Lobos Host UNLV Tuesday on Senior Night
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/03/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 3, 2008

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    The final home game of the regular season is Tuesday night when New Mexico (22-7, 9-5 MWC) plays host to UNLV (22-6, 11-3) in a key Mountain West Conference game. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court. The game will be televised live on CSTV with Carter Blackburn and Sean Farnham calling the action. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.

    The Lobos are in third place in the league with two games remaining. One-half game ahead of San Diego State in the conference standings, New Mexico, will either be the No. 3 seed or No. 4 seed at next week's MWC Tournament in Las Vegas regardless of this week's outcomes against UNLV and Colorado State. SDSU is 9-6 in the league and has just one game remaining, Saturday afternoon at Air Force.

    San Diego State wins any tiebreaker with the Lobos since SDSU split the season series with BYU. The Lobos were swept by the Cougars.

    If New Mexico is the No. 3 seed, it will play the No. 6 seed next Thursday, March 13, at 9:30 p.m. MST in Las Vegas. If it is the No. 4 seed, UNM will face the No. 5 seed Thursday at 3:30 p.m. MST.

    The Lobos' most recent action was last Tuesday, a heartbreaking 70-69 overtime loss to league-leader BYU in front of a sold out crowd at The Pit. UNM had a 6-game winning streak snapped.

    UNLV handled TCU 74-55 Saturday in Las Vegas. The Runnin' Rebels have won three in a row and five of their past six.

    On Feb. 2 in Las Vegas, UNLV handed New Mexico its worst loss of the season, 79-60. Wink Adams had a game high 24 points and Joe Darger added 17 as the Rebels never trailed. They opened the game on a 21-5 run, including a stretch of 13 unanswered points. UNLV eventually led by 30 points in the second half. The Lobos committed 16 turnovers in the first half, including 10 in the opening eight minutes.

    It's Senior Night at The Pit with J.R. Giddens, Darren Prentice and Jamaal Smith playing their final home game. The trio will be individually recognized and address the crowd after the game.

    Game sponsors include Fidelity Investments, Kiss 97.3 and Coyote 102.5. The first 4,000 fans will receive large team photos courtesy of Fidelity Investments.

    Special Olympics of New Mexico will have 15-20 Special Olympians greeting fans upon entrance to the game.

    LeRoy Neiman, an artist world-famous for his colorful depictions of celebrities and sporting events, will be in residence at UNM's Tamarind Institute from March 2-12.

    The artist will work collaboratively with Tamarind's Master Printer to make an original lithograph inspired by the Lobos men's basketball team. Mr. Neiman has generously donated all proceeds from the sale of the lithograph to Tamarind's capital campaign.

    Mr. Neiman has been following the Lobos in preparation for his visit. For additional first-hand experience, President David Schmidly, a devoted fan of both the Lobos and Mr. Neiman, will accompany the artist to the final Lobo home game against UNLV. Subsequently, the artist will complete the drawings for his lithograph at Tamarind, where the limited edition will be printed by Tamarind master printers from the drawings.

    President Schmidly will attend a private reception honoring the artist on March 11 at Tamarind, and will unveil the new lithograph at that time.

    Tamarind Institute is a division of the University of New Mexico's College of Fine Arts and is recognized worldwide as a leader in collaborative lithography. It will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2010 with a major traveling exhibit and a new home at 2500 Central Avenue SE.


  • In the most recent Jeff Sagarin ratings through games of Sunday, March 2, New Mexico is ranked No. 42, second-highest in the Mountain West...BYU is 1st at No. 31...UNLV is at No. 44...in collegerpi.com through games of Sunday, March 2, the Lobos are No. 53...BYU is No. 22, UNLV No. 27

  • Through games of Sunday, March 1, New Mexico remains 1st in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 42.63%...IUPUI is 2nd at 42.31%

  • 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

  • New Mexico has tied a school record for the 2nd straight season and the 5th time overall by playing 4 overtime games in a season

  • The Lobos' record month-by-month: 7-0 in November; 5-2 in December; 4-3 in January; and 6-2 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

  • The Lobos had a sellout of 18,018 fans against BYU, the first capacity crowd since New Mexico State on Nov. 28, 2006...it was the first sellout for a conference game since Colorado State on March 5, 2005...average attendance in 2007-08 is now 14,146, a per-game increase of 1,293 over last year's average of 12,853...the last time UNM had sellout crowds in consecutive games was for Arizona and New Mexico State in November/December of 1996...the last time for back-to-back sellouts in conference games was 1994 when Lobo fans bought every ticket for six straight games

