Feb. 25, 2008
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You could probably call it Super Tuesday in Albuquerque as the two hottest basketball teams in the Mountain West Conference square off in what can be described as a tantalizing match-up.
New Mexico (22-6, 9-4 MWC), winners of 6 in a row and 15-1 at home this season, plays host to league-leader BYU (21-6, 10-2). The Cougars, ranked 25th in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, had a 9-game winning streak halted Saturday at San Diego State, falling 69-65 to the Aztecs.
Tipoff is 8:05 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court. The game will be televised live on The Mtn., with Rich Cellini and Dave Bollwinkel courtside. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.
On Jan. 26 in Provo, BYU dealt UNM an 83-66 defeat. The Cougars, who drilled 13 of 16 baskets from beyond the arc, led by 34 (79-45) with eight minutes left in the game. New Mexico committed a season-low 6 turnovers, but shot a season-worst 34.4% (22-63) from the field. UNM started the game missing 14 of its first 18 FGs. J.R. Giddens tied a season-low with just 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting.
BYU has won 5 straight against New Mexico for the first time since taking 5 in a row between Jan. 3, 1980 - Jan. 4, 1982. The last time UNM lost 6 consecutive games to the Cougars was during an 0-22 start to the series between 1950-62.
Additionally, BYU has won more games against New Mexico in The Pit (16) than any other opponent. And, the Cougars have snapped the Lobos' three longest home court winning streaks of 41, 24 and 21 games, respectively.
Two undesirable streaks were broken last week. New Mexico won 68-51 at Air Force, snapping a 7-game losing streak to the Falcons at Clune Arena. Then, on Saturday, an unsightly 18-game drought came to an end in Salt Lake City as UNM pulled off a 72-71 victory over Utah. It was the Lobos' first win against the Utes at the Huntsman Center since 1989. The productive New Mexico bench scored half of the team's points.
The Lobos remain in third place in the Mountain West Conference at 9-4, one-half game behind UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels host San Diego State Tuesday and TCU Saturday before coming to The Pit on March 4.
Picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, the Lobos have won 6 straight conference games for the first time since a 6-game streak from Feb. 14-March 5, 2005. The last 7-game streak was 10 years ago, an 8-game run from Jan. 24-Feb. 19, 1998.
Despite the loss at San Diego State, BYU remains in 1st place in the league with a conference mark of 10-2. The Cougars have a one-game lead over UNLV and are 1.5 games ahead of the Lobos.
LOBO BULLETS In the most recent Jeff Sagarin ratings through games of Saturday, Feb. 23, New Mexico is ranked No. 38, second-highest in the Mountain West...BYU is 1st at No. 34...UNLV is at No. 51...in collegerpi.com through games of Sunday, Feb. 24, the Lobos are No. 44, up 10 spots from last week...BYU is No. 26, UNLV No. 32
Through games of Saturday, Feb. 23, New Mexico remains 1st in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 43.72%...IUPUI is 2nd at 42.83%
Steve Alford has tied Dave Bliss for most wins by a New Mexico head coach in his rookie season...Bliss was 22-11 in 1988-89
Lobos' record by month: 7-0 in November; 5-2 in December; 4-3 in January; and 6-1 in February.
UNM has won 20 games in a season for the 21st time...all have occurred since the 1963-64 season...Steve Alford has his 9th 20-win campaign in 16 full seasons as a head coach
UNM has won 6 games in a row, most of those in dominating fashion, at least statistically...the Lobos have prevailed by an average of 21.5 points, and committed almost half as many turnovers, 57 to 112
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 had 7 turnovers at Utah, the 13th time this year with 10 or less in a game, and the 8th time in 13 MWC games...UNM is averaging just 11 turnovers in MWC games
The Lobos lead the MWC in scoring offense (75.0 ppg), scoring margin (+12.5), 3-point FGs (8.57 pg) and 3-point percentage (43.7%)...UNM's 3-point shooting would be the best in school history were it to hold up for the entire season
Although UNM is shooting just 63.4% from the FT line in conference games, it has made 81% of its charities (59-73) in crunch time (the last 3 minutes and in OT) in 13 MWC games
After going 8-43 in true road games - played on the opponents' home floor - the past five seasons (2003-07), UNM is 7-5 this year and has won 3 consecutive conference road games for the first time since 2000...the school record for most true road wins in a season is 8 on three occasions: 8-4 in 1972-73, 8-2 in 1977-78 and 8-3 in 1995-96
It took New Mexico only 20 games to surpass last year's victory total (15-17)...UNM has also more than doubled last year's win total for conference games (4-12)
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 12-6 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 23 games, the most by a UNM freshman point guard since John Robinson II started 30 in 1998-99...with 95 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 23 games, Wills 12...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 330-189 (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 0-1 in his career against BYU.
