Lobos Travel to Utah
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/21/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 21, 2008

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The New Mexico Lobos' basketball train (21-6, 8-4 MWC) rolls into Salt Lake City Saturday for a key contest against the Utah Utes (15-9, 6-5 MWC). Tipoff is 12:05 p.m. Mountain Time from the Huntsman Center. UNM returns home to face conference leader BYU next Tuesday.

Saturday's game will be televised live on The Mtn., with Rich Cellini and Blaine Fowler courtside. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.

The Lobos have lost 18 straight to Utah in Salt Lake City. The last UNM win was 989 weeks ago (19 years and one week) on Feb. 16, 1989, by a 79-76 count.

The last three games between New Mexico and Utah have required overtime. Most recently, UNM won 77-67 in The Pit last month. Last year in Salt Lake City, Utah prevailed 93-91 in two overtimes while the Lobos took an 86-82 thriller in an extra period in Albuquerque.

Outscoring Air Force 33-16 after halftime, New Mexico pulled away for a 68-51 at the Academy on Wednesday. It was 35-all at halftime. The victory snapped a 7-game losing streak to the Falcons at Clune Arena. The Lobos remain in third place in the Mountain West Conference at 8-4, one-half game behind UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels are at Wyoming Saturday. Picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, New Mexico seeks to win six straight conference games for the first time since a 6-game streak from Feb. 14-March 5, 2005. Winners of their last two MWC road games, the Lobos have won three straight just one time: at San Diego State, Air Force and BYU in 2000.

Utah is in 5th place in the league after a 67-59 loss at league-leader BYU on Wednesday. Johnnie Bryant, who has yet to start a game but leads the team in scoring at 14.4 a game, led the Utes with 15 points. Lawrence Borha added 12 points and 7 rebounds with Luke Nevill chipping in with 11. Utah shot just 37.3% overall and 30% (6-20) from 3-point, but held the Cougars to 40% (19-48) accuracy. BYU did convert 7 of 15 shots from beyond the arc.


  • In the most recent Jeff Sagarin ratings through games of Wednesday, Feb. 20, New Mexico is ranked No. 41, second-highest in the Mountain West...BYU is 1st at No. 31...UNLV is at No. 49...in collegerpi.com through games of Sunday, Feb. 17, the Lobos are No. 54...BYU is No. 29, UNLV No. 33

  • Through games of Wednesday, Feb. 20, New Mexico was 1st in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 43.36%...IUPUI is a fraction behind at 42.86%

  • Steve Alford is one win from tying Dave Bliss for most victories by a Lobo head coach in his rookie season...Bliss had 22 in 1988-89...UNM went 22-11 that year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT

  • Here's how Lobo head coaches have fared against Utah since the first visit to Salt Lake City in 1952:
    Berl Huffman - 0-1
    Woody Clements - 1-2; won 65-60 in 1954
    Bill Stockton - 0-3
    Bob Sweeney - 0-4
    Bob King - 1-9; lost first 9, then won 80-69 in 1972
    Norm Ellenberger - 1-6; won 73-70 in 1st game in 1973 then lost last 6
    Charlie Harrison - 0-1
    Gary Colson - 1-7; won 45-44 in OT in 1984
    Dave Bliss - 1-10; won 79-76 in 1st game in 1989 then lost last 10
    Fran Fraschilla - 0-3
    Ritchie McKay - 0-5
    Total - 5-51

  • The Lobos have won 20 games in a season for the 21st time...all of them have occurred since the 1963-64 season...Steve Alford has his 9th 20-win campaign in 16 full seasons as a head coach

  • It took New Mexico only 20 games to surpass last year's victory total (15-17)...UNM has also doubled last year's win total for conference games (4-12)

  • UNM has won 5 games in a row in dominating fashion, at least statistically...the Lobos have won by an average margin of 25.6 points, and committed almost half as many turnovers, 50 to 98

  • After going 3-19 in true road games the past two seasons and being 8-43 in five years from 2003-07, UNM is 6-5 this year...that's the most true road wins in 12 years, since the 1995-96 Lobos went 8-3

