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Lobos Start Two-Game Road Trip at Air Force
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/18/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 18, 2008

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  • Monday Press Conference Audio: Alford | Giddens
  • Giddens Named MWC co-Player of the Week
  • MWC Coaches' Teleconference Audio Archive

    The charging New Mexico Lobos (20-6, 7-4 MWC) face a demanding week, starting with a road game Wednesday at Air Force (13-11, 5-6 MWC). Tipoff is 7 p.m. Mountain Time from Clune Arena at the United States Air Force Academy. UNM visits Utah Saturday at noon before returning home to face conference leader BYU on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

    There is no television for Wednesday's Air Force game. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.

    It's a daunting road swing for New Mexico, to say the least. The Lobos have lost 7 in a row at the Academy and 18 straight to Utah in Salt Lake City. Since the start of the 2003-04 season, Air Force is 66-5 overall and 33-4 in MWC games at Clune Arena.

    LOBO BRIEFING
    After a deceptively tough 64-48 victory against TCU last Saturday, the Lobos are all alone in third place in the Mountain West Conference at 7-4. Picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, New Mexico seeks to win five straight conference games for the first time since a 6-game streak from Feb. 14-March 5, 2005.

    Playing very much the part of a league MVP, senior J.R. Giddens again led UNM at both ends of the floor with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 2 steals in the win over TCU.

    Air Force is in 6th place in the league following a 72-66 victory over Wyoming on Saturday, which snapped a three-game losing streak. The Falcons recorded season-highs against an MWC opponent with 16 assists, 9 steals and 50% shooting (8-16) from 3-point.

    On Jan. 19 in The Pit, J.R. Giddens scored 15 points and had 12 rebounds and UNM took advantage of Air Force's worst shooting of the season to beat the Falcons, 59-44. AFA shot just 27.5% (11 of 40).

    In last year's 65-57 loss at the Academy, UNM led 37-16 late in the first half only to have Air Force go on a 40-7 run for a 56-44 lead with 4:39. It was 39-24 at halftime and 41-24 in New Mexico's favor early in the second half. The Falcons then scored 21 straight points to take a 45-41 advantage with 9:11 remaining. UNM went more than 10 minutes without scoring.

    LOBO BULLETS

  • In the most recent Jeff Sagarin ratings through games of Friday, Feb. 15, New Mexico is ranked No. 45, second-highest in the Mountain West...BYU is 1st among MWC schools at No. 34...UNLV is one spot behind the Lobos at No. 46...in collegerpi.com through games of Sunday, Feb. 17, the Lobos are No. 54...BYU is No. 29, UNLV No. 33

  • Through games of Sunday, Feb. 17, New Mexico was 2nd in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 42.829%...IUPUI is a fraction better than UNM at 42.857%

  • New Mexico's last win at Air Force was 81-67 on Feb. 12, 2000...UNM has lost the past 7 to the Falcons at Clune Arena

  • 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

  • The most wins by a Lobo head coach in his rookie season is 22 by Dave Bliss in 1988-89...UNM went 22-11 that year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT

  • It took New Mexico only 20 games to surpass last year's victory total (15-17)...UNM has also eclipsed last year's win total for conference games (4-10)

  • After going 3-19 in true road games the past two seasons and being 8-43 in five years from 2003-07, UNM is a solid 5-5 this year...the Lobos actually won three in a row (at Hawai'i, UTEP, Wyoming) for the first time since 2000-01 (at New Mexico State, Gonzaga and San Diego State)

  • 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 (+12.7), 3-point FGs (8.5 pg) and 3-point percentage (42.8%)...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 18-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 70 points and 18-2 when leading at halftime

  • The Lobos have won 18 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 10-6 when they don't...the tandem combined for 95 points in wins last week against Colorado State and Wyoming...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 21 games, the most by a UNM freshman point guard since John Robinson II started 30 in 1998-99...with 88 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 38, second-most ever by a UNM freshman...Phil Smith had 47 in 1980-81

  • Looking ahead to Saturday's game at Utah, here's how Lobo head coaches have fared against the Utes in Salt Lake City since the first visit 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 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 less than 32 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 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

    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 328-189 (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 2-0 in his career against Air Force, 1-0 while he was at Iowa, a 73-63 win at Iowa City on Dec. 28, 2004.

