Stevens: Lobos Can Now Look To Huge MWC Battle At BYU
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/23/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

New Mexico-BYU Game Notes

Feb. 23, 2010

Box Score |  Quotes |  Notes

LOBO GEAR: Going to the Mountain West tourney and want to look spiffy on the Vegas Strip and in the Thomas & Mack? The Lobos have a deal for you. Lobo Gear will be marked down 30 percent on Senior Night games in The Pit. That's Feb. 27 for the women and March 3 for the men. Go to the tents! Look Lobo cool!!

Tuesday Lobos 72, Colorado State 66
Saturday: Lobos at Brigham Young, 2 p.m.
On The Air: Versus (TV); 770-AM KKOB

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

OK, the Lobos can finally say those three little words: Brigham Young University.

The 26-3 Lobos' showdown Saturday in Provo, Utah now falls into the one-game-at-a-time mentality that has helped the Lobos roll out 12 straight Mountain West Conference wins capped by a 72-66 win Tuesday night at Colorado State.

The Lobos (12-2 MWC) can grab at least a share of the 2010 title with a win at BYU (10-2 MWC). The stakes might even be higher, if the Cougars fail to defend their fort Wednesday night when the powerful San Diego State Aztecs come to Provo.

"I think San Diego State is really good," said Lobo coach Steve Alford of BYU's next opponent. "BYU has to hold serve (win at home), but there is a lot of season left to determine this championship. We have two games left and BYU has four games left. We are right there."

The No. 10/12 Lobos shook off a stubborn CSU team in the second half and used key offensive rebounds and key free throws to power to UNM's record-tying 12th MWC win in a row. It also gave Alford's Lobos a UNM record six straight league road wins and a record ninth road win of the season.

If the Lobos can make it 13 in a row vs. the talented Cougars, the young UNM team picked to finish fifth in the MWC just might be looking at an outright MWC title.

"We just tied a conference record," said Alford. "This was a night we shoot 36 percent and still win. We get 19 offensive rebounds."

The Lobos won that board battle 44 to 32 with Roman Martinez pulling down 12 and Darington Hobson hauling down 10. UNM was paced in scoring by Dairese Gary with 23, Martinez with 17, Hobson with 15 and Phillip McDonald with 10.

A key for UNM was throwing out a 13-0 run that included the last four points of the first half and the first nine points of the second half. The Lobos also handled the ball better in the second 20 minutes with only four turnovers. They had 12 miscues in the first half.





"I thought we looked a little entitled in the first half instead of playing like it was a privilege," said Alford. "We have a bulls-eye on our back and we got great effort out of Colorado State.

"We had to win this one. If you don't win this one, you don't control your own destiny. There was a lot of pressure on this game. I thought our guys felt that pressure a little bit to start the game. I thought we were tight at the beginning of the game."

The Rams rolled to a 32-29 halftime lead behind the shooting of former walk-on Adam Nigon, who finished with 23 points. The Lobos opened the second half with a 9-0 run to grab a 38-32 lead.

The Rams tied the game at 47-all with 9:16 to play and pulled ahead 49-47 on a dunk by Andy Ogide. UNM then got back-to-back treys from Hobson and Martinez to jump up 53-49. CSU again grabbed the lead at 6:30, 55-53, on a trey by Nigon.

The Lobos then went up 60-55. A huge bucket was a Gary layup with 1:22 to play that pushed UNM up 66-60. A Nigon trey made it 69-66 with 24 seconds to go. Gary iced the game with two free throws that put UNM up 71-66 with 18 ticks to play.

"I'm so proud of this team," said Alford. "They have a great demeanor on the road. It's an amazing team, an amazing chemistry team that fights for each other."

Second Half -- Lobos 43, Colorado State 34

The Lobos came out down 32-29. Gary opened the second half with a trey on the wing off a Martinez pass and UNM quickly tied the game at 32-all. Hobson pushed UNM up 33-32 with a free throw. His miss led to a McDonald jumper and a 35-32 Lobo lead. CSU called a timeout, less than two minutes into the half, trying to slow down UNM's quick start.

"I thought the start in the second half was huge," said Alford. "We made some shots and I liked our energy. Our energy in the second half was a lot better than the first half."

Lobo Darington Hobson
15 Pts, 10 Rebs

Gary kept momentum on UNM's side with a power drive plus a free throw: 38-32. UNM was on a 9-0 run. CSU finally chipped the ice off its rim with a power flip by Andy Ogide at 16:22. UNM carried that 38-34 lead into the 15:37 break.

CSU scratched back into a 55-53 lead on back-to-back treys from Green and Nigon. Hobson tied it at 55-all with 5:58 to go. Hobson made it 57-55 scoring on an offensive board. CSU called a time out, apparently to discuss a way to keep UNM, and Hobson, off the offensive glass.

McDonald was held on a drive and made one free throw and UNM was up 58-55 with 4:28 to play. The scored stayed there going into the final media break at 3:43. Hobson raised UNM's lead to 60-55 on two free throws. The Lobos were winning this game on the boards as much as on the scoreboard.

A key play came when UNM was up 64-60 Hobson hauled down yet another offensive board. UNM called timeout with 1:40 to play, up 64-60.

The play coming out of the huddle was no surprise. It was more a question of who would drive to the bucket: Gary or Hobson. It was Gary, who flipped a shot off the glass on the right side. UNM was up 66-60. CSU called time with 1:04 to go -- down six.

Gary fouled CSU's green with 48 ticks to go. Green made one: 66-61. CSU fouled McDonald with 42.2 to play. The Lobo made one: 67-61, but CSU was two treys away from a tie.

Green went back to the line with 35.2 to go. He made both: 67-63. Gary responded from the line at the other end with 29.3 to go: 69-63. Nigon then came off a screen and the former walk-on banged in a trey: 69-66. CSU called time with 22.4 to go.

Gary again went to the line and threw in two: 71-66. The Rams' Green missed on a drive and Martinez hauled down the rebound and got hammered.

That was it. UNM won 72-66.

First Half -- Colorado State 32, Lobos 29

The Rams came out with good energy and tossed in a hot hand from Nigon, who scored 14 points. The Rams shot 41.7 percent from the floor to 40.7 percent for UNM. The Lobos were hurt by their 12 turnovers which led to 14 CSU points. UNM got five points off nine Ram turnovers. The Lobos were led in the half by Gary with nine points.

The Lobos got baskets from Gary, McDonald and Hobson and went into the first media break at 15:43 in a 7-all tie. Gary gave UNM a quick 3-0 lead with a trey on the baseline. UNM's A.J. Hardeman was on the bench at that point with two fouls.

The Lobos went up 9-7 on a Brown dunk off a Gary feed. Gary made it 11-8 on a baseline drive and layup. At the second media break at 11:40, UNM was up 11-10.

The Rams drifted up 16-13 before UNM came back with two treys. The first was a Fenton-to-McDonald-to-Martinez passing triangle that ended with a Martinez bomb. Jamal Fenton pushed the Lobos up 19-16 just beating the shot clock with a long trey near the top of the key. UNM carried that lead into the 7:37 break.

The teams continued to throw out a good battle for the Moby Arena fans and that crowd was pumped when the Rams went into the 3:36 media break up by two points, 25-23. The Rams outscored UNM 7-6 down the stretch to grab the 32-29 halftime lead.