to four turnovers. Maybe when your shot doesn't have magic in it, you need to put on a Magic Johnson act. That's kind of what Hobson did against the Lumberjacks. The Lobo junior was throwing darts with his passes as he dished out nine assists to match his nine points.

"He is just very talented and he sees the floor very well," said Alford. "We could play him at point, if we have to."

Hobson handed UNM its first 20-point lead at 56-36 and when Garth added a trey to make it 65-42, you could tell the Lobos were going to run away from the visitors from Flagstaff. The 39-point romp was the largest gap this season between UNM and its opponent.

"We have a lot of guys who can shoot the basketball," said Alford. "Now we have to get our defense anchored going into conference."

First Half -- Lobos 36, Northern Arizona 26

The Lobos definitely started the game looking like the No. 19 team in the nation frolicking on their home court. All five starters scored as UNM raced to a 14-0 lead that forced NAU into a timeout. The first four Lobo baskets were treys by Martinez, Hobson, McDonald and Gary. Hardeman spoiled that run of treys with a follow-up tip to form UNM's 14-0 lead.

NAU finally scored to make it 14-2. McDonald launched in another deep one to push UNM up 17-2 and then he added two more at the line to make it 19-2.

The game that started out as a UNM rout then went down a different path. The Lumberjacks threw out an 11-0 run that cut UNM's lead to 19-13 and convinced Alford to burn a timeout.

UNM came out of that break with a Martinez trey to cut the NAU run and put UNM up 22-13. The Lumberjacks weren't ready to roll over. Cameron Jones scored an old-fashioned 3-point play to make it 22-17. UNM's 17-point lead had been cut to five points.

The Lobos then cut into NAU's confidence with some solid defense that led to a dunk by Hardeman and a layup by Gary to push UNM up 26-17. A trey by McDonald handed UNM a 29-19 lead going into a media break with 5:52 to play. At the 3:48 media break, the score was still frozen at 29-19 -- UNM up 10 points.

The Lobos used a McDonald trey and a Gary drive with four seconds left to carry that 10-point lead into the half at 36-26.

McDonald was the top gun for UNM in the first half with 14 points, going 4-of-7 from behind the line. Gary and Martinez scored seven points each. UNM shot 40 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from behind the line. UNM had only three turnovers in the half.

The Lumberjacks got eight points from Jones and six points inside from Shane Johannsen. NAU outrebounded UNM 19-to-15. NAU had eight turnovers and shot 42 percent from the field.