Lobos Host Cornell In Final Non-Conference Game
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/08/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 8, 2004

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The New Mexico Lobos close out the non-conference portion of their regular season schedule Friday by hosting the Cornell Big Red. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. UNM opens Mountain West Conference play Monday at Wyoming. The MWC home opener is Jan. 17 against Air Force.

New Mexico is 8-4 after ripping the University of San Diego 88-75 Tuesday. UNM's eighth win last year came in the 20th game of the season, Feb. 8 against Air Force. The ninth victory occurred against Colorado State on Feb. 17, the 22nd game of the season. The Lobos have won six of seven after a 2-3 start, the only loss at then No. 6 Wake Forest, 70-61.

New Mexico plays four of its next five games in The Pit - including three MWC games - where it has won six straight, the longest home winning streak since taking seven in a row from Dec. 1, 2001-Jan. 5, 2002.

Cornell is 5-6 following an 89-76 home win over Lehigh. The Lobos and Big Red do not share a common opponent this season. Cornell is 1-4 away from its home in Ithaca, N.Y. They open Ivy League play against Columbia on Jan. 17.

Friday's game marks the return of Albuquerque native Cody Toppert. A 2001 graduate of Albuquerque Academy, Toppert has started all 65 games in his career at Cornell. The 6-foot, 4-inch junior guard is averaging 17.4 points, including a 21-point average in his last six games. Toppert, who had a career-high 31 points and eight 3-pointers against Duquesne, leads the team with 39 treys and 41.9% accuracy from beyond the arc. He is half of the Big Red's formidable backcourt duo. Senior guard Ka'Ron Barnes is averaging 20.6 points, meaning Cornell receives 37 points a game from the pair.

Toppert's parents both played basketball at UNM. Bob (1972-75) was a member of the Lobos' 1974 Western Athletic Conference championship team. Mom, the former Linda Hattox, played at UNM from 1972-76.

Wyoming takes an 7-5 record into Thursday's home game against Middle Tennessee State. The Cowboys, 63-62 losers Tuesday at Denver U., were 21-11 last year, tying UNLV for third place in the MWC with an 8-6 mark. The Pokes fell to North Carolina in the second round of the postseason NIT.

UNM has been full strength the past six games - since Dec. 21 - when midseason transfers Troy DeVries (Portland State) and Danny Granger (Bradley) became eligible. The 6'8" Granger is averaging 19.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, including MVP honors in the Lobo Invitational when he had a season-high 26 points and a Mountain West Conference record eight steals against Penn State. Granger 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.

DeVries is averaging 14.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists, including 12 assists against Coppin State, the best total by a Lobo in 12 years. He is shooting 47% (21-45) from 3-point.

HISTORIC WIN - The Lobos' victory over USD Tuesday was the 1,200th in school history. Since the first game was played on Feb. 2, 1900, New Mexico is is 1,200-950 in its 101st season, a winning percentage of 56 percent. New Mexico is 782-455 since the 1962-63 season, an average of almost 19 wins a year. The Lobos have been to postseason play 26 times during that span.

UNM VS. CORNELL / IVY LEAGUE - It's the second meeting between the two institutions. The 20th-ranked Lobos won 88-75 in The Pit on Nov. 27, 1998 in the first round of the Lobo Classic. This is head coach Ritchie McKay's first game against an Ivy League school.

New Mexico is 12-0 against Ivy League competition, and every game has been played in Albuquerque. UNM has faced every school in the Ivy except Harvard.

LOBOS VS. WYOMING - Wyoming has a 58-48 lead in the series that started in December of 1950. UW has taken seven of the past eight overall and in MWC play, and six straight in Laramie. The Lobos' last win at the Arena-Auditorium was Feb. 18, 1995, a 62-61 decision on a buzzer-beating 3-point bank shot by David Gibson.

The Pokes swept the series last year, winning 103-91 in The Pit and 85-81 in overtime in Laramie. That's the most points the Cowboys have ever scored against UNM in Albuquerque. Wyoming has a 33-18 lead in Laramie, but a slim 11-9 margin at the Double-A.

