Feb. 4, 2004
The University of New Mexico completes the first half of the Mountain West Conference schedule Saturday as Colorado State comes to town. The Lobos and Rams tipoff at 7:06 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. SportsWest will originate the live telecast with local viewing on KRQE-TV. The game will also be available through ESPN's Full Court package.
New Mexico is 11-8 overall and 2-4 in the MWC after losing 72-68 Monday at San Diego State. UNM played without sophomore post David Chiotti and reserve senior guard Ryan Ashcraft. Both were injured (separately) in practice on Sunday. Chiotti is expected back for Saturday's game. Ashcraft is out.
Parity? While the Lobos are tied with Wyoming and BYU for last place in the league entering this week's games, all three teams are just two games out of second place, currently held by Utah with a 4-2 conference record.
With at least nine games remaining in the season, UNM has surpassed its win total from last year when it finished 10-18. New Mexico is 11-3 in The Pit so far, and has won nine of 10. The Lobos were 10-7 at home last year. The Lobos are 9-5 after a 2-3 start.
Colorado State is 11-8 overall and 3-3 in MWC play following its third straight victory - all of those in overtime - 75-74 against Wyoming. The NCAA record for consecutive overtime games is four set by three teams, the last time by Illinois State in 1985.
The Rams could be without preseason all-conference center Matt Nelson, who reinjured his knee in a Jan. 27 game against UNLV. Nelson is averaging a team-best 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17 games. CSU is 1-7 in MWC games when Nelson hasn't play.
UNM head coach Ritchie McKay was 37-23 in two seasons (1999-00) as the head man at Colorado State. He led the Rams to the NIT in 1999.
UNM has had a full roster the past 13 games - since Dec. 21 - when Granger (Bradley) and Troy DeVries (Portland State) became eligible as mid-season transfers. The twosome has been UNM's top-two scorers since taking the court. UNM is 8-5 since their arrival. At 21.1 points a game, Granger would be leading the MWC in scoring had he played in the required number of games. His is averaging 9.7 rebounds. Granger, who is averaging 22.2 ppg in six MWC contests, has posted five double-doubles in his 13 games. He became 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 12.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and a team-leading 3.8 assists, including 12 dishes against Coppin State, the best total by a Lobo in 12 years. He is shooting 44% (34-77) from 3-point, an average of 2.9 treys a game.
LOBO TICKETS - Single-game tickets are available online at golobos.com, or by calling 925-5858 or (800) 905-3315. Ticket outlets include the athletics ticket office at The Pit, the ticket office at the UNM Bookstore on main campus, and Raley's and Western Wearhouse locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho.
Ticket office hours at The Pit are 8:30-5 Monday through Friday. Call (505) 925-5626 for more information.
LOBOS VS. COLORADO STATE - New Mexico has a 54-39 lead in a series that started Dec. 20, 1940, in Denver. Each team won at home last year, CSU 74-58 at Moby Arena and UNM 82-72 in The Pit. The Rams' victory snapped a 14-game losing streak against the Lobos, dating to 1994.
UNM has a 37-13 lead in games played in Albuquerque, including 31-3 in The Pit. The Lobos have won eight straight at home, and 32 of the past 33. The Rams' only wins in The Pit have come in 1970, '71 and '93.
Last year in Albuquerque: Mark Walters tied a career high with 19 points and Ruben Douglas added 28 to help UNM to an 82-72 victory.
Douglas did see his string of five straight 30-point games come to an end. He was held without a basket in the second half until 3:01 remained, then scored 12 of the Lobos' last 17 points - including two huge 3-pointers with the shot clock winding down - to help New Mexico hang on for the victory.
The taller Rams took an 8-2 lead as the Lobos missed 10 of their first 11 shots. New Mexico quickly turned it around, though, going on a 13-0 run to take a 30-17 lead. Matt Nelson's free throws started a 9-0 Colorado State spurt, bringing the Rams to within four at 30-26. But five points by Walters in the last 2:25 before halftime helped the Lobos to a 37-30 lead.
New Mexico moved its advantage to 47-36 with 16:37 to play and kept the lead in the eight-point range for much of the second half. However, the Rams went on an 11-4 run and trailed by only two at 61-59, with 5:23 remaining. David Chiotti, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds, then hit consecutive baskets to push the margin back to six at 65-59.
Last year in Fort Collins: Despite 35 points from Ruben Douglas, the Lobos dropped their Mountain West Conference opener 74-58. The loss snapped UNM's 14-game winning streak against CSU.
Douglas registered the seventh 30-point scoring effort of his Lobo career and had the highest output by a New Mexico player in a conference game since Charles Smith scored 37 points against Hawaii on Feb. 22, 1997.
Poor shooting translated into a slow start for the Lobos. After Douglas nailed a 3-pointer to open the game, UNM misfired on 13 of its next 14 shots as the Rams used a 12-0 run to grab a 21-7 lead midway through the first half.
CSU started on fire, though, making 10 of its first 14 shots from the floor. Many of those attempts were from inside the paint where the bigger Rams dominated. Colorado State led 38-22 at the break as Brian Greene tallied 16 points on 8 of 9 shooting. The Rams shot a blistering 64% (16-25) in the first period to UNM's 26% (8-31).
CSU had a 47-26 bulge early in the second half before Douglas nearly single-handedly brought UNM back. Scoring 15 points in a little more than three minutes, Douglas sparked a 16-5 run that trimmed the deficit to 52-42 with 12:30 remaining. A Javin Tindall 3-pointer and another Douglas bucket had UNM down by just seven at 54-47, however, a 10-2 Rams burst stifled UNM's comeback hopes.
