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Post-Game Quotes Air Force vs.UNM
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/05/2011

March 5, 2011

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UNM Head Coach Steve Alford

Opening statement:

"This was a big night for us. We had to come off of a BYU win, which is never easy. When you come off of win like that it's hard to face a team like Air Force. Jeff (Reynolds) has done a tremendous job with them this year so we knew they were going to be a handful. I appreciate how our guys really battled. They hung in there during the first half and played great the second."

On how Jamal (Fenton) has been a lift for the team.

"He's been doing better. The way we've been playing for this last stretch has a lot to do with him. He's playing quick, he's knocking down shots, he's getting after it defensively and also doing a good job of penetrating and kicking the ball out because he can be very hard to defend."

How emotional was this night for you and Dairese (Gary)?

"I had to give the mic up, because you can't keep thinking about what he means and all that he's done for this program. When time goes by fast it's because you're having fun. This has been a lot of fun.

"It has been great to see what he's done. Four years ago we were in last place in the conference. He gets here and he finishes third (in conference),first, first and fifth. He's been in postseason play all four years. The things he's done for us from locker room talks to practice, our guys are really going to miss him. He's laid a blueprint for what we want this program to be about. "

Do you feel that you're playing some of your best basketball going into the conference tournament?

"I think we're playing really good basketball. We were without Tony (Snell) tonight so that left us without a shooter. That affected us because at Air Force we played with four guards, sometimes five. They did that tonight and we couldn't do that because we were without him. Hopefully he'll be back for the tournament."

UNM - Air Force Post-Game Player Quotes 3/5/2011 Jamal Fenton On his 3-pointer and steal that led to a basket in the first half "I saw that we were a little low on energy and my job this year has been to be a spark of the bench, like Coach Alford always says. Because Tony (Snell) was on the bench, somebody had to pick up his points. God blessed me to be able to get that." On the emotions of this game "We didn't have to even get amped up for this game. It was Dairese's senior night and he's a big leader for us so we were ready to play hard for it, for him and for his last night in The Pit." On the team's momentum going into the MWC Tournament "We're on a three-game winning streak, and with the way Dairese played tonight, I think we'll build from that." On the MWC Tournament first-round game with Colorado State " We'll play as a team and put forth a better effort than we did last time when we were at their house. We owe them one and we're going to go out there and play with all of our heart." On the game with Colorado State being on a neutral court "I think that will help because we'll probably have more fan support than they will and we like that."

On having to prepare emotionally and mentally for this game after such a big win on the road against BYU on Wednesday "It's very difficult. You can see it all over the country. You can beat a top-ranked team and then you come back and try to play a game and end up getting beat by 20 points. It was just a matter of us learning how to beat big teams and then come back and get another win. That's what we're going to have to do in postseason. Winning this close game today was big. It was a test for us; Coach put it on the board. Playing Air Force is always tough, but we still came out with the win."

Was this night anything like how you thought it would be?

"It was crazy. Watching Ro (Roman Martinez) last year in his last game... You have to get a win on your senior night. Air Force was up at the half so that was kind of stressful, but at the same time my teammates were in it and we came out with the win. Afterwards it was an amazing feeling."

On Drew Gordon's effort in the paint

"Drew gives his all. He's a big guy and we love having him on our team. He takes up a lot of space. We need him to be big and pull down rebounds. That is what he has been doing."

On Jamal Fenton's clutch play and how it makes him feel about graduating from the program

"We have some great players that are coming up and that have been here for a while. I think the program is going to be fine, especially with a coach like coach Alford. He always gets his teams ready to play and he always has good players. When you see Jamal come out like that, it's nothing new. He does that in practice, he did that last year and I believe he'll do that until he graduates."

On A.J. Hardeman's play and having both him and Gordon

"I think having two big, athletic guys down there really helps. It helps our high-low game and our offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds with those two in the game. It makes it easier on the guards, especially when you're on defense and you get beat, you have shot blockers down there. We don't have to go in there and get beat up trying to get rebounds because we have two beasts under there. I think they're going to help us out a lot in the postseason."

On the upcoming game with Colorado State

"We're looking forward to playing them. Last time we didn't put a whole game together. We played a good 20 minutes and it came down the stretch and they beat us. We're looking forward to playing them. We've been putting whole games together so we'll see what happens on Thursday."

On his conversation with Roman (Martinez)

"He told me to live all this up. He said you get one senior night and it's your last game in The Pit. He made some jokes about me speaking afterwards. He spooked me a little bit, but it was all laughs. He just told me to get the win."

Air Force Head Coach Jeff Reynolds

On the final seconds of the game

"We ran the play and got the shot we wanted. We knew that Tom (Fow) and Derek (Brooks) have been shooting it really well. We certainly didn't want to be in that situation. I thought we played well enough defensively to win the game. We held them to thirty nine percent (shooting)."

Overall thoughts on the game

"We missed some threes and missed some front end of one-and-ones that could have stopped their runs. Our kids played well enough to win the game, defensively and offensively. We only had nine turnovers and I don't know how many of those were called charges.

I think our team is getting better. We are a group of guys that play their hearts out. They did today. I thought we, for the most part, were able to do what we wanted to do and now we have just as big of a challenge. This is a tough place to play. The physicality of the game was enormous. It's hard for our kids because they played so hard. "

On the progression of the team during the season and the upcoming tournament

"Every year that our staff has been there, last year as well, we have gotten better. I think that's a tribute to our kids. They are resilient. They could have lost their poise today, but we didn't. They have a nice basketball team. They are capable of running the table and winning the league and winning the tournament."

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