Feb. 17, 2010
Wednesday: Lobos 83, Wyoming 61
Saturday: Air Force at Lobos, 1:30 p.m., The Pit.
On The Air: The Mtn.; 770-AM KKOB
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Basketball games usually aren't decided in the first minute and four seconds. Not usually. But maybe in the one played Wednesday night in The Pit between Lobos and Wyoming you could say the Cowboys were "Gone in 64 Seconds."
It's not that the score at that time stamped out the final 83-61 New Mexico win. The Lobos' lead was only 4-0 at the 18:56 mark when Wyoming burned a 30-second timeout. And it was a good timeout -- smart, necessary.
In that first 64 seconds, the Cowboys had two turnovers and Lobo Darington Hobson had two layups and a pattern was being formed. Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer decided to see if he could break that pattern before it became a permanent stamp on the game and on his Cowboys.
He tried. It was a good thought. It didn't work.
The Cowboys came out of their huddle and had a shot blocked, turned one over, threw up an air ball, turned it over again and watched UNM score four more points.
The Cowboys then turned it over again, watched Roman Martinez drain a trey, turned it over again (charge) and stumbled into the first media timeout down 11-0.
The clock had burned down to only 15:34, but the Cowboys already were toasted. The pattern had been permanently stamped. The Cowboys didn't know it yet, but they had been de-saddled. "Coach wanted us to go out in the first four minutes and play tough and we did," said senior Roman Martinez.
The two Mountain West teams played another 45 minutes more or less as a formality to the eventual 22-point Lobo win. It was Lobo coach Steve Alford's 300th D-I win. He has 70 as a Lobo.
"It shows how dedicated he is to winning," said Hobson, who had another monster game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals. "He's a winner and he's been winning since before I was born."
Said Martinez: "He's a great coach, a great leader on and off the court and he deserves everything he can get."
Alford got a lot Wednesday night in the sold out Pit of 14,586, and he got it from every Lobo. All 10 Lobos played at least nine minutes. Hobson was joined in double figures by Phillip McDonald with 14 points and Martinez with 13 points. UNM, ranked No. 12/15, is 24-3 on the season and 10-2 in the Mountain West.
"I was just having fun with the game," said Hobson. "It was important for us to come out and get better, not necessarily put down a hammer. We just wanted to come out and keep playing with a chip on our shoulder because we haven't done anything yet.
"That's the way basketball should be played. It's fun. That's my way of playing."
That's also the way a Top 15 team should use its home court to pound a bottom-rung conference team. It was decisive, if not always pretty. It was flashy, if not always fundamental. It was always pretty much fun.
They Lobos had found a plaything on this night, more than an opponent. So, the Lobos played a bit.
"We got a little sloppy," said Alford. "That's easy to do when you get up (by 30). These are always fun games when you can get everybody in.
"I really appreciate the crowd. I appreciate what our fans do. They wear red. They get after it."
The Lobos came out of their 37-20 halftime lead and raced up 44-22 when Martinez slid in front of a Wyoming in-bounds pass, made the pick and laid it in. The Pit went nuts. McDonald made it 47-23 on a breakaway layup plus a foul shot.
Hobson backed that with a coast-to-coast, rebound to sky-high finger roll that dropped. UNM soared to a 61-32 lead on back-to-back Fenton assists. The first went to A.J. Hardeman in the lane for a dunk. The second was a lob to Hobson for a dunk. Wyoming burned a timeout at 12:30, probably hoping to put some focus in a defense that was being tattered by talented Lobos.
It helped a little. At the 3:58 media break, UNM was up 74-49 -- 25 points. At the 2:13 mark, it was 77-57.
"We just do what we do and our defense is getting better," said Alford. "We share the basketball. We don't care who gets what."
First Half -- Lobos 37, Wyoming 20
The Lobos pounded the 'Pokes inside. The Lobos rained treys out of the sky. The Lobos scored out of transition. And everything considered, they threw out focused defense for most of the way to the locker room. In some ways, the Lobos' early lead was their worst enemy. They, at times, drifted away from fundamental stuff and went for home-run balls.
At the 7:48 mark of the first half, UNM was up 24-10, but matched Wyoming in the turnover column at 7-all. Wyoming's turnovers were there because of Lobo pressure. The Lobos created a few more turnovers, too -- their own.
No big deal. The game that went down to the wire in Laramie, a 70-68 UNM win, was a Pit romp.
Hobson got The Pit crowd of 14,586 rocking with a no-look, over the shoulder pass to McDonald for a layup. Wyoming coach Schroyer made it worse by pulling a technical foul from a ref. UNM was up 27-10 with 6:44 to go.
The Lobos coasted into halftime with a 37-20 lead. UNM had nine players in the scoring column. They were shooting a 43.3 percent. Wyoming was at 36 percent with five players in the scoring column. UNM had six treys to one for Wyoming.