  • New Mexico is 15-2 at home this year, winning by an average margin of 20.6 points...the blemishes were a 72-67 loss to San Diego State, a game the Lobos led 24-10 in the first half and 33-25 at halftime, and 70-69 in overtime to BYU

  • The Lobos had 7 turnovers in overtime against BYU, the 14th time this year with 10 or less, and the 9th time in MWC...UNM is averaging just 10 turnovers in MWC games

  • The Lobos lead the MWC in scoring offense (74.8 ppg), scoring margin (+12.0), 3-point FGs (8.4 pg) and 3-point percentage (42.6%)...UNM's 3-point shooting would be the 2nd-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 80% of its charities (61-76) in crunch time (the last 3 minutes and in OT) in 14 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 18-3 when leading at halftime

  • UNM has 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 12-7 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 24 games, the most by a UNM freshman point guard since John Robinson II started 30 in 1998-99...with 97 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 42, 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 24 games, Wills 13...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 330-190 (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 UNLV.

    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. Giddens
    Simpy stated, senior J.R. Giddens has been gettig it done on both ends of the floor the past few weeks. And Giddens has been even better in conference games

  • Despite ranking only 9th in the league in minutes played at 31.7 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 was named co-MWC Player of the Week twice in February...he scored 47 points in 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 Feb. 13, 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 also earned the honor 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...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

    UNLV has a 23-12 lead in a series that started Jan. 17, 1976. The Rebels have taken 4 straight overall, 12 of the past 15 and 10 of the past 11 at the Thomas and Mack.

    UNM's last win in the series was 47-39 on March 1, 2006. The 39 points is UNLV's lowest total in school history. The Lobos swept the season series in 2005 during Danny Granger's senior season.

    Wink Adams had a game high 24 points and Joe Darger added 17 as the Rebels never trailed in a 79-60 victory. The Rebels opened the game on a 21-5 run, including a stretch of 13 unanswered points. Corey Bailey and Adams each had six points in the outburst.

    UNLV opened the second half on an 8-2 run to extend a 20-point halftime advantage to 48-22. The Rebels led by at least 20 points until the final minute of the game when New Mexico scored the game's final seven points.

    New Mexico committed 16 turnovers in the first half, including 10 in the opening eight minutes, as the Rebels led by as many as 22 points. The Lobos were also limited to six field goals in the half. J.R. Giddens led the Lobos with 13 points and Roman Martinez added 10.

  • The 19-point loss is UNM's widest to UNLV in Las Vegas since a 100-68 setback in 1982

  • The Lobos were scoreless for a span of 6:15 of the first half as UNLV increased an 8-5 lead to 21-5...UNM trailed 40-20 at halftime, the second straight game it was down by 20 at the break

  • The Lobos came into the game leading the MWC in 3-point shooting at 42.1%, but were held to 33.3% (8-24)

  • After committing a season-low 6 turnovers in the previous game at BYU, the Lobos were guilty of a season-high 22 against UNLV, including 16 in the first half and 11 in the first 9 minutes...the Lobos had committed just 22 turnovers in its past 3 games

    Freshman Jonathan Wills

  • scored 7 points, his best outing since 13 points in the season opener at Colorado
  • added a season-high 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 0 turnovers in 23 minutes

    Freshman Dairese Gary

  • 7 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds and just 1 turnover

    Freshman Kevin Kruger scored a career-high 29 points and his late block of a shot by New Mexico's best 3-point shooter sealed UNLV's 85-83 win. New Mexico used a furious second half rally to nearly pull out a win.

    Kruger hit seven 3-pointers and had 9 assists, but his biggest play was his block of Chad Toppert's 3-point shot with four seconds left. Toppert got a chance for a game-winner after teammate Darren Prentice missed the second of two free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining for the game's final point.

    Kruger's block sent the ball out of bounds and New Mexico got one more shot with 0.5 seconds remaining. J.R. Giddens, who led the Lobos with a career-high 28 points and scored 11 of the Lobos' last 12 points, put up an off-balance 3-pointer that was short.

    UNLV used a 17-0 run to open up a 58-42 lead with 13:11 left. Kruger hit a pair of 3-pointers and added two free throws off a technical call on Ritchie McKay in the midst of the run. McKay was hit with the technical after slamming his clipboard to the court while arguing with an official during a timeout.

    But New Mexico wasn't finished. The Lobos answered with an 11-2 run. A short jumper in the lane by Tony Danridge cut the UNLV lead to 60-53 with 10:15 left. Moments later the Lobos put together another 11-2 run to get within 68-66. Prentice finished the run with five straight points on a 3-pointer and then a layup after he stole a pass.

