Lobos Face Aztecs Monday In San Diego
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/01/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 1, 2004

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The University of New Mexico completes its two-game road trip Monday evening, visiting San Diego State. The Lobos and Aztecs square off at 8:06 p.m. Mountain Time from Cox Arena in San Diego. SportsWest will originate the telecast with local viewing on KRQE-TV. The game will also be available through ESPN's Full Court package.

New Mexico is 11-7 overall and 2-3 in the MWC after falling short 89-80 at UNLV on Saturday. Senior guard Javin Tindall set an MWC record in that game by making nine 3-pointers. The Lobos are 9-4 after a 2-3 start.

With at least 10 games remaining in the season, UNM has surpassed its win total from last year when it finished 10-18. New Mexico is 11-3 in The Pit so far, and has won nine of 10. The Lobos were 10-7 at home last year.

The Lobos will try Monday to end a road losing streak that has reached 21 straight overall, 22 consecutive including neutral sites and 14 MWC games in a row. The last win away from Albuquerque was Jan. 28, 2002, a 70-64 decision at Colorado State. It's UNM's longest losing skid away from home in more than 40 years. New Mexico has lost two in a row in San Diego.

San Diego State is 11-9 overall and also 2-3 in MWC play following a 57-43 home loss to Air Force. The for-real Falcons held the Aztecs 32 points below their MWC-leading average of 75.7 points a game. SDSU has lost three in a row.

The Aztecs boast one of the nation's top freshmen in guard Brandon Heath and one of the league's most improved players in senior forward Aerick Sanders. Heath, despite being held scoreless by Air Force Saturday, is averaging a team-best 16.8 points. Sanders is averaging 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds this season after just 6.1 points and 7.6 rebounds a year ago. Missouri transfer Wesley Stokes is among the nation's leaders in assists, averaging 6.4 a game.

Danny Granger is averaging 21.1 points and 9.8 rebounds since becoming eligible on Dec. 21. Granger, who is averaging 22.4 ppg in five MWC contests, has posted five double-doubles in his 12 games.

UNM has had a full roster the past 12 games - since Dec. 21 - when Granger (Bradley) and Troy DeVries (Portland State) became eligible as mid-season transfers. UNM is 8-4 since their arrival. Granger (21.1) and DeVries (12.8) are the team's top-two scorers since taking the court. 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 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and a team-leading 3.9 assists, including 12 dishes against Coppin State, the best total by a Lobo in 12 years. He is shooting 44% (34-77) from 3-point, an average of 2.8 treys a game.

LOBOS VS. SAN DIEGO STATE - New Mexico has a 31-20 lead in the series that started Jan. 2, 1976. UNM had won 10 straight and 18 of the past 19 prior to the 2001-02 season, however, the Aztecs have won three of the past four, including two consecutive in San Diego.

The Lobos lost the first nine games played in San Diego between 1976-86, but are 9-6 on the Aztecs' home floor since. New Mexico has a 5-3 advantage in MWC games and leads 3-2 at Cox Arena. UNM has won 17 of the past 18 encounters in The Pit.

Last year in San Diego: Freshman Evan Burns came off the bench to score 31 points and haul down 13 rebounds and Tony Bland keyed an early second-half run as San Diego State pulled away from New Mexico for an 89-73 victory.

Ruben Douglas tied his career-high with 43 points, including 15-of-16 from the foul line. His scoring total is the most ever by a Lobo player in a road game, eclipsing Willie Long's 41 points at BYU on Jan. 29, 1970. Douglas' monster game also included a career-high 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

The Lobos trailed just 36-30 at halftime, but Bland caught fire after a sluggish first half. After just two points in the first period, Bland scored 15 points in the first seven minutes of the second period as SDSU built a 60-42 lead. The Aztecs hit seven of their first nine field goals after the break to pull away. Bland finished with 21 points.

SDSU shot 56% (34-61) for the game, including a blazing 68% (19-28) in the second half. The Aztecs came into the contest shooting just 36% from 3-point, but connected on 50% (9-18). San Diego State also had a 38-25 rebounding edge.

Last year in Albuquerque: The Lobos withstood a late San Diego State rally and got a career-high 17 points from Javin Tindall to earn their first conference victory, 66-62. The Aztecs whittled a 13-point Lobo lead to one with 46 seconds to play, but a breakaway layup by Mark Walters and his subsequent interception of a San Diego State inbounds pass sealed the victory for UNM.

Tindall, who was 5-of-6 on 3-point attempts, wasn't the only Lobo to come up big. Ruben Douglas narrowly missed a double-double, scoring 21 points and hauling down a team-high nine rebounds. Also in double figures was Jamaal Williams, who pitched in 13 points and seven rebounds.

The Lobos led for much of the first half, losing the lead momentarily at 14-13, but quickly regaining it. They bumped up the margin to 28-19 with more than four minutes to play before halftime and held a 37-30 advantage at the break.