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. GiddensDespite ranking only 10th in the league in minutes played at 31.3 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...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, and the most by 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
Simpy stated, senior J.R. Giddens has been gettig it done on both ends of the floor the past few weeks.
NEW MEXICO-BYU SERIES
It's game No. 123 in a series that started Jan. 29, 1950. BYU has a 72-50 lead and has won 5 straight, 15 of the past 19 overall and 8 in a row in Provo. The Cougars lead 12-5 in MWC games.
UNM-BYU JAN. 26 IN PROVO
Lee Cummard scored 20 points and Jonathan Tavernari added 19 to lead BYU past New Mexico 83-66. BYU wasted no time securing its 42nd consecutive home win in front of 19,932 fans. The Cougars trailed at 2-0, but after Sam Burgess connected on a 3-pointer to give BYU a 5-2 lead they never trailed again.
Burgess gave BYU a hot start by scoring all nine of his first half points in the first five minutes of the game. Then it was Tavernari's turn. He followed with 16 first-half points as the Cougars took a commanding 44-24 lead at the break.
BYU shot 51 percent overall for the game and was 13-of-16 from behind the 3-point line, including 5-of-6 from long range by Tavernari and 3-of-3 from Burgess. New Mexico shot 27 percent in the first half including 1-of-5 from beyond the 3-point line and 34 percent for the game.
Dairese Gary led the Lobos with 17 points along with Daniel Faris and Darren Prentice with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
New Mexico has lost 8 in a row to the Cougars in Provo...UNM's last win at the Marriott Center was 78-74 on Feb. 17, 2000
BYU connected on its first 5 shots from 3-point in each half and finished the game making 13 of 16 (81.3%)
New Mexico committed a season-low 6 turnovers, but shot a season-worst 34.4% (22-63) from the field...UNM started the game just 4 of 18
Freshman Dairese Gary led UNM with 17 points, plus 5 rebounds and 3 steals
Junior Daniel Faris12 points and 8 rebounds
Senior J.R. Giddenstied a season-low for the 3rd time this season with just 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting; he also had 4 in the win at Colorado and in a loss at New Mexico State
came into the BYU game with averages of 17 points and 10.5 rebounds in the previous 8 games
UNM-BYU: LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE
Freshman Jonathan Tavernari scored 18 points and BYU used a late first half run to take control in a 70-49 win. Tavernari tied his career high on a night when Keena Young, the Cougars leading scorer, scored just eight points, six of them in the game's final five minutes. Trent Plaisted added 11 points for the Cougars. Tony Danridge led the Lobos with 21 points as New Mexico scored a season-low point total.
J.R. Giddens, the Lobos' leading scorer, did not start and went scoreless. He left the game with 12:24 in the second half with an injured left ankle.
BYU took control by scoring the last 11 points of the first half for a 37-28 lead. The Cougars hit their last six shots of the first half after the teams had traded the lead 17 times, plus four ties. Tavernari hit back-to-back 3-pointers, reserve guard Sam Burgess hit two free throws and a 3-pointer in the run.
New Mexico got within 43-37 with 13:27 left on a 3-point play by Danridge, but Tavernari hit a layup while all alone under the basket and after Giddens went out, Tavernari hit a bankshot and the Cougars regained the momentum for good.
The 21-point margin is the Lobos' largest home loss since a 68-42 setback to Air Force on Jan. 17, 2004
BYU equaled its biggest win over New Mexico in Albuquerque since an 83-62 decision on Feb. 26, 1998...it was that game 10 years ago that snapped the Lobos' 41-game homecourt winning streak
The first half featured 4 ties and 17 lead changes, however, BYU closed with an 11-0 run to take a 37-28 halftime lead and never trailed again...the Cougars hit their last 6 shots of the first half while New Mexico's last 7 trips of the 1st half resulted in 3 turnovers and 4 missed shots...UNM did not score the final 3:41 of the 1st stanza
UTAH RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
J.R. Giddens scored 19 points, including one of three straight 3-pointers down the stretch as New Mexico pulled ahead and then held on for a 72-71 win over Utah on Saturday. The Lobos snapped an 18-game losing streak to the Utes at the Hunstman Center, dating to 1989.
