Stevens: A Deep Tide Of Lobos Wash Over NMSU Aggies 78-62
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/11/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Dec. 11, 2010

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Lobo Men's Basketball - In The Pit
Saturday: Lobos 78, New Mexico State 62
Up Next: Longwood at Lobos, Dec. 17, The Pit

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

There are no oceans in New Mexico, but there was a high tide of relentless Lobos pounding away on New Mexico State Aggies, who eventually crumbled like a sand castle before a giant wave.

"I thought our depth wore them down again," said Lobo coach Steve Alford after UNM's 78-62 win Saturday night in The Pit that handed UNM another season sweep of NMSU.

"It feels good," said Lobo Dairese Gary, who had 16 points and eight assists. "This is the last time I play them in The Pit and it's a big-time win for us."

The score was a bit deceiving and also pretty accurate. The Aggies sustained several tidal waves of Pit emotion and Lobo dunks to take a 46-45 lead at the 15:23 mark of the second half. Then the wave of Lobos wore the Aggies down. At the 12:25 mark, UNM was up 58-46 behind a 13-0 run.

"If we had lost this game, coach wouldn't have been too happy," said Gary.

Alford said a point of emphasis in the return match was not to allow the Aggies to hammer UNM for 25 offensive boards like the Aggies did in UNM's 84-78 overtime win in Las Cruces. Alford said those numbers "embarrassed" his Lobos and they don't like to be embarrassed.

"They pretty much beat us up on the boards bad (in Cruces) and we talked about it a lot," said Gary. "We put bodies on people and went and got the ball."

A huge stat Saturday in The Pit was UNM ruling the glass 48-31. NMSU won that board battle by five in Cruces. "We did a really good job on the boards tonight," said Lobo freshman Kendal Williams.

Said Emmanuel Negedu, who led UNM with 10 rebounds: "We're an athletic team and should be able to outrebound other teams."

The Lobos had four players in double figures as Kendall Williams (15), Phillip McDonald (10) and A.J. Hardeman (10) joined Gary. Negedu had nine points to go with his 10 boards. UNM got points and rebounds from 10 Lobos.

The Lobos shot 47.6 percent from the floor to 36 percent for NMSU. Another huge stat for UNM was holding NMSU to 25 percent shooting in the second 20 minutes.

Neither team was sizzling from 3-point range with UNM hitting 23.8 percent (5-21) and NMSU 25 percent (5-20). The Aggies got 21 points from Christian Kabongo and 14 points and 17 boards from Hamidu Rahman. "He's a load inside," Alford said of Rahman.

NMSU played without their leading scorer in the second half, Troy Gillenwater, who left the first half after eight minutes of play due to a leg injury.

The win pushed UNM's season mark to 7-1. The Aggies fall to 2-7 going into a five-game home stand.

"To be seven-and-one and get two wins over State is a big thing for us," said Alford."

Second Half: Lobos 37, NMSU 26

The pace to start the second half was a tad slower than the way the first half ended. At the 15:39 break, the Aggies had cut UNM's lead to 45-42. Alford got popped with a technical foul after stomping a foot on the sideline after Rahman bumped into McDonald on the edge, but no foul was called. Castillo made one of the free shots.

The Lobos then threatened to drift away again, like they had several times in the first half. The Aggies were up 46-45 when UNM threw out a 9-0 run that forced NMSU into a timeout, down 54-46. UNM got a follow bucket inside from Hardeman and a breakaway layup from Williams to go up 49-46. Williams then got a steal, missed a long layup, but McDonald followed with a dunk. A Gary trey forced the timeout at 13:06 - UNM up 54-46.

Gary made it 58-46 on a long drive that ended with him shielding a layup with his strong frame. UNM carried that 12-point bulge into the 11:55 media break. The Lobos, who had no players in double figures at the half, now had three players in double digits: Williams 13, Gary 10, Hardeman 10. The Lobos still owned the boards, 33-24. It was a key stretch for NMSU. They could not afford to let the Lobos' extend that gap.

The Lobos did extend it. The Aggies lost the ball on a Negedu miss at the line. That led to a Fenton trey and a 64-51 UNM lead. An Aggie air ball led to UNM's Cameron Bairstow getting a tip on a Tony Snell missed trey. UNM was up 66-51. That fat 15-point lead held up going into a break at 7:04.

The Lobos ended it by the 2:59 break. Negedu banged in two free throws to make it 68-51. Gary drove to make it 70-51. A Bairstow tip followed by a six-foot Williams' jumper off a Gary pass handed UNM a 74-53 lead. UNM was up 74-56 at the 2:59 break. The Lobos cruised to their seventh win of the young season.

First Half - Lobos 41, New Mexico State 36
Stat Leaders: Williams 9 pts., Hardeman 8 pts., Gary 4 assts.

The Lobos had a couple of dunk-fueled scoring runs and threatened to separate themselves from the Aggies by more than the 41-36 halftime score. The Aggies did a good job surviving those runs, especially a Pit dunk fest that put UNM up 36-25 and got The Pit rocking.

The Lobos went into the half with no players in double figures, but UNM had nine players in the scoring column. UNM also had an all-important 23-16 edge on the boards. The Lobos scored 14 points off Aggie turnovers while giving up only four Aggie points the same way. The Lobos' also had an edge in shooting percentage, 47.1 percent to 46.2 percent for NMSU.

The Aggies had 13 points from Kabongo and nine points and 11 boards from Rahman. It was intense and athletic from the get-go. The Aggies came at the Lobos hard and got the same back. At the 15:23 mark, the Aggies were up 11-9 shooting 4-of-7 from the floor and actually taking good shots.

The Lobos had four points inside from Hardeman and a trey off the left wing from Williams. At the 11:53 break, the Aggies were still up by two points: 13-11.

A.J. Hardeman -- 10 points

The Lobos then rolled out a five-point run and an 18-13 lead. Snell banged in a trey to make it 16-13 and Fenton came up with a steal and led a fast-breaking Negedu, who was fouled on a dunk. He made both free throws to form the 18-13 lead. The Aggies came back to tie it 18-all on a 3-pointer by Gillenwater followed by a 14-foot jumper by Kabongo.

Then the Lobos exploded and so did The Pit. The Lobos got a breakaway ESPN-highlight dunk from Negedu, followed by a tip dunk by Hardeman, followed by a Williams' breakaway dunk. The 25-18 score convinced the Aggies to call and time out in hope of quieting the Lobos and The Pit.

The Aggies did OK with the timeout and went into the 6:52 media break down 28-25 to the home team.

The Lobos went up 30-25 on a Hardeman dunk off a clean Gary pass. Another Gary pass gave McDonald a reverse, breakaway dunk. UNM went up 11 points, 36-25, on a coast-to-coast drive by Chad Adams.

At the 3:52 break, UNM was up 36-29. The Lobos were shooting 50 percent at that point to the Aggies' 43.5 percent. UNM was up on the board work, 17-12. The Lobos' edge was scoring 10 points off turnovers and their shooting touch was aided by their dunks.

The Aggies cut into that lead by two points going into halftime, 41-36. NMSU took a blow on offense when Gillenwater went to the bench with a leg injury, played only eight minutes in the first half, and did not play the rest of the game.