  • New Mexico is 15-1 at home this year, winning by an average margin of 21.9 points...the lone blemish was a 72-67 loss to San Diego State, a game the Lobos led 24-10 in the first half and 33-25 at halftime

  • The Lobos lead the MWC in scoring margin (+12.9), 3-point FGs (8.59 pg) and 3-point percentage (43.4%)...UNM's 3-point shooting would be the 2nd-best in school history were it to hold up for the entire season

  • New Mexico is 19-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 70 points and 18-2 when leading at halftime

  • The Lobos have won 19 straight games when holding opponents to less than 60 points

  • New Mexico is 10-0 when J.R. Giddens and junior Chad Toppert - the team's leading scorers - each reach double figures in scoring, but 11-6 when they don't...in the two road losses at BYU and UNLV, they were held to a combined 29 points

  • Dairese Gary is establishing himself as one of the top freshman point guards in school history...he has started 22 games, the most by a UNM freshman point guard since John Robinson II started 30 in 1998-99...with 93 assists, Gary is on track to become just the 5th Lobo freshman to record 100 in a season, joining Phil Smith (176 in 1980-81), David Gibson (113 in 1994-95), Robinson II (162 in 1998-99) and Marlon Parmer (115 in 1999-2000)...Gary also leads UNM in steals with 41, second-most ever by a UNM freshman...Phil Smith had 47 in 1980-81

  • The Lobos currently have two freshmen in the starting lineup in Dairese Gary and Jonathan Wills...Gary has started 22 games, Wills 11...the last time UNM freshmen had that many starts was in 2002-03 when David Chiotti (20), Jeff Hart (5), Mikal Monette (2) and Mark Walters (20) got the nod 47 times

    HEAD COACH Steve Alford
    Steve Alford was named UNM's 19th head coach on March 23, 2007, after spending eight seasons at the University of Iowa.

    Alford is 329-189 (63%) into his 17th season. His teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, produced 13 winning seasons and reached 20 wins on nine occasions.

    Alford is 1-0 in his career against Utah.

    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.

    THE SKINNY ON J.R. Giddens
    Simpy stated, senior J.R. Giddens has been gettig it done on both ends of the floor the past few weeks.

  • Despite ranking only 10th in the league in minutes played at 31.1 minutes a game, Giddens is the only player in the MWC who ranks in the top-10 in the MWC in scoring, rebounding, FG pct., assists, steals and blocks

  • Giddens has been named co-MWC Player of the Week each of the past 2 weeks, Feb. 10 and Feb. 17...last week, he scored 47 points as the Lobos ran their winning streak to four games with a 73-63 road victory at San Diego State and a 64-48 triumph against TCU...Giddens converted 17 of 26 (65%) field goals, 4 of 5 attempts from 3-point and added 19 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks and 4 steals...his averages for the week were 23.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 steals...at San Diego on his 23rd birthday, Giddens went for 22 points and 11 rebounds for his 2nd straight double-double...he was 7 of 8 from the floor, including a season-high 3 treys in 3 attempts...Giddens added 4 assists, 2 steals and a career-high 4 blocks.

  • Giddens was named co-MWC Player of the Week Feb. 10 for his performances against Colorado State and Wyoming...he converted 24 of 35 field goals, 3 of 7 attempts from 3-point and 4 of 5 free throws, and added 18 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks and 8 steals in just 60 minutes of action. Giddens' averages for the week were 27.5 points, 9 rebounds, 4. 0 steals and 3.5 assists...against Wyoming, Giddens scored a career-high 36 points and added 11 rebounds...he also had 3 assists, 1 block and a career-high 6 steals against the Cowboys...Giddens' outburst is the most points by a Lobo since Ruben Douglas scored 39 in a 76-69 win over No. 22 Utah on March 1, 2003...it's also the most by an individual in a conference game this season

  • How much better is Giddens' overall game? It only took him 23 games to set personal season-highs for rebounds, assists, blocks and steals

  • At UTEP on Jan. 2, Giddens fell 1 rebound short from becoming the first Lobo in 31 seasons to notch 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game...Jimmy Allen had 21 points and 20 boards in a 112-103 loss at New Mexico State on Dec. 1, 1976...Giddens scored 20 points and set career-highs with 19 rebounds and 7 assists in the overtime victory over the Miners...the 19 rebounds are the most in the MWC this season

