Lobos Open MWC Season at Wyoming
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/10/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

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Jan. 10, 2004

The New Mexico Lobos open their fifth season of Mountain West Conference play Monday, visiting the Wyoming Cowboys Monday. Tipoff is 7:06 p.m. Mountain Time from the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie. SportsWest will televise the game live with local distribution by KRQE.

New Mexico is 9-4 after getting past Cornell 74-65 Friday. The Lobos have won seven of eight after a 2-3 start, including seven in a row at home. UNM's ninth win last year came in the 22nd game of the season, Feb. 17 against Colorado State in The Pit.

A victory at Wyoming would equal New Mexico's win total from last year (10-18) and also put an end to a few unpleasant streaks: 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 to Feb. 13, 1960. New Mexico's last road win was Jan. 28, 2002 at Colorado State (70-64). UNM has also lost six straight at Laramie, the last victory coming in 1995. The Lobos are 0-2 away from The Pit this year with losses at New Mexico State and Wake Forest.

Wyoming is 7-6 after falling 76-63 Thursday at Middle Tennessee State. The Cowboys have lost two straight and three of four. UW was 21-11 last year, tying UNLV for third place in the MWC with an 8-6 mark. The Pokes lost to North Carolina in the second round of the postseason NIT.

After Wyoming, New Mexico has a three-game homestand against Air Force, Utah and BYU. UNM has won seven straight at The Pit, the longest home winning streak since taking seven in a row from Dec. 1, 2001-Jan. 5, 2002. The last time for eight consecutive home victories was Nov. 13-Dec. 30, 2001.

UNM has been full strength the past seven games - since Dec. 21 - when midseason transfers Troy DeVries (Portland State) and Danny Granger (Bradley) became eligible. The 6'8" Granger is averaging 20.1 points and 10.6 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. He 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. Granger is attempting to become the first Lobo since Kenny Thomas in 1997-98 to record four straight double-doubles. Thomas did so the first five games that season.

DeVries is averaging 14.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists, including 12 assists against Coppin State, the best total by a Lobo in 12 years. He is shooting 46% (23-50) from 3-point.

HISTORIC WIN - The Lobos' victory over San Diego last Tuesday was the 1,200th in school history. Since the first game was played on Feb. 2, 1900, New Mexico is is 1,201-950 in its 101st season, a winning percentage of 56 percent. New Mexico is 783-455 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.

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 ROAD GAMES - The Lobos are opening the Mountain West Conference season on the road for the fourth time in the 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.

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 102-111, 19-22 at New Mexico. McKay is 4-10 in conference games while at UNM, 4-3 at The Pit, 0-7 on the road. He is 4-4 in his career against Wyoming, 2-1 in Laramie.

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

CORNELL RECAP / NOTES - Danny Granger had his third straight double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds and New Mexico pulled away late in the second half for a 74-65 win over Cornell. The Lobos never trailed but didn't shake the visitors until converting three Big Red turnovers into seven straight points that provided a 66-51 bulge with just over a minute left.

Granger hit a shot in the lane, Javin Tindall sank a 3-pointer and Alfred Neale had a slam dunk off Cornell's turnovers.

Forward David Chiotti scored 17 points and along with Granger was able to score inside after two of Cornell's big men, 6-foot-8 Stevan Marcetic and 6-6 Lenny Collins, fouled out within a six-second span midway through the second half. Chiotti added a career-best five assists.

Granger hit 7 of 10 shots and added 4 assists to offset his six turnovers. The Lobos helped the Big Red stay in the game by committing 19 turnovers.

* With the victory, New Mexico moves to 9-4 on the season, including 9-2 at home...UNM improved to 13-0 all-time against Ivy League opponents

* Unlike the previous six homes games, New Mexico was unable to shake Cornell in the first 20 minutes, never gaining a double-digit lead on the Big Red...the two teams combined to shoot 39.6% (21-53) and had 18 turnovers in the first half... UNM led by just five points at the break after leading by an average of 17.3 points in its previous six home games...New Mexico hit 10-25 (40%) from the floor in the first period after shooting 50.3% (84-167) in the first half of the prior six home games.

