Dec. 30, 2007
New Mexico closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule Wednesday with a road game at long-time rival UTEP. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso. There is no television for the game, but live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.
The Lobos and Miners square off for the 139th time, making it UNM's second-oldest series next to New Mexico State, which stands at 200 games. New Mexico has a 74-64 lead since the first game was played on Feb. 21, 1929. The Lobos won that encounter 46-27 in El Paso.
UTEP dealt UNM an 87-63 loss last year in El Paso. It's New Mexico's largest loss to the Miners since an 89-57 decision in the 1989 Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Salt Lake City, and the widest margin in El Paso since 1950 when UTEP won 69-41.
New Mexico is 12-2 after a 79-69 victory at Hawai'i last Thursday. UNM is 12-2 for only the second time in the past seven seasons. The 2004-05 squad led by Danny Granger started 14-2.
After going 1-10 in true road games last year, New Mexico is 2-2 away from The Pit this season. The other win came at Colorado, the losses at Ole Miss and New Mexico State.
UTEP improved to 9-2 Saturday after a 104-61 road win at Texas Southern. The Miners are a perfect 6-0 at the Don Haskins Center this season.
UTEP is paced by high-scoring junior guard Stephon Jackson, who is averaging 25.5 points a game. Jackson went for 25 points in last year's victory over UNM in El Paso.
The UTEP game is the second of three straight road games for UNM. The Lobos' Mountain West Conference opener is Saturday (Jan. 5) at Wyoming.
New Mexico is away from The Pit for nearly three weeks. The last home game was Dec. 23 against Weber State while the next home tilt is Saturday, Jan. 12 against San Diego State. That is Pack The Pit night with all tickets available for just $10. BUS TRIP TO UTEP
Bring in the New Year in with a blast and travel with the Lobo Club to cheer on the men's basketball teamat UTEP.
Bustransportation leaves from the UNM athletics department at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2 and returns immediately after the game. The cost is $55 per person, which includes a game ticket. There will be a stop for dinner on your own inEl Paso.
Space is limited so call 925-5014or go on-line to www.unmloboclub.org and click on events to reserve your spot.
Alford is 320-185 (63%) into his 17th season. His teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, produced 13 winning seasons and reached 20 wins on eight occasions.
This is Alford's first game against UTEP.
In eight seasons at Iowa, Alford compiled a 152-106 record with a school-record seven consecutive winning seasons, and six postseason appearances. The Hawkeyes won two Big Ten Conference tournament titles (2001 and `06). Iowa was 17-14 in 2006-07. It was 9-7 in the Big Ten, tied with NCAA teams Illinois and Purdue for fourth place.
Prior to Iowa, Alford posted a 78-29 record in four seasons (1992-95) at NCAA Division III Manchester (Ind.) College and a four-year (1996-99) record of 78-48 at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). The Bears defeated Wisconsin and Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 1999 NCAA Tournament before losing to top-ranked Duke in the regional semifinals. In 1997 Alford led the Bears to a 24-9 record (second in the Missouri Valley Conference) and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament.
In somewhat of a rarity, Alford has never been anything but a head coach at the collegiate level. His first position came at Manchester at the age of 27.
MARTINEZ GOING HOME
New Mexico sophomore Roman (row-MAHN) Martinez will be playing in front of family and friends Wednesday night. The El Paso native graduated from Montwood HS in the spring of 2006.
THE NEW MEXICO-UTEP SERIES
New Mexico has a 74-64 lead in the series. UTEP has a 40-26 margin in El Paso, including 16-10 in the Don Haskins Center. UNM has lost three in a row on the Miners' home floor. The last win in El Paso was 76-69 on Jan. 24, 1998 when both schools were in the WAC.
The Lobos and Miners played every year from 1955-99. As members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1967-99, the two schools met 66 times with UNM holding a slight 34-32 lead. UTEP is in its third season of competition in Conference USA.
LAST YEAR IN EL PASO
Stefon Jackson scored 25 points and UTEP's 3-point shooters punched early holes in New Mexico's zone defense in the Miners' 87-63 win.
UTEP hit six 3-pointers in the first half as New Mexico stayed in the zone and steadily fell behind the scrappy Miners. UTEP hit just one 3-pointer in the second half, but by then the Miners were safely in front.
Jeremy Sampson hit 7-of-9 shots and added 15 points for the Miners. Sampson's nine rebounds led UTEP to a 44-28 edge on the boards.
J.R. Giddens, who scored 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting, led a brief second-half rally that trimmed a 19-point UTEP lead to 61-47 with just over 12 minutes left. Miners guard Marvin Kilgore halted the run with a left-handed dunk after intercepting a Giddens pass.
Giddens came in averaging 20.4 points a game and sporting a plastic mask to protect his nose, which caught an elbow in the Lobos' 79-76 win over New Mexico State.
With the mask on, Giddens hit just 2 of 10 shots in the first half. He played without the mask in the second half, and for a while found his shot, hitting four of his first five after the break.
Five Miners hit 3-pointers in the first half, three of them in a 17-5 run that turned a 15-13 UTEP lead into a 32-18 cushion with 8:07 left in the opening period.
UTEP's shooters cooled off in the second half, hitting 10 of 28 shots. But it didn't matter after the Miners hit 19 of 35 shots in the first half and 6-of-11 from 3-point range.
Tony Danridge, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, and Giddens' second half scoring carried the Lobos' offense. On 3-pointers the Lobos were 5-of 23.
SEASON NO. 105
The 2007-08 season is the 105th in school history. The Lobos first laced up the hightops on Feb. 2, 1900, when they lost 8-6 to the Albuquerque Guards. While this season is actually the 106th anniversary of that inaugural year, UNM did not field a team for various reasons in 1900-01, 1903-04, 1917-18 and 1920-21.