New Mexico finished shooting just 32.8% (20-61) from the floor. The Lobos were 7-17 (41%) from the 3-point arc, meaning they converted only 28% (13-47) from two-point range.
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 104-115, 21-26 at New Mexico. McKay is 6-14 in conference games while at UNM, 6-4 at The Pit, 0-10 on the road. He is 1-1 against his former school, 1-0 in Albuquerque.
SAN DIEGO STATE RECAP / NOTES - Playing without starting post David Chiotti and reserve guard Ryan Ashcraft due to injuries, the New Mexico Lobos lost a tough one at San Diego State, 72-68. Aerick Sanders scored 27 points and added 10 rebounds as the Aztecs took control in the second half.
Trailing 65-53 with a little more than five minutes left, UNM went on a 13-3 run to close to 68-66 after Mark Walters converted a three-point play with 1:27 remaining. The Lobos had the ball twice trailing by three points in the closing minute but could not convert.
On the strength of its 3-point shooting, UNM had a 38-31 lead late in the first half. The lead was 38-35 at the break. The Lobos went more than six minutes between baskets during a second-half drought as the Aztecs increased their lead to 12. Danny Granger led UNM with 21 points and eight rebounds.
* Chiotti did not play for the first time this year due to a sprained left ankle suffered in practice on Sunday. Chiotti had been the only Lobo to start the first 18 games of the season. He is averaging 12.9 points and 5.6 rebounds and was coming off a 19-point performance at UNLV, his highest scoring in a conference game.
* Ashcraft did not dress after dislocating his right shoulder, also in Sunday's practice. With Chiotti and Ashcraft out, head coach Ritchie McKay was limited to just seven players.
* The Lobos lost their 22nd straight road game, their 23rd in a row away from Albuquerque, including neutral sites, and their 15th consecutive MWC away game.
* UNM made 10 of 19 3-pointers in the first half, but just 2 of 10 in the second. The Lobos made their first 5 treys (by 4 different players), but then went 7 of 24 the rest of the game.
* New Mexico made just one 2-point basket in the first half, a hoop by Mark Walters less than five minutes before halftime. UNM hit eight 3-pointers before making its first 2-pointer.
* SDSU had a huge 43-27 rebounding edge, the most UNM has been out-boarded this season. The Aztecs had a 17-4 advantage on the offensive end. San Diego State had a 34-10 margin in points in the paint and 24-6 on second-chance points.
* Walters scored a season-high 13 points. Alfred Neale had 14 points and 7 rebounds. He had scored just 10 points in his previous four games.
* Leading 38-35 at halftime, the Lobos lost for only the 3rd time in 14 games when leading at the break.
* UNM is now 9-2 in games decided by 10 points or more, 2-6 when the margin is under double figures
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 future 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.
Were they eligible, Granger would be leading the MWC in scoring (21.1) and rank 5th in rebounding (9.7), while DeVries would be 1st in the league in 3-pointers per game (2.92).
DISTRIBUTORS - The Lobos are 1st in the MWC in team assist average at 15.32 a game. That number is more than three assists better than last year's average of 12.11, which ranked last in the loop. The primary reason for more assists is that UNM is shooting much better than a year ago, 46.4% this season compared to 42.3% last year. The Lobos' assist-to-basket ratio is 291-453 or 64%. Last year's was 51% (339-659).
DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT - The Lobo defense has made some 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 19 games this season, the Lobos have yielded 64.8 ppg and only six teams have reached 70 points
* New Mexico is 6-0 when holding opponents to less than 60 points
* 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
IT'S RAINING 3s - The 3-point shot is definitely part of the Lobo arsenal. Through games of Feb. 2, New Mexico is averaging 9.1 treys a game to rank 1st in the MWC and 8th nationally out of 326 schools.
Javin Tindall is 1st in the MWC, averaging 2.74 made a game, while Alfred Neale ranks 11th at 1.52 a game. Although not in the official rankings yet, Troy DeVries is averaging a team-best 2.92 treys after 12 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 9.1 a game, the current Lobos are on 30-game pace for 273, 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 39.0%
* The 14 3-pointers at UNLV tie for the second-highest total by a Lobo team in a road game...UNM made 16 in a 79-72 victory at UTEP on Jan. 29, 1994, and it drilled 14 at Air Force on Jan. 8, 1994, an 80-54 triumph
* UNM has made at least one 3-pointer in 415 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 81 times...UNM's record in those games is 65-16
* The Lobos' streak of 415 games ranks as the 13th-longest streak in NCAA history...UNLV is first at more than 550 games...the Runnin' Rebels had made a 3 in every game since the shot became rule in 1986-87
* The Lobos have made 10 or more nine times this season...UNM has drained 15 or more twice at home...the 1993-94 team accomplished that feat four times
* New Mexico made eight 3s before making its first 2-point basket of the game at San Diego State
* 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
SEASON TRENDS / NOTES * The Lobos' victory over San Diego was the 1,200th in school history
* The Lobos have won 14 straight games when shooting better than their opponent, including 10-0 this season...the last loss was at Tennessee on Jan. 4, 2003...UNM shot 45% (18-40), the Vols 43% (22-51)...the Lobos are 49-4 since 2000-01, 146-13 since the 1995-96 season
* UNM won seven straight games at The Pit between Dec. 8-Jan. 9, the longest home winning streak since taking seven in a row from Dec. 1, 2001-Jan. 5, 2002...during the skein, the Lobos won by an average of 17.8 points and did not trail
* New Mexico had a season-low four turnovers against Utah in The Pit, the fewest since committing 4 vs. Cornell on Nov. 27, 1998
* The Lobos made their last 14 FTs in the 77-63 win over Sacramento State
* 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 (5) and David Chiotti (3) have combined for eight double-doubles and the team has nine (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