    It's game No. 121 in a series that started Jan. 3, 1952. The Utes have a 76-44 lead, although it's 7-4 in the Lobos' favor the past 11 games. New Mexico has won the last 6 in The Pit, including 77-67 in overtime on Jan. 22. Utah has a staggering 51-5 lead in games played in Salt Lake City and it has won 18 straight over UNM at the Huntsman Center, including 93-91 in double overtime last year. UNM last won in Salt Lake on Feb. 16, 1989 by a 79-76 count.

    Daniel Faris scored 15 points and J.R. Giddens and Chad Toppert both had 14 to lead New Mexico to a 77-67 overtime victory against Utah.

    Jamaal Smith had five points and Giddens and Dairese Gary both added four in the overtime for the Lobos, who beat the Utes for the sixth straight time at The Pit. Giddens and Smith both missed potential game-winning shots in the final 15 seconds of regulation and Tyler Kepkay missed one for Utah. The Lobos had nine free throws as they outscored Utah 17-7 in the overtime.

    New Mexico held Utah center Luke Nevill, who came into the game averaging a team-high 13.6 points, without a shot in taking a 31-21 halftime lead.

    The New Mexico bench was called for a technical foul with 12:04 left. It erased a 3-pointer by Roman Martinez and helped spark an 18-1 run that put Utah up 53-45. The Lobos responded with a 13-3 run, regaining the lead on two free throws by Martinez with 3:15 left.

  • New Mexico has won 6 straight against Utah in The Pit, the longest streak since 9 in a row from 1967-75

  • The Lobos outscored Utah 13-3 in the final 3:20 of overtime

  • UNM made its last 9 free throws and 13 of its final 15

  • The Lobos held Utah to its lowest scoring half of the season (21 in the 1st half)

  • Utah center Luke Nevill finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out with 4:40 left in OT...his first points came at the 8:45 mark of the 1st half on 2 free throws, but his first basket did not come until the 17:27 mark of the 2nd half...Nevill averages 10.5 shots a game, but was 4 of 6 tonight...he did not attempt a FG in 17 first-half minutes...he was 5 of 10 from the FT line

  • There was a 21-point swing in the game...the Lobos led 31-19 in the 1st half, but then trailed 53-45 after an 18-1 Utah run...it was 56-47 in the Utes' favor before New Mexico went on an 11-0 burst to take a 58-56 advantage...Utah was held scoreless for a span of 6:24

  • UNM out-rebounded Utah 36-33, including 12-6 on the offensive glass

  • The Lobos had a 30-20 scoring edge in the paint, 23-13 off turnovers and 16-8 on second chances

  • Despite playing an extra 5 minutes, New Mexico committed just 7 turnovers

    Junior Daniel Faris

  • scored 15 points, his best career output in an MWC game...also had 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 1 steal and 0 turnovers in 34 minutes
  • attempted a career-high 16 shots, more than twice his per-game average of 7
  • had 4 points and 3 rebounds in the first 4 minutes

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • 14 points on 4-8 shots from 3-point...also 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 0 turnovers
  • has made 13-23 3-pointers in his last 3 games against Utah

    Senior Jamaal Smith

  • 12 points (5-5 FTs), 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 19 minutes off the bench
  • 5 points and 3 rebounds in the last 48 seconds of overtime

    Sophomore Roman Martinez

  • 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers in a career-high 39 minutes Freshman Dairese Gary
  • 10 points on 2-4 FGs and 6-6 FTs, plus 2 assists and 0 turnovers
  • tied a career-high with 4 steals

    After missing two free throws in the first overtime, Luke Nevill made a pair with 2.4 seconds left in the second overtime to lift Utah to a 93-91 victory. Johnnie Bryant scored 23 points for Utah, including 13 in a row in the second half, and Shaun Green had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

    The Lobos nearly won in the first overtime after Nevill missed two free throws with 33.7 seconds left, but Darren Prentice didn't make a long 3-pointer in the final seconds. Prentice made a game-tying jumper in the final minute of the first overtime as part of his career-high 28 points.