The resilient Aztecs cut the lead to five at 37-32 in the second half but the Lobos kept pace, getting key 3-pointers from Tindall to take a 13-point lead at 59-46 with just under nine minutes to play. San Diego State then went on a 10-1 burst over the next 4:48 to again cut the deficit to 60-58. A timely three by Tindall made the score 63-58 but the Aztecs countered with four straight points to close the margin to 63-62 with 46.1 seconds remaining.

The Aztecs had a chance to take the lead, after an Evan Burns steal of a David Chiotti-to-Ryan Ashcraft pass. But on their possession, Mackell tried to find Burns underneath and the pass bounced off Burns' hands and out of bounds with 5.7 ticks left.

As the Aztecs tried to prevent Douglas from receiving the inbounds pass, Ashcraft found a streaking Walters down the floor for an easy layup, giving UNM a 65-62 advantage with 3.3 seconds to go. Walters then stole a two-thirds court pass intended for Burns, and sank one of two free throws with one tick left to put the game away.

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 104-114, 21-25 at New Mexico. McKay is 6-13 in conference games while at UNM, 6-4 at The Pit, 0-9 on the road. He is 3-1 in his career against San Diego State, 1-1 in San Diego.

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

UNLV RECAP / NOTES - The hole was just too deep for the Lobos to climb out of in the 89-80 loss at UNLV. Trying to rally from a 20-point first-half deficit, UNM cut the margin to five early in the second half, then six in the closing minutes, but it was not enough despite a record-tying performance by senior guard Javin Tindall.

Tindall made nine 3-pointers (in 11 attempts and he made his first 6) to tie the UNM and Mountain West Conference record, however, it is a new school and league standard for 3s made in a conference game. The Lobos' Ruben Douglas made nine against Pacific on Nov. 23, 2001, while Colorado State's Aki Palmer drained nine at Michigan on Jan. 2, 2000. Douglas held the previous record in an MWC game, eight against UNLV on Jan. 27, 2003.

Tindall finished with 27 points to tie a career scoring high set on two other occasions, the last time earlier this year against Texas Tech. In his first three road games of the season, Tindall had scored just 15 total points (5 ppg) on 4-26 FGs and 2-18 from 3-point. He had scored just 24 points in the past four games overall before his outburst. Tindall also added five assists before fouling out with 18.4 seconds left.

A first-half shooting clinic propelled the Rebels to a 50-34 lead at the break. UNLV shot 72% (18-25) from the floor in the first period, including 70% (7-10) from beyond the arc. The Rebels came into the game shooting just 31% from 3-point.

New Mexico took a 13-10 lead on Tindall's third straight 3-pointer, but the Runnin' Rebels scored from inside and out, posting runs of 16-5 and 14-2 to take a 40-22 advantage. The lead grew to 45-25 late in the first period.

The Lobos clawed back from that 20-point hole, cutting the deficit to five on two occasions early in the second half. Three straight 3s to open the second period sparked a 14-3 run as UNM trailed just 53-48.

After UNLV went back in front 80-66, UNM threatened again as Tindall nailed treys to pare the margin to six twice, the last time 86-80 with 23.5 seconds left.

The Lobos' chances were severely hampered early on due to Danny Granger's foul problems. Granger, averaging 25 points in the first four MWC games, was held to two points in 11 first-half minutes. He picked up his third foul - a charge - with 5:25 left before halftime. Granger finished with a season-low 12 points on 4 of 12 shooting.

UNM canned 14 of 30 shots from 3-point, but gave up its most points of the season. David Chiotti added 19 points, his best total in an MWC game and his highest point total in 13 games, since 24 points against Sacramento State. Troy DeVries had 14, but was just 2 of 9 from beyond the arc.

* UNLV shot 59.2% (29-49) from the floor, making the Rebels the third MWC opponent in five games to shoot at least 55% against UNM...the Lobos are allowing an unsettling 51.6% accuracy in MWC games, including 42% (39-92) from 3-point range

* UNM came into the game 3rd in the MWC in scoring defense at 63 ppg, meaning UNLV topped that by 26 points...the Lobos gave up their most points in a half (50) and a game (89) this season

* The 14 3-pointers tie for the second-highest total by a Lobo team in a road game...UNM made 16 in a 79-72 victory at UTEP on Jan. 29, 1994, and it drilled 14 at Air Force on Jan. 8, 1994, an 80-54 triumph

* New Mexico teams had been 65-14 all-time (6-1 this year) when making at least 10 3s in a game

* After just 13 total turnovers in wins last week against Utah and BYU, the Lobos committed 16 against the Rebels and they hurt...UNLV had a 26-11 scoring edge in points off turnovers

* The Lobos lost despite winning the rebound battle, 37-28, including a decisive 17-7 edge on the offensive end...strange as it may be, UNM had just eight total offensive boards last week in wins over Utah (3) and BYU (5)

* Granger played just 27 minutes, his fewest since 16 in a blowout win against Northwestern State

* UNM is now 9-2 in games decided by 10 points or more, 2-5 when the margin is under double figures

* New Mexico is 11-2 when it leads at the break, 0-5 when it trails at halftime

* The Lobos had been 5-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points in a game