    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-AIR FORCE SERIES
    It's the 61st meeting and UNM has a 42-18 advantage, although Air Force has won 7 of the past 10. It's 9-8 Falcons in MWC games. UNM has lost 7 straight to Air Force at the Academy.

    UNM-AIR FORCE JAN. 19 IN ALBUQUERQUE
    J.R. Giddens scored 15 points and had 12 rebounds and New Mexico took advantage of Air Force's worst shooting of the season to beat the Falcons, 59-44. Giddens got his fourth double-double in the last six games. Air Force never got its offense untracked and hit just 11 of 40 shots (27.5 percent).

    Anwar Johnson was the only AFA player in double figures with 10 points, including 8-for-11 at the free throw line. Tim Anderson, the Falcons' leading scorer averaging 15 points a game, was held to five points.

    The game's first five minutes were more reminiscent of a soccer match than a basketball game. Neither team scored through the first 4 1/2 minutes, before Giddens finally snapped the zeros-are-wild start with a layup off a steal with 14:42 left in the opening half. Before Giddens' scoop layup found the range, the teams had combined to miss 11 field goals and four free throws.

    Air Force hit just 1 of its first 15 shots, a 3-pointer by reserve guard Andrew Henke at the 14:10 mark. Remarkably, that gave the Falcons their only lead as New Mexico was matching the Falcons miss-for-miss early on. At one point the two teams were a combined 4 of 26.

    Air Force went nearly seven more minutes before getting its second field goal, a layup by Keith Maren with 7:18 left in the first half. By then, New Mexico's offense had started to find some flow and back-to-back 3-pointers by Darren Prentice and Chad Toppert gave the Lobos a 16-6 lead. Roman Martinez scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half and Prentice closed out the half with back-to-back drives to the basket for a 32-17 Lobos lead.

  • The 15-point victory margin is New Mexico's largest over Air Force since an 89-72 decision at the Academy on Jan. 22, 2000

  • The score was 0-0 until the 14:42 mark on a steal and layin by Giddens...it came on the Lobos' 9th possession of the game

  • Air Force's first points came at the 14:10 mark on a 3-pointer by Andrew Henke...the Falcons missed their first 5 shots, got the 3-pointer from Henke, then missed their next 9 to start 1 of 15 from the floor

  • Air Force shot a season-low 27.5% (11-40), including 5 of 20 in the 1st half

  • Air Force was 6 of 23 (26.1%) from 3-point...it came into the game averaging 8.13 treys and shooting 39.6% from beyond the arc

  • New Mexico started 3 of 13 from the field, but converted 9 of its last 13 attempts to end the 1st half to open up a 32-17 advantage at the break

  • UNM held the Falcons' Tim Anderson to 5 points on 1 of 7 shooting, and his first points did not come until there was 4:37 left...Anderson came into the game leading the team in scoring at 15.1 ppg

  • The Lobos committed 3 turnovers in their first 5 possessions of the game, then 0 the rest of the half...their 4th miscue didn't occur until the 15:20 mark of the 2nd half...UNM finished the game with 9

    Sophomore Roman Martinez

  • scored 13 points (10 in the 1st half), a career-best in MWC play

    UNM-AIR FORCE: LAST YEAR AT THE ACADEMY
    The 18th-ranked Falcons were down by 15 points at halftime to New Mexico, and their 11-game winning streak didn't seem to have a chance of continuing, but Air Force opened the second half on a 21-2 run and went on to a 65-57 victory. Dan Nwaelele scored 22 points and Matt McCraw had a career-high 21 points for the Falcons, who trailed as many as 21 points in the first half.

    New Mexico was 16-for-23 from the field in the first half, while Air Force managed only six field goals in 14 attempts. The big run gave the Falcons the lead for good at 45-41.

