Jan. 17, 2008
New Mexico (14-4, 1-2 MWC) looks to start another winning streak Saturday afternoon when Air Force (10-6, 2-1 MWC) comes to town. Tipoff is 4:05 from The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque.
The game can be seen live on The Mtn. with Rich Cellini and Joe Cravens, plus live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.
Game sponsors include Lovelace Health System, Kiss 97.3 and Coyote 102.5. The first 3,000 fans will receive Lobo foam paws courtesy of Lovelace Health System.
The Lobos are 14-4 overall and 1-2 in the MWC after suffering a numbing 74-72 loss at TCU on Tuesday. In command nearly the entire night and staked to a 48-30 lead three minutes into the second half, the Horned Frogs won it when former Lobo Ryan Wall drilled a baseline 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left. It was TCU's first lead since 8-6 and Wall's only points of the game. UNM has lost two in a row for the second time this season.
Air Force knocked off Wyoming 64-62 in overtime Wednesday in Laramie. The Falcons shot just 44% (22-50) for the game and 50% (7-14) from the FT line, but converted 13 of 27 attempts from 3-point. Air Force has won 5 of it last 7 after a 5-4 start.
NEW MEXICO-AIR FORCE SERIES
It's the 60th meeting and UNM has a 41-18 advantage, although Air Force has won 3 straight and 7 of the past 9. It's 9-7 Falcons in MWC games. UNM has lost 7 straight to Air Force at the Academy.
Last year at Air Force, UNM had a 21-point lead at 37-16 late in the first half only to have Air Force go on a 40-7 run for a 56-44 lead with 4:39 left in the game. It was 39-24 at halftime and 41-24 in New Mexico's favor after a Daniel Faris basket to start the second half. The Falcons then scored 21 straight points to take a 45-41 lead with 9:11 remaining as UNM went more than 10 minutes without scoring.
UNM-AIR FORCE: LAST YEAR IN THE PIT
Jacob Burtschi and Nick Welch combined for a rare four-point trip late in the game and No. 15 Air Force shook off a horrendous start to beat New Mexico 60-51. The Falcons missed nine of their first 10 shots, but consistently hit key shots in the second half.
Dan Nwaelele and Tim Anderson each scored 17 points for Air Force, but it was Burtschi and Welch who sealed the win with four points in a span of 2 seconds.
With Air Force ahead 48-45 after New Mexico's Roman Martinez scored on a short jumper, Burtschi banked in a shot and was fouled by Chad Toppert. Burtschi missed the free throw, but Welch slipped in to tip in the miss for a 52-45 Falcons lead with 2:38 left.
Anderson added two free throws with 40.8 seconds remaining, and free throws by Burtschi and Nwaelele pushed the lead to 58-48 with 15 seconds to go.
The Falcons had one field goal - a 3-pointer by Anderson - in the game's first 8 minutes and went scoreless over the final 4:06 of the first half. Still, they trailed just 23-19 at halftime.
New Mexico took a 19-9 lead with 6:31 left in the first half on a basket by Darren Prentice. Air Force then scored 10 straight points. Nwaelele hit a layup, Burtschi hit back-to-back 3s from the same spot at the top of the key and Anderson finished the run by slicing into the lane for a tough 5-footer that got a favorable roll. Giddens, with 10 points, was the only New Mexico player in double figures.
MORE ON THE FALCONS
Air Force, picked to finish 8th in the MWC this season, posted a 26-9 record last year, losing to Clemson in the NIT semifinals in New York. The Falcons were 10-6 in the MWC, tying San Diego State for 3rd place. Since the 2003-04 season, Air Force is 45-18 in MWC games, best in the league over that span.
New head coach Jeff Reynolds welcomed just one starter - senior Tim Anderson - from last year's squad. Reynolds, who was an assistant at the Academy the previous two season, posted an 82-34 record in one season at North Carolina Wesleyan College and three years at NCAA Division II Wingate College in Wingate, N.C.