Chad Toppert and Jamaal Smith also hit 3-pointers during a late 11-2 run for the Lobos, mostly while Utah's Luke Nevill was on the bench after picking up his fourth foul. By the time Nevill returned for the final 1:49, the Utes trailed 63-59 and never recovered.
The Lobos led 72-69 with 8.8 seconds left after Dairese Gary missed the second of two free throws and Utah's Shaun Green got the rebound. The Utes rushed downcourt, but Tyler Kepkay drove for a layup instead of taking a 3-pointer, which could have tied it. Kepkay missed the layup and put back his own rebound as the horn sounded with the Lobos holding the 1-point edge.
Smith finished with 17 points, including 8 of 10 free throws in the final 1:11 as the Lobos extended their winning streak to six games. Darren Prentice added 10 points for New Mexico.
Johnnie Bryant scored 17 points for the Utes, including a steal and 3-pointer with 15.6 seconds left that allowed the Utes to make it close. Nevill added 16 points and five rebounds.
UNM's last win at the Huntsman Center was 79-76 on Feb. 16, 1989
The game featured 9 ties and 12 lead changes
Trailing 38-35 at halftime, UNM won for only the 2nd time in 5 games this season when down at the break...the only other win came at Wyoming when the Lobos trailed 48-32, but ended up winning 99-92 in double overtime
The Lobos trailed 57-52 with 5:19 left in the game, but J.R. Giddens scored 5 points during an 8-0 run, including a 3-pointer that gave UNM a lead (60-57) it would never relinquish
New Mexico made its last 3 FGs of the game, and all were 3-pointers from Chad Toppert, J.R. Giddens and Jamaal Smith to take a 63-59 lead
New Mexico made 9 of its last 12 FTs in the final 1:11 of the game, 8 of 10 by Jamaal Smith
The bench scored half of UNM's points: 17 from Jamaal Smith, 10 from Darren Prentice and 9 from Chad Toppert...the trio combined to make 9 of 12 FGs and 6 of 8 3s
New Mexico's first 3-point attempt did not come until the 10:39 mark of the 1st half when Chad Toppert connected from the corner...the Lobos were 8 of 14 from 3-point range, or 57%...UNM came into the game 1st in the nation in 3-point shooting at 43.4%...the season percentage is now 43.7%
UNM started 5 of 21 from the floor, but finished the game 24 of 56 (43%), its lowest percentage during the 6-game winning streak
The Lobos had 7 turnovers, the 13th time this year with 10 or less in a game, and the 8th time in 13 MWC games
Senior J.R. Giddens finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals
scored 5 points during an 8-0 run, including a 3-pointer that gave UNM a lead it would never lose
Senior Jamaal Smith off the bench, he scored 14 of his 17 points in the 2nd half, including 8 of 10 FTs in the final 1:11
also 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 turnover in just 20 minutes
was 2 of 2 from 3-point, and is now 10 of 13 in the past 6 games...season percentage is now 55% (35-64)
averaged 11.6 ppg the past 5 games, making 20 of 24 FTs
UNM is now 11-1 this year when he scores in double figures
Senior Darren Prentice 10 points on 3-4 FGs, 1-2 from 3-point and 3-3 FTs in 16 minutes...also 2 assists and 0 turnovers
16 points the past 2 games after just 19 in his previous 4
Junior Chad Toppert 9 points on 3-4 shots from 3-point
has 175 3-pointers in his career, passing Royce Olney for 6th place all-time at UNM
has made a 3-pointer in 21 straight games, tying Lamont Long (1999-2000) for the 5th-longest streak in school history
season accuracy is 49.3% (76-154) in all games and 52% (39-75) in MWC action
career accuracy from 3-point is 46% (175-380), 1st all-time at UNM
Junior Daniel Faris tied a career-high with 3 steals
Sophomore Roman Martinez 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 0 TOs in 27 minutes
Freshman Jonathan Wills Lobos are 12-0 when he starts