* UNM's 32 first-half points tied for the fewest in 10 home games this season...the Lobos took a 32-29 lead into the break against Texas Tech on Dec. 6...UNM endured a scoring drought of 4:14 and went 6:08 without a field goal, yet allowed only two Cornell baskets in that span...New Mexico has led at half in all 11 home games this season

* The Lobos overcame their rocky start by shooting 60.9% from the floor in the second half to hit 50% (24-48) for the game...UNM is 6-0 on the year when shooting 50% or better...UNM only shot 50% or better four times in all of the 2002-03 season...UNM has outshot its opponents in all nine wins this season

* New Mexico still has not trailed at any point during its 7-game home winning streak since dropping a 67-58 game to Texas Tech on Dec. 6...Cornell was down just three as late as the 17:43 mark of the second half before being outscored 14-5 by the Lobos over the next five minutes

* UNM forward David Chiotti had his best scoring output in eight games, since tallying a career-high 24 points vs. Sacramento State...Chiotti distributed the ball as well, notching a career-high 5 assists

* Lobo forward Danny Granger notched his team-leading 4th double-double of the year, finishing with 23 points and 12 rebounds...he has logged three straight double-doubles...the last Lobo to have four in a row was Kenny Thomas, who had five consecutive to open the 1997-98 season

* New Mexico held a 36-25 rebounding advantage...the Lobos are now 6-1 this season when outrebounding their opponent

* UNM's starters each played 30+ minutes for the first time this year...the Lobos had four players score in double figures for the fourth time this year...four starters have scored in double figures in 3 straight home games

HOT AT HOME; SEVEN AND COUNTING - The Lobos have won seven straight home games by an average of 17.8 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.

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 rankings, you won't find Troy DeVries or Danny Granger's names listed among the leaders in NCAA or Mountain West Conference statistical categories for awhile. The NCAA and MWC require a minimum of 75 percent participation in a team's games to be eligible for the rankings. Provided they don't miss any upcoming games, the 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 required minimum of games played 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. Through games of Jan. 9, New Mexico is averaging 9.46 treys a game to rank 1st in the MWC and among the nation's leaders.

Through Jan. 6, Javin Tindall is 1st in the MWC, averaging 2.92 a game, while Alfred Neale ranks 9th at 1.85 a game. Although not in the official rankings yet, Troy DeVries is averaging a team-best 3.29 after seven games.

More tidbits about the 3-ball proficiency:

> 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

> The school record for 3s in a season is 301 set in 32 games in 1997-98...at 9.46 a game, the current Lobos are on 30-game pace for 284, which would rank No. 3 for a single season

> The single-season standard for 3-pt. FGs made per game is 9.67...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 38.7%

> UNM has made at least one 3-pointer in 409 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 twoce at home...the 1993-94 team accomplished that feat four times

> New Mexico is averaging 10 treys and shooting 41% in 11 home games

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

>UNM attempted a season-high 35 3-point attempts against San Diego, 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 vs. USD, tying for eighth on the single-game list

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

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 13 games this season, the Lobos have yielded a stingy 61.8 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 39.8% 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 - The Lobos have used the same starting lineup - David Chiotti, Danny Granger, Alfred Neale, Troy DeVries and Javin Tindall - for the past seven games...that quintet is 6-1...the last time UNM employed the same starters in eight straight games was Feb. 12-March 20, 2001 when Wayland White, Brian Smith, Marlon Parmer, Ruben Douglas and Eric Chatfield drew the nod

* Head coach Ritchie McKay has used four different starting lineups this season compared to 16 last year...Fran Fraschilla used eight combinations in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, and nine in 2001-02...the 1997-98 Lobos used the same starting five the first 25 games of the season: Clayton Shields, David Gibson, Lamont Long, Kenny Thomas and Royce Olney...that lineup was interrupted only after Olney tore his ACL at TCU

* New Mexico is shooting 72.1% from the FT line as a team, 2nd in the MWC through games of Jan. 9...the accuracy is 74.5% (105-141) since Troy DeVries and Danny Granger became eligible...DeVries is shooting 70% (12-17) from the stripe, while Granger is a steamy 84.4% (38-45)

* UNM made their last 14 FTs in the 77-63 win over Sacramento State...the Lobos are shooting 80% (37-46) 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 17.15 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, 46.9% this season compared to 42.3% last year...the Lobos' assist-to-basket ratio is 206-298 or 69%...the past 7 games it's 74.2% (132-178)...last year's was 51% (339-659)

* New Mexico is 9-2 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

* Danny Granger (4) and David Chiotti (3) have combined for seven double-doubles and the team has eight (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