The Lobos have been on the hardwoods continuously since the 1921-22 season and have compiled an all-time record of 1,276-999 (.560). New Mexico was 420-498 (.457) from 1900-62, but has gone 856-501 (.630) over the past 44-plus seasons, an average of nearly 19 wins per year.
The Lobos have made 27 trips to the postseason during that span, including 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and 16 showings in the NIT.
Lobo senior Tony Danridge suffered a broken left fibula during a game with teammates on Oct. 4. He had surgery on Oct. 8 and is expected to miss three months. Danridge, a 6-5 senior from San Bernardino, Calif., posted 12.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season and was named 3rd team All-MWC. He is the only Lobo to play in all 95 games over the past three seasons, not missing a game to this point in his Lobo career. He does have a redshirt year available.
HAWAI'I RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
Daniel Faris scored 21 points and J.R. Giddens added 17 as New Mexico defeated Hawaii 79-69 Thursday night. Dairese Gary finished with 12 points and Roman Martinez added 11 for New Mexico, which held off two late rallies by Hawaii.
Hawaii cut a 10-point halftime deficit to 62-59 on Bobby Nash's 3-pointer with 3:36 left in the game. New Mexico then scored four points on the next possession.
Monquel Pegues made his first free throw attempt, but missed the second. Giddens rebounded the miss and was fouled on his putback. He converted the free throw to complete the 3-point play and put the Lobos ahead 66-59.
Gary then made a layup off a steal on the next possession to give the Lobos a 68-59 lead with 2:43 left.
The Rainbow Warriors mounted another late rally, cutting the deficit to 70-67 on Nash's 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining. But the Lobos scored the next seven points to close out the game. Matt Gibson led Hawaii with 19 points and Nash had 18. Riley Luettgerodt added 11 points.
Hawaii led 11-4 in the game's opening minutes, but New Mexico rallied to take the lead for good at 16-15 on a basket by Faris with 8:48 remaining.
After Hawaii closed to 26-24 on a basket by Luettgerodt with four minutes left in the first half, New Mexico scored eight straight points to lead 34-24. The Lobos led 38-28 at halftime.
Junior Daniel Faris
Senior J.R. Giddens
Freshman Dairese Gary
Junior Chad Toppert
NON-CONFERENCE STREAK IN THE PIT
The Lobos have won 31 consecutive non-conference home games, and 47 of the past 48. the last loss was 81-64 to 5th-ranked Wake Forest on Dec. 22, 2004.
BIG-TIME DEFENSE AGAINST WEBER STATE
New Mexico side-swiped Weber State 62-32 at home on Dec. 23. The 32 points ties for the fewest by a Lobo opponent in The Pit, which opened in December of 1966. UNM beat BYU 74-32 on Feb. 3, 1997.
It also ties for the fewest points allowed by a Steve Alford-coached team during his 17-year coaching career. On March 12, 1999, Alford's Southwest Missouri State squad beat Wisconsin 43-32 in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte N.C.
It was 34-12 UNM at halftime. The 12 points are the fewest by a UNM opponent in the first half since Dec. 29, 1972, when the Lobos had a 40-9 halftime lead over Dartmouth.
HOLDING DOWN THE BIG GUNS
In consecutive games against San Diego and Texas Tech, New Mexico really put the clamps on the opponents' top scorers:
IT'S A REAL T.E.A.M.
Some pretty interesting facts about the 10-man Lobos team through the first 14 games of the season:
And, since everyone plays the Lobo bench has made huge contributions. The reserves contributed 49 points in the 86-58 win over Loyola Marymount, including 19 of the first 23 and 26 of 43 in the first half.
UNM's reserves have scored 41.4% (434 of 1,047) of the points and pulled down 41.7% (189 of 453) of the individual rebounds this season. That's averages of 31 points and 13.5 rebounds a game.
FREE THROWS IMPROVING
The Lobos opened the season by shooting a chilly 60.4% from the free-throw line in the first 6 games. The past 8 contests, the accuracy is 72.6% (127-175), raising the season percentage to 67.8%.
3-POINT RECORD FALLS
The Lobos' 81.8% (9-11) accuracy from 3-point against Texas Tech is a school record and it tied the Mountain West Conference record (San Diego State - Dec. 15, 2006). The previous UNM record was 72.2% (13-18) vs. San Francisco State in 2003.
Toppert leads the league and is 10th nationally in 3-point shooting this season at 50% (37-74). He's made 19 of 34 (56%) the past 7 games after an 0 for 6 performance against Southern Utah.
IT'S A FIRST FOR LOBO HOOPS
For the first time since the 3-point shot was introduced into college basketball before the 1986-87 season, UNM canned at least 13 3-pointers in three straight games. The historic feat came during the Basketball Travelers Invitational when the Lobos were 13 of 28 against Presbyterian, 13 of 28 against St. Bonaventure and 13 of 26 against Loyola Marymount. That's a 47.6% clip for the 3-game tournament.
MORE ON THE 3s
Before the 3-for-24 performance from long range against Southern Utah, the Lobos were among the nation's early leaders in 3-point shooting. However, they still lead the league in 3s per game at 8.4 and in accuracy at 43.5%.
3s AND COUNTING
UNM has made a 3-pointer in 562 straight games, the 12th-longest active streak in NCAA Div. I. UNLV is 1st at more than 660 games. The last time UNM failed to connect from long range was Jan. 3, 1991, missing on 8 attempts against Colorado State in The Pit.
The 28 assists in the 92-57 win over Eastern Washington is UNM's highest total in 10 years, since it had 32 in a 112-61 victory over Holy Cross on Dec. 29, 1997.
The Lobos are averaging 16.9 assists a game compared to 15.1 in 2006-07.