Alford is 322-187 (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.
Alford is 1-0 in his career against Air Force, winning 73-63 at Iowa City on Dec. 28, 2004.
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.
UNM PREDICTED FOR 4TH-PLACE FINISH IN MOUNTAIN WEST
New Mexico and San Diego State were picked to finish in a tie fourth in the 2007-08 Mountain West Conference race during the league's preseason media gathering in Denver on October 17. Voters were a combination of head coaches and media. BYU was the favorite to win the league.
UNM ALL-TIME IN THE MWC
New Mexico has a 53-66 record in the Mountain West Conference, 39-20 in The Pit and 14-46 on the road. UNM is 8-38 in league road games since 2001.
NEW MEXICO LAST YEAR IN THE MWC
Picked to finish fifth in last year's MWC preseason poll, New Mexico finished 4-12, tying TCU for eighth - or last - place. UNM lost 12 conference games for the first time since 1959 when it finished 1-13 in the Skyline Conference.
UNM endured its fifth MWC losing record in the past seven seasons. The Lobos' only winning mark in league play since 2000 was 10-4 in 2005. UNM was 8-8 in 2005-06. New Mexico never had a losing league record from 1984-2000, a span of 17 seasons.
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 1,278-1,001 (.560). New Mexico was 420-498 (.457) from 1900-62, but has gone 858-503 (.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 likely out for the season. Danridge does have a redshirt year available. A 6-5 senior from San Bernardino, Calif., Danridge averaged 12.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season and was named 3rd team All-MWC. He was 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.
TCU RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
Ryan Wall hit a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining Tuesday night to give TCU a 74-72 victory over New Mexico.
Wall's shot from the corner gave the Horned Frogs their first lead since New Mexico went up 9-8 on a 3-pointer by Dairese Gary with 11:25 left in the first half. New Mexico led by as many as 18 early in the second half.
Jason Ebie tied the game for TCU at 59-59 on a 3-pointer with 5:20 left. But Chad Toppert responded with a 3-pointer of his own.
Brent Hackett hit a jumper with 18 seconds left to cut New Mexico's lead to 72-71 and Ebie got a steal, setting up Wall's only points of the night.
Kevin Langford and Henry Salter each scored 16 points for TCU. Langford got 11 of his 16 in the second half. John Ortiz and Hackett each had 13 for the Horned Frogs.
New Mexico led 41-28 at the half.
Senior Darren Prentice
Senior J.R. Giddens
Junior Daniel Faris
Sophomore Roman Martinez
Junior Chad Toppert
Freshman Dairese Gary
SOLID ON THE ROAD
After going 3-19 in true road games the past two seasons and being 8-43 in five years from 2003-07, UNM is a solid 4-3 this year. The Lobos actually won three in a row (at Hawai'i, UTEP, Wyoming) for the first time since 2000-01 (at New Mexico State, Gonzaga and San Diego State).
When the Lobos beat Wyoming 99-92 in double overtime on Jan. 5, they staged the largest second-half comeback in a road game in school history. UNM trailed the Cowboys 48-32 at halftime. It ranks as the 5th largest deficit overcome regardless of location. New Mexico's largest comeback was Jan. 15, 1993, at Hawai'i when it rallied from 20 points (31-11) to win 61-58.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
The Lobos began the New Year in style by doing something it had never done before: prevailing in consecutive overtime games, and on the road no less.
UNM squeaked past a fired-up UTEP squad 86-85 in overtime on Jan. 2. That was followed by a grind-it-out 99-92 double-overtime victory at Wyoming on Jan. 5, the Lobos' first win over the Cowboys at the Arena-Auditorium since 1995. New Mexico trailed Wyoming 48-32 at halftime, so it marked the largest second-half comeback on the road in program history.
SUPERLATIVES IN O-T WIN AT UTEP
The Lobos established some new standards in the 86-85 OT win over UTEP on Jan. 2:
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.