Dec. 2, 2003
The second test of a challenging four-games-in-eight-days slate puts the New Mexico Lobos on the road for the first time this season as they visit in-state rival New Mexico State Wednesday night. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. from the Pan American Center in Las Cruces. Albuquerque's KRQE-TV will show the game live throughout the state.
UNM is 2-1 after suffering a 77-71 loss Monday to a seasoned University of Portland team. New Mexico State is 3-0 with home victories over New Mexico Highlands (89-69), Texas-Arlington (72-62) and Eastern New Mexico (78-44). Both UNM and NMSU have played a pair of Div. II schools among their three games to date.
After New Mexico State, UNM returns home for games against Texas Tech Saturday and Sacramento State Monday. Then, it's a 13-day break for semester exams before the resumption of games on Dec. 21. New Mexico plays nine of its first 10 games at home and does not leave the state until a Jan. 3 trip to Wake Forest.
BUY A BONUS PACK; GET A FREE TICKET TO NMSU - Lobo basketball fans can get a free ticket to the New Mexico State game on Dec. 22 when they purchase a six-game Bonus Pack for just $72. The Bonus Pack includes the following six games: Coppin State Dec. 21, Northwestern State Dec. 28, U. of San Diego Jan. 6, Cornell Jan. 9, Air Force Jan. 17 and BYU Jan. 26. Fans must come to the ticket office at The Pit to purchase the Bonus Pack. Call (505) 925-5626 for more information.
UNM-NMSU NOTES - It's the 191st meeting in a series that dates to Dec. 22, 1904. That means the game in The Pit in three weeks will be the 99th anniversary of the inaugural battle. The Aggies won both games last year, 59-58 in Las Cruces and 72-60 in The Pit, for their second sweep in the past four years. NMSU last captured three straight during the 1999 calendar year, Jan. 19 through Dec. 23. New Mexico State has won six of the past nine overall, including three of four in The Pit. The Lobos are 5-3 in the Pan Am since 1995.
Current NMSU assistant J.J. DeTemple is a 1994 UNM graduate. He served as student manager and director of basketball operations on Dave Bliss' staff from 1992-98.
Last Year in Las Cruces: The Aggies took a 59-58 victory. Trailing 58-57, NMSU scored the eventual game-winner with 21 seconds remaining when Brandon Mason stripped Ruben Douglas in the frontcourt and fed Jason Fontenet for a layup. It was the Aggies' first lead since 19-18. It was also the Lobos' 20th turnover of the evening. Douglas led the Lobos with 20 points. UNM was just 5-20 from 3-point, 1-8 in the second half. Mason scored 15 of his team-high 20 points after halftime. NMSU shot just 34% (18-53) from the floor.
Last Year in Albuquerque: New Mexico State earned a 72-60 victory to get the season sweep. New Mexico forced 23 Aggie turnovers, but down the stretch UNM could not get a much-needed basket, after pulling to within 64-58 with 1:40 to play. Douglas hit a basket and Jamaal Williams added a free throw for a 3-0 lead, and it would be the Lobos' only lead of the game, as the Aggies went on an 11-0 tear to take control. New Mexico State upped its lead to 44-31 in the second half, but 3s by Javin Tindall, Jeff Hart and Ryan Ashcraft spearheaded a 16-7 Lobo run that brought them to within four at 51-47. But eight straight points by the Aggies quickly nullified the effort. NMSU held a 45-30 advantage on the boards.
PORTLAND RECAP/NOTES - Fueled by hot shooting, Portland used a 20-6 run in the second half to overtake the Lobos 77-71 Monday at The Pit. Casey Frandsen came off the bench to score 23 points, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range. He came into the game averaging four points. Frandsen's trio of treys came in a span of 2:16 late in the game as the Pilots built their lead to nine. His 3 capped the decisive run that turned a 50-45 deficit into a 65-56 lead with 4:36 left. New Mexico went 7:27 without a basket as its lead disappeared.
Trailing 68-59 with 4:09 left, the Lobos scored seven straight points to pull within two following a lay-in by freshman Lenny Miles. However, Portland scored on its next possession, then canned 7 of 8 FTs over the final 37 seconds to secure the victory.
The Lobos had a 26-14 advantage as Alfred Neale and David Chiotti each scored nine points in the early going. UNM led 34-29 at the break. Neale recorded the first double-double of his New Mexico career with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Chiotti added 19, but posted just one board.
UNM shot just 38% (10-26) in the second half, including 33% (5-15) from 3-point. The Pilots were smoking from the floor after halftime, nailing 65% (15-23) of their attempts, including 64% (7-11) from beyong the arc. Led by Frandsen, the Portland reserves outscored UNM's bench, 32-0. The last time New Mexico failed to receive points from its bench was in a 78-58 loss at Utah on March 1, 1997.
* New Mexico falls to 2-1 on the year, while Portland (3-1) won its third straight and improved to 2-0 on the road...UNM head coach Ritchie McKay fell to 1-2 in his career against the Pilots after splitting a pair of games while the head coach at Oregon State (W, 74-60) and Portland State (L, 67-52).
* UNM hit 14 of its first 26 shots (53.8%) from the floor before missing 16 of its final 25 attempts (36%)...the Lobos shot a season-low 45.1% and 35.7% from 3-point range, while Portland's .551 field-goal percentage and .500 3-point mark were both season-highs for UNM opponents
* New Mexico extended its streak to 399 straight games with at least one 3-point basket made
* Alfred Neale recorded the first double-double of his Lobo career, finishing with a season-best 22 points and 13 rebounds...he also tied a season-high with four 3-pointers...through 3 games, the junior jumping-jack is averaging 15 ppg and leads the team in rebounding (8.3 rpg), blocks (10) and steals (5)...he is shooting 58% (15-26) from the field, including 60% (9-15) from 3-point
CHIOTTI, LOBOS APPEAR IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS - It's only three games, but Lobo sophomore David Chiotti (San Jose, Calif.) is the nation's most accurate shooter through games of Dec. 1. The 6-9 post player has made 20 of 24 shots from the floor, or 83%. Chiotti leads UNM in scoring at 20 points a game. In 28 games last season, Chiotti scored a total of 110 points, an average of 3.9 a game.
As a team, New Mexico is 2nd in the nation in 3-pointers made, averaging 11.7 a game. Troy State is 1st at an unbelievable 57 made, or 19 a game. The Lobos are also 3rd in the NCAA in 3-point accuracy, making 48% (35-73) of their tries. Utah State is 1st at 54.5% (18-33), followed by LSU at 48% (24-50).
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 95-108, 12-19 at New Mexico. McKay is 8-8 in non-conference games while at UNM, 8-5 at The Pit, 0-3 on the road.
While at Mountain West Conference member Colorado State, McKay led the Colorado State Rams to the NIT in 1999. McKay is 0-2 in his career against the Aggies.