Jan. 28, 2004
New Mexico hits the road this week for games at UNLV and San Diego State. The Lobos and Runnin' Rebels do battle Saturday at 7:06 p.m. Mountain Time from the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. SportsWest will originate the telecast with local viewing on KRQE-TV. The game will also be available through ESPN's Full Court package.
New Mexico is 11-6 overall and 2-2 in the MWC after sweeping Utah (70-54) and BYU (65-63) at home for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. UNM halted the Utes' nine-game winning streak last Saturday and ended a four-game losing skid to BYU with a thrilling finish on Monday night. The Lobos are 9-3 after a 2-3 start.
With at least 11 games remaining in the season, UNM has surpassed its win total from last year when it finished 10-18. New Mexico is 11-3 in The Pit so far, and has won nine of 10. The Lobos were 10-7 at home last year.
The Lobos will take another stab at ending a burdensome road losing streak that has reached 20 straight overall, 21 consecutive including neutral sites and 13 MWC games. The last win away from Albuquerque was Jan. 28, 2002, a 70-64 decision at Colorado State. New Mexico has lost six straight to the Runnin' Rebels in Las Vegas and two in a row at San Diego State.
UNLV is 10-6 overall and 1-3 in MWC action after an 89-83 overtime loss at Colorado State Monday. Three of the Rebels' first four conference games have been on the road.
UNLV is the only MWC institution head coach Ritchie McKay has not beaten in his collegiate coaching career. McKay's teams are 0-6 against the Rebels, 0-3 in Las Vegas.
Saturday's game will match two of the top newcomers and forwards in the league in UNM's Danny Granger and the Rebels' Odartey Blankson. Granger is averaging 21.9 points and 10.0 rebounds since becoming eligible on Dec. 21. Granger, who is averaging 25 ppg in four MWC contests, has posted five double-doubles in his 11 games. Blankson has started all 16 games for UNLV, averaging 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds.
UNM has had a full roster the past 11 games - since Dec. 21 - when Granger (Bradley) and Troy DeVries (Portland State) became eligible as mid-season transfers. UNM is 8-3 since their arrival. Granger (21.9) and DeVries (12.7) are the team's top-two scorers since taking the court. Granger became the first Lobo since Kenny Thomas in 1997-98 to record four straight double-doubles. Thomas did so the first five games that season.
DeVries is averaging 12.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and a team-leading 4.0 assists, including 12 dishes against Coppin State, the best total by a Lobo in 12 years. He is shooting 47% (32-68) from 3-point, an average of 2.9 treys a game.
LOBOS VS. UNLV - UNLV has a 15-9 lead in a series that started Jan. 17, 1976. The Rebels won both games last year and have taken four straight and eight of the last 10, including six consecutive in Las Vegas. The last New Mexico victory in Las Vegas was 75-66 on Feb. 16, 1998. UNM was ranked 11th in the nation going into that game. UNLV has a 10-3 lead overall in Las Vegas, 6-1 in the Thomas and Mack Center. The Rebels lead 6-2 in MWC games.
Last year in Las Vegas: It was another hearty effort by the Lobos, but they ended up on the short end of a 74-69 decision at UNLV. UNM rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit to take a 58-55 lead. The game was back and forth down the stretch. Jamaal Williams hit a bucket to put UNM back on top at 60-59. Williams did not start but set career-highs for points (25) and rebounds (15).
Two Ruben Douglas free throws tied the game at 62 with 2:42 left. On UNLV's next trip, J.K. Edwards converted a three-point play after being fouled by David Chiotti. After Douglas missed a 3-point attempt, Edwards scored inside again with 1:20 left to hand the Rebels a 67-62 cushion with 1:20 remaining.
Williams slammed home a shot on a great feed from Douglas to pull UNM within three at 67-64. The crusher for the Lobos came on UNLV's next possession as Jermaine Lewis nailed a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded on the shot clock. That gave the Runnin' Rebels a 70-64 lead with just 21.3 ticks left. UNM shaved it to three again as Mark Walters made a 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds remaining, but the Rebels made hit free throws to close it out.
The Lobos started miserably from the floor, missing 16 of their first 21 shots and going more than six minutes without a field goal. UNLV went on a 14-2 run to open a 27-13 advantage with 7:51 left in the first half. The Rebels' lead grew to 38-21 before New Mexico used a 9-1 spurt to close the halftime gap to 39-30.
The Lobos came into the game tops in the MWC in 3-point shooting in conference games at 46.3%, but suffered a cold, cold day from beyond the arc. They missed their first 13 attempts and finished just 2 of 20. UNM did not make a trey until midway through the second half when Douglas connected on his only make in 10 attempts. Despite their lack of size, UNM had a 44-27 rebounding edge.
