Lobos Entertain Cougars on Big Monday
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/25/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

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Jan. 25, 2004

The New Mexico Lobos close out a three-game homestand Monday by hosting the Brigham Young Cougars. Tipoff is 10 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court. The Big Monday telecast will air live nationally on ESPN. The Lobos look for their first home sweep of Utah and BYU since the 1999-2000 season.

New Mexico is 10-6 overall and 1-2 in the MWC after a solid 70-54 victory over Utah, snapping the Utes' nine-game winning streak. The Lobos avoided their first 0-3 start in conference play since going 0-4 in 1979-80.

With at least 12 games remaining in the season, UNM has equaled its win total from last year when it finished 10-18. New Mexico is 10-3 in The Pit so far, and has won eight of nine. The Lobos were 10-7 at home last year.

The Lobos are 8-10 all-time on Big Monday since the first appearance during the 1995-96 season. After a 5-0 start between 1996-98, UNM is 3-10 since and just 2-8 since the 1999-2000 campaign.

The Cougars are 12-5 overall and 2-2 in MWC action after dropping a 74-52 decision at Air Force on Saturday. The Falcons shot 72.5% (29-40) from the floor, including 20 of 24 from inside the arc. BYU got off just 37 shots and missed 11 of 14 3-pointers. Air Force had an amazing 34-8 advantage in points in the paint. All-MWC center Rafael Araujo was held to 12 points and six rebounds.

UNM has had a full roster the past 10 games - since Dec. 21 - when midseason transfers Troy DeVries (Portland State) and Danny Granger (Bradley) became eligible. The 6'8" Granger is averaging 21.4 points and 10.2 rebounds, figures that would rank 1st and 2nd in the MWC, respectively, if he had played in enough games. Granger 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 12.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists, including 12 assists against Coppin State, the best total by a Lobo in 12 years. He is shooting 47% (29-62) from 3-point, an average of 2.9 treys a game.

LOBOS VS. BYU - BYU has a 65-47 advantage in a series that started 54 years ago. After the Lobos won eight of nine between 1996-2000, BYU has now captured four straight and eight of the past nine. UNM has a 29-24 lead in games played in Albuquerque, including 24-14 in The Pit.

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 103-113, 20-24 at New Mexico. McKay is 5-12 in conference games while at UNM, 5-4 at The Pit, 0-8 on the road. He is 1-4 in his career against BYU, 0-1 in Albuquerque.

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

UTAH RECAP / NOTES - Center Danny Granger scored 28 points and made an impressive debut at point guard Saturday in leading New Mexico to a 70-54 win over Utah. Granger baffled the Utes with his quickness and smooth jumpshot, hitting 10 of 16 shots and adding a team-high four assists, as the Lobos snapped Utah's nine-game winning streak.

Playing the point, Granger responded by hitting a pair of 15-foot jumpers and a 3-pointer in the game's first five minutes. Finishing with six rebounds and no turnovers in 35 minutes, Granger was equally tough inside, scoring consistently over the taller Utes. And when the Utes tried to double-team Granger, he passed off to open teammates.

The Lobos played a nearly flawless first half. They hit seven 3s, shot 54 percent and had just one turnover en route to a 38-18 lead. Granger sparked a 9-0 run early in the second half with a left-handed bankshot and an off-balance layup that put the Lobos ahead 49-22 with 14:51 left in the game. At that point, Granger had outscored the Utes 23-22.

The Utes managed a 19-4 run that cut the Lobos' lead to 53-41 with 6:31 left, but a 3-pointer by Troy DeVries and three free throws by Granger sandwiched around a Utah 3-pointer pushed the lead to 59-45. The Utes came into the game giving up an average of 54 points a game. DeVries added 14 points and David Chiotti scored 13 for the Lobos.

* Winning for only the 4th time in the past 14 meetings against the Utes, New Mexico recorded its biggest win over Utah since an 87-71 victory in The Pit on Feb. 1, 1997...the Lobos were No. 13 in the nation at the time, the Utes No. 4...the Lobos earned consecutive wins over Utah for the first time in seven years

* New Mexico's season-low four turnovers is the fewest since committing 4 vs. Cornell on Nov. 27, 1998...the Lobos previous low this season was eight at Wyoming on Jan. 12...UNM did not commit its first turnover until the 2:06 mark of the first half

* Leading 38-18 at halftime, New Mexico kept an opponent under 20 points in the first half for the fourth time this season...it was the sixth time this season that the Lobos had a halftime lead of 19 points or more...Utah's 18 points were its lowest first-half total since scoring 13 in a 76-44 loss to Connecticut in the Preseason NIT on Nov. 28...the Utes' 54 points were the lowest in The Pit in 12 years since a 60-54 UNM victory Jan. 3, 1992

* UNM is now 9-2 in games decided by 10 points or more, 1-4 when the margin is under double figures

* New Mexico shot 53.5% (23-43) overall and 44.4% (8-18) from beyond the arc, the second best efforts versus the Utes this year...UConn shot 62.3% (33-53) from the floor and 50% (2-4) from 3-point range...the Lobos 8 3-pointers tied for the most against Utah this year...Whitworth had 8 earlier this season

* The Lobos are only the second team to shoot better than 50% against Utah this season and only the third to surpass 40% from 3-point range

* UNM improved to 10-0 when out-shooting its opponents this season...the Lobos have won 14 straight games when having a higher shooting percentage...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 when shooting better than their opponent, 146-13 since the 1995-96 season

* Forward Alfred Neale pulled down seven rebounds, his best output in 10 games

* Except for the Air Force loss on Jan. 17, the Lobos have led for every second at home since Dec. 8

* In six games before Utah, UNM had yielded 70.5 ppg on 49% shooting and 43% from 3-point...the Utes shot 41% (22-54) overall and 23% (5-22) from beyond the arc

* UNM is now 10-2 when it leads at the break, 0-4 when it trails at halftime