Jan. 23, 2010
Saturday: Lobos 82, Colorado State 64
Wednesday: Brigham Young at Lobos, 8 p.m., The Pit
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
OK, all Lobos can finally say it: Bring on BYU.
"Now, we can focus on them," said Lobo Roman Martinez of the Brigham Young Cougars' upcoming visit.
Said Lobo coach Steve Alford: "We are really looking forward to (Wednesday). We have a chance to play arguably the best team in our league on our court."
The New Mexico Lobos kept the sharp edge of urgency on league-leading BYU's Pit visit by shearing the Colorado State Rams 82-64 Saturday afternoon in University Arena.
The Lobos used a 16-to-1 scoring spurt at the close of the first half to help UNM pull out of a 21-20 deficit and grab a 38-24 halftime lead. UNM is now 18-3 overall and 4-2 in Mountain West play.
"We had a lot of energy," said Lobo Dairese Gary, who topped all scorers with 17 points. "Everyone who came in contributed."
Said Alford: "Dairese was tremendous. Dairese controlled this basketball game. He controlled the game at both ends."
Gary, who went 10-for-10 at the line, was joined in double figures by Martinez with 12, Phillip McDonald with 11 and Darington Hobson with 10. UNM outrebounded CSU 48 to 30 and had 17 offensive boards to five for the visitors from Fort Collins, Colo.
UNM got 27 points and 17 boards off its bench.
"It was just a really good team effort," said Alford. "I thought we got good minutes out of everybody we played. "Our backboard work was outstanding."
Said CSU coach Tim Miles of UNM's bench: "When those other guys come in and hurt you, that's what hurts."
"Our bench has been really good the past two weeks," said Alford. "If our bench keeps getting better, we can become a dangerous team."
The Lobos came out of the halfway break up by 14 points. A Martinez trey at 17:05 pushed UNM up 46-29 (17 points) and CSU called a timeout. It was just too big a hole to stumble into in The Pit. The hole widened to 48-29 a few minutes later when A.J. Hardeman cradled a Gary miss and threw down a one-handed dunk.
The Lobos opened the half shooting 80 percent. The biggest questions at that point were whether the Lobos could keep up their intensity and if the Rams would roll over.
The Rams showed decent fight to the end and intensity wasn't really a question. The Lobos were having fun in The Pit, running and gunning, and they just put their engine into cruise mode and rolled to the 18-point final.
"I do think we are getting better," said Alford. "I think we are better defensively than we were two weeks ago."
The Lobos had some fun after the game teasing Gary about a hammer dunk he threw down in the closing minutes. The Lobos like to tell the powerful point guard that his jumping ability isn't what it used to be.
"Wow, what a dunk," said Martinez. "I haven't seen that in a while. I thought he was an old man."
Said Alford: "That was a good dunk. He threw it down. hard. He got up there."
Gary didn't say much to his teammates about his dunk, but he did have a message to Lobo fans concerning the BYU game. "Please come out," he said. "We're looking forward to how wild that is going to be."
First Half -- Lobos 38, Colorado State 24
The run the Lobos were looking for and the Rams were trying to keep away from UNM hit CSU hard in the final minutes of the first half.
The Rams had done a decent job of controlling the tempo and the UNM shooters. CSU went up 21-20 off a 3-pointer and then the Lobos went off on the Rams. A few minutes later UNM was up 36-22, thanks to a 16-1 burst.
The Lobos took a quick lead in the half on a Gary Trey. A McDonald bomb from behind the arc had UNM up 8-6. CSU got a 15-footer from Busch to form an 8-all tie at the first media break. Both teams were running pretty good offense at that point and getting nice looks at the basket. CSU was shooting 60 percent from the floor to 42.9 percent for UNM.
UNM went up 16-10 on a Brown follow after a Fenton miss. The Rams then scored three times inside to tie the game at 16-all. The Pit grumbled its disapproval. Garth quickly changed The Pit's disposition with a drive and a pass to Brown for a dunk. CSU again scored inside: 18-all.
The teams settled for that tie going into a media timeout at 7:22. The Lobos had taken 10 more shots than CSU at that point -- 25-to-15 -- but both teams had eight field goals.
Garth came out of the UNM huddle and pushed UNM up 20-18 on two free throws. A CSU trey off a Hobson turnover pushed the Rams up 21-20. Gary rolled in two free throws and UNM was up 22-21. Dennis came off the bench and hit a jumper: 25-22. UNM ran off a CSU miss and Hardeman threw in an acrobatic shot under the hoop and got fouled. He missed the free one, but UNM was up 27-22 which held up at the 3:45 break.
Martinez then hit a baseline trey, his first bucket of the game, and UNM had its biggest lead at 30-22. The Rams were still getting decent looks at the basket, but had gone cold. Hardeman pushed in a single free throw at 2:45 and UNM was up 31-22.
CSU called a timeout with 2:21 to go. Dennis scored on a layup: 33-22. CSU missed a layup and McDonald made the Rams pay with a trey. UNM was up 36-22. The Lobos had outscored CSU 16-to-1 since trailing CSU 21-20.
The Lobos got a lofty trey from McDonald to close the half and take a 38-24 lead into the locker room.
"They are a hard-nosed team," Martinez said of CSU. "I have a lot of respect for them. We executed our plays and I think that was a key to winning."