Jan. 31, 2008
From the frying pan to the fryer. After facing preseason conference favorite BYU in its last game, New Mexico (16-5, 3-3 MWC) now meets MWC co-leader UNLV (16-4, 5-1 MWC) Saturday in Las Vegas. Tipoff is 8:05 p.m. Mountain Time from the Thomas and Mack Center.
The game can be seen live on The Mtn. with Rich Cellini and Barry Hecker, plus live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.
The Lobos' last outing was a tough one as they ran into a hot-shooting BYU team. The Cougars drained 13 of 16 shots from 3-point en route to an 83-66 victory in Provo. BYU had a staggering 25 assists on 27 made baskets while holding UNM to a season-low 34.4% (22-64) shooting from the floor.
New Mexico enters Saturday's game at UNLV tied with Air Force and TCU for 4th place in the conference standings.
UNLV is 16-4 overall and tied with BYU atop the MWC standings. The Runnin' Rebels dispatched TCU 70-58 Wednesday in Fort Worth. Wink Adams scored 25 points, including 15 off 3-pointers, to lead UNLV. Adams shot 8-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. He also had five assists. Joe Darger added 12 points for the Runnin' Rebels, who won their fourth straight
Alford is 324-188 (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.
Alford is facing UNLV for the first time in his career.
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.
NEW MEXICO-UNLV SERIES
It's game No. 122 in a series that started Jan. 29, 1950. BYU has a 71-50 lead and has won 4 straight, 14 of the past 18 overall and 7 in a row in Provo. The Cougars lead 11-5 in MWC games.
UNM-UNLV: LAST YEAR IN LAS VEGAS
Wink Adams scored a game-high 27 points, including four free throws in the final seconds of overtime, to lift UNLV over New Mexico 76-72.
With it 72-72 in the closing seconds of overtime, Adams was fouled while driving the lane with 3.1 seconds left. After he made both free throws, New Mexico turned it over on the inbound pass.
Adams grabbed it and was fouled with 1.2 seconds left. He sealed the win with two more free throws.
Adams was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line and 5-of-13 from 3-point range.
In overtime, UNLV scored the first four points, but the Lobos later cut it to 72-71 on a Tony Danridge field goal with 48 seconds left. After a Rebel turnover, New Mexico's Ryan Kersten was fouled with 12 seconds left. He made one of two free throws, setting up Adams dramatics.
Except for two brief one-point Rebels leads, the Lobos led for most of the second half.
LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE
Kevin Kruger scored a career-high 29 points and his late block of a shot by New Mexico's best 3-point shooter sealed UNLV's 85-83 win. New Mexico used a furious second half rally to nearly pull out a win.
Kruger hit seven 3-pointers and had 9 assists, but his biggest play was his block of Chad Toppert's 3-point shot with four seconds left. Toppert got a chance for a game-winner after teammate Darren Prentice missed the second of two free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining for the game's final point.
Kruger's block sent the ball out of bounds and New Mexico got one more shot with 0.5 seconds remaining. J.R. Giddens, who led the Lobos with a career-high 28 points and scored 11 of the Lobos' last 12 points, put up an off-balance 3-pointer that was short.
UNLV used a 17-0 run to open up a 58-42 lead with 13:11 left. Kruger hit a pair of 3-pointers and added two free throws off a technical call on Ritchie McKay in the midst of the run. McKay was hit with the technical after slamming his clipboard to the court while arguing with an official during a timeout.
But New Mexico wasn't finished. The Lobos answered with an 11-2 run. A short jumper in the lane by Tony Danridge cut the UNLV lead to 60-53 with 10:15 left. Moments later the Lobos put together another 11-2 run to get within 68-66. Prentice finished the run with five straight points on a 3-pointer and then a layup after he stole a pass.
The teams traded leads, Giddens carrying the Lobos' offense with a variety of drives to the basket and outside jumpers and Kruger hit a pair of clutch shots. Joel Anthony gave the Rebels the lead for good (80-78) with a dunk with 1:27 left and 20 seconds later Kruger followed with his final 3-pointer.
Giddens countered with a 3-pointer to make it 83-81 and had a chance to tie it with 23.7 seconds left but missed the first of two free throws. UNLV guard Wink Adams then hit two free throws with 20.4 seconds left.
New Mexico led 29-16 in the first half after scoring nine straight points but the Rebels closed out the first half with a 12-2 run to tie it at 37-37 at halftime.
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 55-67 record in the Mountain West Conference, 41-20 in The Pit and 14-47 on the road. UNM is 8-39 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.
SEASON NO. 105
The 2007-08 season is the 105th in school history. The Lobos first laced up the hightops on Feb. 2, 1900, when they lost 8-6 to the Albuquerque Guards. While this season is actually the 106th anniversary of that inaugural year, UNM did not field a team for various reasons in 1900-01, 1903-04, 1917-18 and 1920-21.
The Lobos have been on the hardwoods continuously since the 1921-22 season and have compiled an all-time record of 1,280-1,002 (.560). New Mexico was 420-498 (.457) from 1900-62, but has gone 860-504 (.631) over the past 44-plus seasons, an average of nearly 19 wins per year.
The Lobos have made 27 trips to the postseason during that span, including 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and 16 showings in the NIT.
BYU RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
Lee Cummard scored 20 points and Jonathan Tavernari added 19 to lead Brigham Young past New Mexico 83-66. BYU wasted no time securing its 42nd consecutive home win in front of a season high 19,932 fans. The Cougars trailed at 2-0, but after Sam Burgess connected on a 3-pointer to give BYU a 5-2 lead they never trailed again.
Burgess gave BYU a hot start by scoring all nine of his first half points in the first five minutes of the game. Then it was Tavernari's turn. He followed with 16 first-half points as the Cougars took a commanding 44-24 lead at the break.
BYU shot 51 percent overall for the game and was 13-of-16 from behind the 3-point line, including 5-of-6 from long range by Tavernari and 3-of-3 from Burgess. New Mexico shot 27 percent in the first half including 1-of-5 from beyond the 3-point line and 34 percent for the game.
Freshman Dairese Gary
Junior Daniel Faris
Junior Chad Toppert
Senior J.R. Giddens