    The teams traded leads, Giddens carrying the Lobos' offense with a variety of drives to the basket and outside jumpers and Kruger hit a pair of clutch shots. Joel Anthony gave the Rebels the lead for good (80-78) with a dunk with 1:27 left and 20 seconds later Kruger followed with his final 3-pointer.

    Giddens countered with a 3-pointer to make it 83-81 and had a chance to tie it with 23.7 seconds left but missed the first of two free throws. UNLV guard Wink Adams then hit two free throws with 20.4 seconds left.

    New Mexico led 29-16 in the first half after scoring nine straight points but the Rebels closed out the first half with a 12-2 run to tie it at 37-37 at halftime.

  • J.R. Giddens came off the bench to score a career-high 28 points, including 20 in the second half and 11 of the Lobos' final 12 points of the game...Giddens' 28 points ties for the 2nd-most by a Lobo reserve...Larry Belin came off the bench for 29 at Utah on Jan. 11, 1979 while Willie Banks had 28 against George Washington on Dec. 27, 1988

  • Aaron Johnson had 15 points and 11 rebounds for his 4th double-double of the season and 23rd of his career

  • Darren Prentice scored 14 points, 12 coming in the second half

    Trent Plaisted scored 23 points, hitting two big free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining in overtime as BYU survived a shaky first half to beat New Mexico 70-69. Plaisted, held to six points in the first half, was fouled as time ran down but calmly stepped to the line and made the first attempt to tie it at 69 and, after a New Mexico timeout, made the next for a 70-69 lead.

    The ending featured some confusion and controversy. New Mexico's Jamaal Smith raced downcourt and got an errant 12-footer airborne. It bounced off the backboard and then the horn sounded. BYU players celebrated, but officials converged to view a television replay.

    They decided the ball had touched a BYU player before the horn and put 0.1 seconds back on the clock. That allowed New Mexico to try an inbound play to score, but J.R. Giddens missed a catch-and-shoot attempt in the lane.

    Giddens scored 30 points and had seven rebounds for the Lobos, who had their six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 15-2 at home this season.

    New Mexico seemed to have control when Dairese Gary made two free throws for a 69-66 lead with 1:06 to play in overtime, but BYU's Sam Burgess answered with two of his own free throws to pull the Cougars to 69-68 with 57.1 seconds to go. Each team missed a chance to win it at the end of regulation, with Gary's runner off the mark, and Fredette unable to make a 55-footer at the horn.

    New Mexico led 52-48 with 8 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation when Roman Martinez hit a 3-pointer to bring the capacity crowd of 18,018 to full cheer. After a timeout, freshman Jonathan Wills added another 3-pointer to push the lead to 55-48. Plaisted scored for BYU but Gary came away with a loose ball to start a fastbreak, which Martinez capped with a basket and a foul. He made the ensuing free throw, and the Lobos led 58-50 with 6:25 to go.

    BYU wouldn't quit, though, and the Cougars tied it at 58 with 3:01 on the clock. Plaisted scored three baskets inside, Chris Collinsworth made a free throw and Cummard swished a 3-pointer, forcing a New Mexico timeout.

  • BYU has won 6 straight games against New Mexico for the first time since taking the first 22 contests of the series between 1950-62...the Cougars have won more games against New Mexico in The Pit (17) than any other opponent

  • BYU outscored the Lobos 7-6 in overtime and all of the Cougars' points came from the FT line...they were 0 of 3 from the floor in OT

  • BYU led 28-27 and did not regain the lead again until it was 62-60 with 1:22 left in regulation

  • New Mexico came into the game leading the nation in 3-point percentage at 43.7%...the Lobos were 3 of 21 (14.3%), missing 14 of their first 15

  • New Mexico shot 36.6% for the game...2 of UNM's 3 lowest shooting games of the season have come against the Cougars...in two games against BYU this year, the Lobos have shot 35.6% (48-135) from the floor and 23% (9-39) from 3-point

  • BYU started the game by making 9 of its first 15 FGs (60%), then converted just 13 of 41 (31.7%) the rest of the way to finish the game at 39.3%

  • New Mexico is now 15-2 at home this year, losing to San Diego State and BYU

    Senior J.R. Giddens

  • finished with 30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks
  • played 44 out of a possible 45 minutes Sophomore Roman Martinez
  • nearly had his first career double-double with 8 points, a career-high 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 0 turnovers in 34 minutes

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • had made a 3-pointer in 21 straight games before going 0 for 5
  • season accuracy is now 47.8% (76-159) in all games and 49% (39-80) in MWC action
  • career accuracy from 3-point is 45.4% (175-385), still 1st all-time at UNM

    Junior Daniel Faris

  • 8 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals in 21 minutes before fouling out

    Freshman Jonathan Wills

  • Lobos lost for the first time (12-1) when he started a game
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