UNM IN CONFERENCE OPENERS / MWC - The Lobos are opening the Mountain West Conference season on the road for the fourth time in five years the league has existed. UNM won its first three MWC openers - two of those on the road - but fell last year at Colorado State.

UNM has a 25-31 record in four years of MWC action, including a losing mark the past three seasons.

New Mexico did not win a conference road game last year (0-7), and has dropped 12 straight MWC road tilts since a 70-64 victory at Colorado State on Jan. 28, 2002.

UNM's MWC Openers Jan. 10, 2000 UNM 71, Colorado State 70 Fort Collins Jan. 8, 2001 UNM 75, San Diego State 67 San Diego Jan. 14, 2002 UNM 50, Air Force 47 Albuquerque Jan. 13, 2003 Colorado State 74, UNM 58 Fort Collins

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 101-111, 18-22 at New Mexico. McKay is 14-11 in non-conference games while at UNM, 14-6 at The Pit, 0-5 on the road.

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

SAN DIEGO RECAP / NOTES - Alfred Neale scored a career-high 24 points and had five of New Mexico's 15 3-pointers in an 88-75 win over San Diego Tuesday night. UNM scored the game's first 11 points and put the contest away with a 10-1 run in the second half after San Diego had cut the Lobos' lead to 63-50 with 10:20 left.

Transfers Danny Granger and Troy DeVries again scored in double figures for the Lobos. Granger scored 17 points and had 14 rebounds and a career-high four assists. DeVries had his fifth double-figure scoring game with a season-best 22 points, including six 3-pointers to tie a career-high.

* The Lobos have won six straight games in The Pit since Dec. 8 and are 8-2 at home this season

* New Mexico has not trailed during its six-game home winning streak since dropping a 67-58 game to Texas Tech on Dec. 6...UNM continued its trend of opening early leads during the home winning streak...the Lobos led 11-0, 25-9 and 44-25 at the half

* New Mexico shot over 50% for the fifth time this season, improving to 5-0 in those games...the Lobos only shot 50% or better four times in all of the 2002-03 season...UNM has outshot its opponents in all eight wins this season...UNM was just the fourth San Diego opponent to hit better than 50% of its field goals

* UNM attempted a season-high 35 3-point attempts, 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, tying for eighth on the single-game list

* DeVries had a season-high 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point...he also had 7 assists and no turnovers...DeVries is averaging 14.8 ppg on the season, but 18 ppg the past 3 games on 13-23 (56.5%) accuracy from beyond the arc

* After a season-low 4 points at Wake Forest, Alfred Neale scored a career-high 24 points, canning a career-best 5 treys...he also had a pair of blocks...Neale is shooting 55% (11-20) from 3-point the past 4 games

* UNM forward Danny Granger notched his third double-double of the season (17 points/14 rebounds), equaling David Chiotti for the team lead...Granger also had a team-best 4 steals and now has 12 in his last 2 home games...he contributed a career-best 4 assists as well

* Eight Lobos combined for a season-high 27 assists...four players had 4 or more assists, including a season-high 6 from guard Javin Tindall...New Mexico's starting backcourt of Tindall and DeVries combined for 13 assists and just 2 turnovers

HOT AT HOME; SIX AND COUNTING - The Lobos have won six straight home games by an average of 19.3 points and have not trailed for one second during the current streak. On Dec. 8, UNM and Sacramento State were tied at 47 with 9:39 left in the game, but the Lobos went on to win 77-63. The last time New Mexico was behind at home was Dec. 6 against Texas Tech. A 3-pointer gave the Red Raiders a 59-57 lead with 2:20 remaining, a game they won 67-58.

QUICK STARTS - During the six-game home winning streak, one trend has been the Lobos jumping on the opponent early. The total first-half differential in those six games is 104 points or an average halftime lead of 17.3 points. UNM has shot 50.3% (84-167) from the floor in the first half of those games compared to the opponents' 31.9% (53-166).

TALK ABOUT A DISADVANTAGE - The addition of Troy DeVries and Danny Granger against Coppin State gives New Mexico 10 players on scholarship, the most for a Ritchie McKay-coached Lobo team and the highest number since 11 were available for Fran Fraschilla during the 2001-02 season. Freshman Sean Phelar is also on scholarship, but he is expected to redshirt this season. The NCAA allows a maximum of 13 scholarships.

