March 3, 2008
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.
A SPECIAL NIGHT ON TUESDAY
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.
A LEGEND IN THE HOUSE
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.
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.
NEW MEXICO-UNLV SERIES
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.
UNM-UNLV FEB. 2 IN LAS VEGAS
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.
Freshman Jonathan Wills
Freshman Dairese Gary
UNM-UNLV: LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE
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.
BYU RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
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.
Senior J.R. Giddens
Junior Chad Toppert
Junior Daniel Faris
Freshman Jonathan Wills