Jan. 10, 2009
Saturday: Lobos 73, Air Force 39
Up Next: Lobos at BYU, Jan. 17
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was a Lobo beginning that didn't suggest such a dominating ending for the University of New Mexico. The Lobos opened their Mountain West Conference game at Air Force going 1-of-15 from the field and falling behind 4-to-3.
But maybe the Lobos were simply getting in their normal shoot-around session that they didn't take on game day like they usually do because the Air Force Academy is so removed from Colorado Springs hotels.
"We did not come to shoot around because it's half an hour up and half and hour back," said Lobo Coach Don Flanagan after UNM's 73-39 romp. "By the time you do that, you don't have any other time because it's an afternoon (2 p.m.) game."
It took the Lobos about five minutes to adjust to the Air Force rims and the Air Force defense. The Lobos scored their first basket at 14:49 and then went on a 19-0 run that pushed the Lobos into a commanding 22-4 lead. The Lobos never looked back as they pulled away to the 34-point win.
"It took us a while to score," said Flanagan. "We didn't score until after the first (media) timeout. But I thought defensively we played well during that time. Air Force played hard. I thought they did a nice job on defense."
The Lobos were more than nice on defense. They were nasty. UNM held the Falcons to 21.6 percent shooting from the field as the Lobos raised their overall mark to 13-2 and went 2-0 in league play. The Lobos next game is Jan. 17 at Brigham Young.
"Our goal was to keep them below 49 points," said Flanagan, who saw his Lobos beat that mark by ten points. "We shot better the second half and ended up shooting 46 percent which is good."
The Lobos ended the game shooting 28-of-61 which meant UNM went 27-46 after you remove that 1-of-15 start.
"We've had some problems shooting here in the past," Flanagan said of the slow start. "I thought they defended us quite well early on. We were settling for the outside shot and not really getting it inside."
Flanagan said a small but active Lobo crowd helped his team during the game.
"They were noisy. They were involved in the game," said Flanagan. "That makes our players feel good to have fans, not only in The Pit, but fans who follow you."
It was UNM's 24th straight win over Air Force and Flanagan is 23-0 vs. the Falcons, who dropped to 4-11 on the year and 0-2 in MWC play. All 11 Lobos scored at least three points or had at least one rebound.
"You got to get them time on the floor or they're not going to get any better," said Flanagan. "There are times I feel like getting them out of there and talking to them, but if they don't experience some of the problems that they don't experience in a game, you can't do it in practice. I'm trying to give everyone as much as I can."