    New Mexico made 17 of 27 3-pointers, with Chad Toppert hitting six of them on his way to 20 points. Utah made 13 of 16 free throws in the two overtimes.

  • Darren Prentice scored a career-high 28 points on 9-14 FGs, including 5 3-pointers

  • Chad Toppert was 6 of 9 from 3-point, tying a career-best for 3s made

    J.R. Giddens scored 14 points to lead New Mexico to a 68-51 win over Air Force on Wednesday.

    With the scored tied 35-35 at the intermission, the Lobos began pulling away early in the second half. Roman Martinez opened the scoring with a three-pointer, and Giddens and Daniel Faris began scoring from beneath the basket. The Lobos opened a 15-point margin with some five minutes to play, and coasted home for the win. Faris was in double figures for the Lobos with 11.

    New Mexico completes a season series sweep of the Falcons, having defeated Air Force 59-44 in Albuquerque on Jan. 19.

    The teams battled on even terms early, until the Lobos opened a 14-point bulge midway through the first half behind the three-point shooting of Chad Toppert, who canned three shots from beyond the arc, and Jamaal Smith who added another three-pointer. Not to be outdone, Air Force answered with a long-range basket by Andrew Henke and a pair of three-pointers from Eric Kenzik, to narrow the margin to 27-22, and eventually tied the game at 29-29. Three-pointers by Dairese Gary and Darren Prentice gave the Lobos the lead, but Henke tied the game with a three-pointer shortly before the halftime buzzer

  • The Lobos have won 5 straight conference games for the first time since a 6-game streak from Feb. 14-March 5, 2005

  • Tied 35-35 at halftime, New Mexico outscored Air Force 33-16 in the 2nd half...last year, Air Force outscored UNM 41-18 in the second half at the Academy

  • The last time New Mexico held a conference opponent to 16 points in the 2nd half was Feb. 19, 2001...UNM outscored UNLV 43-16 in a 75-56 win in The Pit

  • In the 2nd half, Air Force was 6 of 18 (33%) from the floor and 0 of 9 from 3-point

  • The Lobos snapped a 7-game losing streak to Air Force at the Academy, the last win coming Feb. 12, 2000

  • Coming into the game, Air Force was 66-5 at Clune Arena since the 2003-04 season

  • The Lobos were 11 of 19 from 3-point range, or 58%..every Lobo scored and 7 different players hit a 3-pointer

  • New Mexico had 19 assists on 24 made baskets

  • The Lobos had 10 turnovers, the 12th time this year with 10 or less in a game, and the 7th time in an MWC game

  • The Lobos opened the game on fire, making 9 of their first 10 shots, including all 6 of their 3-point tries...UNM finished the game at 56% (24-43)

  • Air Force's leading scorer Tim Anderson was held to 7 points...he came in averaging 14.8 points...Anderson had just 5 points against UNM in The Pit last month

  • New Mexico is 19-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 70 points and 18-2 when leading at halftime

  • The Lobos have won 19 straight games when holding opponents to less than 60 points

  • In the 5-game winning streak, UNM has allowed just 53.6 points a game, while holding opponents to 38.8% shooting from the floor and 31% from 3-point

    Senior J.R. Giddens

  • 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in just 25 minutes of action
  • limited to 5 points and 1 assist in 5 minutes in the 1st half after picking up 2 quick fouls
  • played the entire 2nd half and had 9 points, all 7 of his rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals

    Senior Jamaal Smith

  • had 5 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers off the bench

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • 9 points on 3-7 from 3-point; hit his first 3 and missed his last 4
  • 172 3-pointers in his career, passing Marlow White for 7th place all-time at UNM
  • made a 3-pointer in 20 straight games, tying Rob Robbins (1989) and Kevin Henry (1999-2000) for the 6th-longest streak in school history
  • season accuracy is 48.7% (73-150) in all games and 50.7% (36-71) in MWC
  • career accuracy from 3-point is 45.7% (172-376), 1st all-time at UNM...Troy DeVries is 2nd at 44.95%

    Freshman Jonathan Wills

  • Lobos are 11-0 when he starts
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