    Darren Prentice had 18 points for the Lobos, while Tony Danridge added 15. Air Force made 21-of-23 FTs, the Lobos 3-of-9.

  • Air Force outscored UNM 41-18 in the 2nd half, including a 28-1 burst...the Lobos scored just 5 points in the first 15-plus minutes after halftime

  • After shooting 70% (16-23) from the floor in the 1st half and making their first attempt in the 2nd period, the Lobos proceeded to miss 11 in a row...UNM was 7 of 22 from the floor in the 2nd half and that included making 3 of their last 4 to end the game

    TCU RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
    J.R. Giddens scored 25 points and Jonathan Wills had six during a 19-0 run to open the second half as New Mexico beat TCU 64-48.

    The Lobos held the Horned Frogs scoreless for the first 6:27 of the second half to notch their fourth consecutive conference victory and improve their homecourt record this season to 15-1. Henry Salter had 13 points for TCU, which has now lost six of its last seven games and is winless in the last six trips to Albuquerque.

    Wills hit a 3-pointer and three free throws as New Mexico took a 45-23 lead after its early second-half run. The Horned Frogs used an 11-0 spurt to close within 47-38 midway through the second half but got no closer.

    In the teams' first meeting Jan. 15 at Fort Worth, TCU rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to win 74-72 on a last-second 3-pointer.

  • The Lobos opened the 2nd half on a 19-0 run to extend a 26-23 halftime lead to 45-23...TCU's first points of the 2nd half came at the 13:33 mark

  • New Mexico is 6-0 all-time against TCU in The Pit

  • New Mexico made its second FG of the game at the 18:43 mark of the 1st half...the next FG did not come until the 11:14 mark on a layin by J.R. Giddens, a span of 7:29 without a FG

  • UNM's 3-point averages coming into the game: 8.64 made and 20 attempts; the Lobos were 5 of 14 vs. TCU, or 35.7%...the Lobos came into the game 1st in the nation in 3-point shooting at 43.0%, and that percentage is now 42.8%

  • Rebounds in the 1st half were 18-11 in TCU's favor, including 6-3 on the offensive end...the Lobos' leading rebounder in the 1st half was J.R. Giddens with 2...UNM had a 20-16 edge in the 2nd half, 7-3 on the offensive end

  • The Lobos held TCU leading scorer Kevin Langford to just 4 points on 0 of 6 shooting from the floor...he came into the game averaging 14.1 points

  • UNM forced 23 turnovers, tying for the most by an opponent this season...Wyoming also had 23 in The Pit...the Lobos have caused 66 turnovers the past 3 games

  • UNM is 15-1 at home this year, winning by an average margin of 21.9 points

  • In the 4-game winning streak, UNM has allowed just 54.3 points a game, while holding opponents to 38% shooting from the floor and 30% from 3-point

  • New Mexico committed 8 turnovers in the 1st half, but only 4 in the 2nd...the first turnover of the 2nd half did not occur until the 7:22 mark

    Senior J.R. Giddens

  • 25 points and 8 rebounds, plus 3 assists, 1 block and 2 steals
  • stats for the past 3 games: 83 points on 32-50 FGs, 6-11 3s, plus 30 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals and 6 blocks
  • scored 102 points the past 4 games, or 25.5 ppg

    Freshman Jonathan Wills

  • scored 9 points, including 6 of the Lobos' first 14 to start the second half
  • the Lobos are 10-0 when he starts

    Senior Jamaal Smith

  • came off the bench to score 10 points, the 3rd straight game he has hit double figures
  • 36 points the past 3 games on 10-17 FGs, 5-7 on 3s and 11-12 FTs

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • 0 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in the 1st half, but 3 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in the 2nd half
  • has made a 3-pointer in 19 straight games
  • season accuracy is now 49% (70-143) in all games and 51.6% (33-64) in MWC action
  • career accuracy from 3-point is 45.8% (169-369), 1st all-time at UNM...Troy DeVries is 2nd at 44.95%
  • has 169 3-pointers in his career, 8th place all-time at UNM
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