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STEVENS: Lobos Roll Nicholls State 83-59; Meet La. Tech Saturday
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/20/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 20, 2009

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What/Where: World Vision Classic -- The Pit
Friday: Lobos 83, Nicholls State 59
Saturday: 6 p.m., Miami-Ohio vs. Nicholls State; 8:34 p.m., Lobos vs. La. Tech
Sunday: 2 p.m., Nicholls State vs. La. Tech; 6:04 p.m., Lobos vs. Miami-Ohio
On The Air: My50-TV; 770-AM KKOB
Online: GameTracker, game story on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The unofficial championship of the World Vision Classic hits The Pit floor at 8:34 p.m. Saturday when the undefeated Lobos try to muscle up with the undefeated Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

The two teams powered their way to victory Friday with the Lobos rolling Nicholls State 83-59 behind 18 points from Phillip McDonald and Tech pounded Miami (Ohio) 74-62 behind 27 points from senior Kyle Gibson.

The Bulldogs never trailed against Miami while the Lobos had to shake off an early 11-9 deficit before beating down the Colonels with a combination of pressure defense and solid transition offense.

"I thought it was a really good defensive effort," said Lobo coach Steve Alford. "This is a team that runs a continuity offense and runs it very well. It wasn't a game where we shot the ball particularly well, but defensively it might have been our best effort."

The 3-0 Lobos took a 37-25 lead into the half and powered away from Nicholls State in the second half. Freshman Chad Adams pushed the Lobos up by 28 points making free throws to hand UNM a 78-50 bulge.

McDonald was joined in double figures by Darington Hobson with 14, Dairese Gary with 13 (8-10 at the line), and Roman Martinez with 10 points and 8 rebounds. A.J. Hardeman pulled down 8 boards. Gary also had four assists and two steals. UNM shot 43.6 percent from the floor and had 26 points off the bench.

"We are a very good shooting team, but there are going to be nights where we don't (shoot well)," said Alford. "We had a lot of guys shoot under 50 percent tonight and yet we hold a team to 39 percent shooting, hold them under 60 points.

"It is a draining week. We came off a very emotional road win (at NMSU)."

The Tech Bulldogs led by as many as 18 points in raising their season mark to 2-0. Sophomore Olu Ashaolu had his second double-double of the young season with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Senior Jamel Guyton went 5-of-9 from the 3-point line, a career high that gave him 15 points.

The Lobos used several small runs to steadily pull away from the Colonels, who used 10 points from Anatoly Bose to hang around. He was the only Colonel in double figures. Nicholls State shot 39.1 percent from the floor and had 17 turnovers to 8 for the Lobos.

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Martinez hit a running 3-pointer to push UNM up 43-27 early in the second half. Gary then went all the way off a Colonel miss and rolled in a layup for a 45-27 Lobo lead.

The Colonels cut UNM's lead to 12 points at 47-35, but the Lobos drifted away again. Hobson drove the middle, powered in a layup and was fouled. He completed the 3-point play to put UNM up 54-36.

Freshman Jamal Fenton ran the lane and flipped in a left-handed shot for a 56-38 lead going into a break and UNM ran away for the 83-59 win.

First Half -- Lobos 37, Nicholls State 25

Nicholls State hung around early and even led the Lobos 11-9 on a 3 pointer to grab an 11-9 lead. McDonald then banged in his second trey of the game to push UNM up 12-11 and start a 12-0 UNM run. Martinez flung in a short baseline jumper to make it 14-11.

Freshman Jamal Fenton was a spark in this Lobo run. He turned a Nicholls State turnover into a layup and a foul to put the Lobos up 17-11. He then floated a lob to Will Brown streaking down the right side. The big Lobo threw down the dunk to push UNM up 19-11. Freshman Curtis Dennis scored on a drive to complete the 12-0 run and hand UNM a 21-11 lead.

The Lobos had plenty of open looks on treys during the first half and were hot and cold from that mark. McDonald had a hot moment on a bomb from the left wing to give UNM a 29-15 lead. The smooth Lobo sophomore then banged down two free shots at 4:52 to pad UNM's lead to 31-15. The Lobos' lead of 16 points was more than Nicholls State's total. UNM took that 31-15 lead into the final media break of the first half.

The Lobos' offense was running smoothly at this point, but their defense probably was even better. Nicholls State got few good looks at the basket and forced up a number of shots late into the shot clock. The Lobos kicked up their lead to 33-15 when Brown got the ball inside and flung in an awkward-looking fall-away jumper.

The Lobos got a little sloppy down the stretch and Nicholls cut the Lobos' lead to 35-25. Gary hit two free throws to form the final 37-25 lead. UNM dominated the boards 21-to-14 in the first half.

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