Last year in Albuquerque: Despite a heroic effort by Douglas, the Lobos allowed a late lead to slip through their fingers in a 75-66 loss. New Mexico, which fell despite a career-high 40 points from Douglas, was outscored 13-3 over the final 4:21 of the contest.
New Mexico had taken a 63-62 lead on a thunderous Douglas dunk before UNLV went to work down the stretch. Rebel guards Demetrius Hunter and Marcus Banks sandwiched back-to-back 3-pointers around a pair of missed free throws by Douglas. J.K. Edwards then hit both ends of a one-and-one before Douglas responded with his eighth three of the game. However, UNLV knocked down 3-4 FTs and grabbed the offensive rebound on its lone miss in the final minute to secure the victory.
The Lobos built a nine-point halftime lead, 41-32, behind Douglas' 25 points in the first 20 minutes. Down 44-35 a little more than a minute into the second half, the Runnin' Rebels got consecutive threes from Hunter and Dalron Johnson to start an 11-0 run, giving them their first lead, 46-44, with 16:36 remaining. The lead switched hands eight times in the next 13 minutes before the decisive UNLV run. New Mexico shot just 32.1 percent (9-28) from the floor, including 2-16 (16.7%) from beyond the arc, in the second half.
HEAD COACH Ritchie McKay - Ritchie McKay is in his second season in charge of Lobo hoops and his eighth year as a collegiate head coach. He was named UNM's 18th head coach on March 28, 2002. McKay is the son of the late Joe McKay, who was a three-year letterman at guard for the Lobos from 1961-63.
McKay had previous stops at Portland State (1996-98), Colorado State (1998-2000) and Oregon State (2000-02). He has a career record of 104-113, 21-24 at New Mexico. McKay is 6-12 in conference games while at UNM, 6-4 at The Pit, 0-8 on the road. He is 0-6 in his career against UNLV, 0-3 in Las Vegas.
Granger, who scored 27 points, bailed out DeVries, who had a chance to break a 63-all tie but missed two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining. DeVries went to the line after BYU's Mark Bigelow was given a technical for running onto the court after teammate Kevin Woodberry's tip-in tied the game with 4 seconds left. Bigelow had fouled out with 1:26 left in the game.
DeVries missed the two free throws, but the Lobos retained possession. With Granger near the baseline under the New Mexico basket, DeVries threw the ball to him and Granger beat BYU center Rafael Araujo to the basket, his layup just managing to roll in.
BYU grabbed a 61-60 lead with 29.6 seconds left when Araujo made one of two free throws. The Lobos countered when Javin Tindall's second three of the night gave UNM a 63-61 lead with 15 seconds remaining. Tindall had been 1 of 9 from long range in three games before BYU.
Granger was the difference in a game that saw 14 ties and 16 lead changes. He also had 8 rebounds, six blocks and three assists. Granger didn't get his first field goal until the 11:32 mark of the first half, but finished with 15 points in the first half. He went 7-for-7 at the free throw line in the opening half as the Cougars had trouble matching his inside quickness and ended up fouling him.
* How close was the game? Only four times was the lead more than three points for either team...BYU led 21-15 and 24-20 in the first half, while UNM had a four-point advantage at 53-49 and 55-51
* The Lobos had been 1-4 in games decided by 9 points or less coming into the game...they also won for the first time in 7 contests when shooting worse than their opponent...UNM hit 42.6% (20-47) of its shots, BYU 44.2% (23-52)...it's actually the worst New Mexico has shot from the floor in a win this season
* The Lobos used a different starting lineup after utilizing the quintet of David Chiotti, Danny Granger, Alfred Neale, Troy DeVries and Javin Tindall for the previous 10 games... sophomore guard Mark Walters replaced Tindall who had started 16 consecutive games
* Granger had a season-high six blocks, one shy of his career high set when he was at Bradley...the last Lobo to have more than six blocks was Wayland White, who had eight vs. Alcorn State on Nov. 27, 2000...Granger also had career-highs of 13 free throws and 16 free throw attempts
* New Mexico committed just nine turnovers and has just 13 miscues the past two games...the Lobos had a season-low four against Utah last Saturday, the fewest since committing 4 vs. Cornell on Nov. 27, 1998
* UNM is now 9-2 in games decided by 10 points or more, 2-4 when the margin is under double figures
* UNM is now 11-2 when it leads at the break, 0-4 when it trails at halftime
* The Lobos are 11-3 when scoring 60 or more points this year, 0-3 with less than 60
* After five straight games hitting double figures in offensive rebounds, New Mexico has just 8 the past two games, 3 vs. Utah and 5 against BYU