UNM took the floor against Coppin State on Dec. 21 with nine scholarship players, the first time it had more than eight available since Nov. 25, 2002 - a span of 34 games.

New Mexico started the 2002-03 campaign with nine players on scholarship. However, in the second game of the season, senior guard Senque Carey suffered a career-ending injury, leaving UNM with just eight players on aid. After Michael McCowan quit in late-February, the Lobos finished the season with just seven on scholarship.

Also, for the first time since McKay took over at UNM, the team is now starting a power forward who is taller than 6'5". The 6'8" Granger and 6'9" David Chiotti are the Lobos' starters in the post. Jamaal Williams (6'4") was the starter at that position last year, while Alfred Neale (6'5") started there five times this season.

NO SLIGHT TO DEVRIES AND GRANGER - Even though their averages and percentages warrant placement in the NCAA and Mountain West Conference rankings, you won't find Troy DeVries or Danny Granger's names listed among the leaders for awhile. The NCAA and MWC require individuals to participate in at least 75 percent of a team's games to be eligible for the rankings. Provided they don't miss any upcoming games, the Lobo 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 number of games played required for inclusion in the stats.

IT'S RAINING 3s - In case you missed it, the 3-point shot is definitely part of the Lobo arsenal this year. Through games of Jan. 6, New Mexico is averaging 9.67 treys a game to rank 1st in the MWC and among the nation's leaders. Javin Tindall is 1st in the MWC, averaging 2.92 3s a game, while Alfred Neale ranks 9th at 1.92 a game. More tidbits about the 3-ball proficiency:

> The school record for 3s in a season is 301 set in 32 games in 1997-98...at 9.67 a game, the current Lobos are on a 30-game pace for 290, which would rank No. 3 for a single season

> The single-season standard for 3-pt. FGs made per game is 9.67 as 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 39.2%

> UNM has made at least one 3-pointer in 408 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 have made 10 or more seven times this season...UNM has drained 15 or more in its last two home games...the 1993-94 team knocked in at least 15 four times

> New Mexico is averaging 10.3 treys and shooting 42% in 10 home games

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

> 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 made 16 versus Sacramento State on Dec. 19, 1998...the school record is 18 set against Holy Cross on Dec. 29, 1997

> 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

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT - The Lobo defense has made giant 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 12 games this season, the Lobos have yielded a stingy 61.6 ppg and only three teams have reached 70 points...Portland scored 77 in the third game of the year and Wake Forest got 70, a figure, however, that was 22 points below the Demon Deacons' nation-leading average entering the game...San Diego scored 75

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

* Opponents are shooting 39.5% from the floor, and the Lobos have already held six opponents to less than 40% accuracy this season...they did that only five times all of last season when foes converted 47.7% of their shots, the highest percentage since the 1984-85 season (48.1%)

* 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

SEASON TRENDS / NOTES - New Mexico is shooting 72.3% from the FT line as a team, tops in the MWC through games of Jan. 6...the accuracy is 75.4% (86-114) since Troy DeVries and Danny Granger became eligible...DeVries is shooting 80% (12-15) from the stripe, while Granger is a steamy 88.2% (30-34)

* UNM made its last 14 FTs in the 77-63 win over Sacramento State...the Lobos are shooting 87.9% (29-33) from the FT line in the last three minutes of games this season

* The Lobos are also leading the league in team assist average at 17.17 a game...that number is more than five assists better than last year's average of 12.11, which ranked last in the MWC...the primary reason for more assists is that UNM is shooting much better than a year ago, 46.7% this season compared to 42.3% last year...the Lobos' assist-to-basket ratio is 206-298 or 69%...the past 6 games it's 74.6% (206-298)...last year's was 51% (339-659)

* The Lobos have dropped 19 straight road games - 20 including neutral sites - the program's longest drought since a 37-game skid from Jan. 10, 1957 through Feb. 13, 1960...the Lobos' last road win was Jan. 28, 2002 at Colorado State (70-64)

* New Mexico is 8-2 when scoring 60 or more points this year, 0-2 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

* David Chiotti and Danny Granger have three double-doubles and the team has seven (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