Lobos Open Season With Exhibition vs. Eastern New Mexico
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/31/2007
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 31, 2007

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    The University of New Mexico men's basketball team opens its exhibition season Friday when its hosts Eastern New Mexico. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m., from the The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.

    The 105th regular season of Lobo hoops gets underway Friday, Nov. 9 as UNM visits the University of Colorado in Boulder. The first home game is Monday, Nov. 12 against Eastern Washington.

    This is the second exhibition game between UNM and ENMU. The Lobos won 99-67 on Nov. 1, 2004.

    In regular-season games, UNM has an 15-1 lead in a series that started 66 years ago. The first game was Dec. 19, 1941, with New Mexico winning 51-40 in Portales. The Greyhouds' lone victory was a shocker on Dec. 2, 1991, an 81-76 decision in The Pit.

    Steve Alford was named the school's 19th head men's basketball coach on March 23, 2007. Alford spent the past eight seasons as the head coach at the University of Iowa.

    Alford replaced Ritchie McKay, who compiled an 82-69 overall record in five seasons at UNM. McKay is now the head coach at Liberty.

    Alford, 42, has a 308-183 (63%) career record in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach. His teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, produced 13 winning seasons and reached 20 wins on eight occasions.

    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.

    The Bears were 16-12 in Alford's first season at the Division I level in 1995-96. In 1997-98 Southwest Missouri won 12 of its final 18 games, posting a final record of 16-16 while advancing to the title game of the MVC postseason tournament for the second straight season. Alford joined the collegiate coaching ranks at Manchester College in 1992, taking over a team that had lost its first eight games. After winning four of 20 games that season, Alford led Manchester to a 20-8 mark in his first full year of 1992-93.

    The following season Manchester was 23-4 followed by a 31-1 mark in his fourth and final season. Manchester won three straight conference tournament titles from 1993-95, advancing to the NCAA Division III Tournament all three seasons.

    Manchester advanced to the 1995 NCAA Division III championship game before suffering its first defeat in 32 games to place second in the nation. Alford was named Indiana Collegiate Conference coach of the year in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and his record was 74-13 over his final three seasons.

    A native of New Castle, Ind., Alford was a prep standout for his father, Sam Alford, at New Castle Chrysler High School. He earned Indiana's Mr. Basketball Award in 1983 after averaging 37.7 points per game as a senior.

    During his collegiate career at Indiana, Alford started all but five of 125 games, helping the Hoosiers post a four-year mark of 92-35. Alford served as head coach Bob Knight's team captain in 1987 when Indiana posted a 30-4 overall record and won the national championship.

    Alford concluded his college career as Indiana's all-time scoring leader with 2,438 points and he became the first player to win the Indiana MVP award four times. He is also Indiana's career leader in steals and three-point field goal percentage. Alford was a consensus first team all-America selection and the Big Ten MVP as a senior.

    Alford earned first team all-Big Ten honors in each of his final three seasons and also earned all-America honors as a junior. He was named to the NIT all-tourney team as a sophomore when the Hoosiers finished second to UCLA. His career free throw percentage of .897 (535-596) ranks fourth best in NCAA history and he led the nation in free throw percentage as a freshman.

    Alford was named to the all-tournament team at the 1987 NCAA Final Four and to the NCAA tournament all-decade team for the 1980s. He set an NCAA Final Four record when he made 7 of 10 3-point baskets in the 1987 championship game victory over Syracuse. In 1997, Alford was inducted into the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame and in 2001 he was one of 15 players selected to Indiana's all-Century team. He was one of five players named to ESPN's Big Ten Conference Silver Anniversary team in 2004. The Sporting News recently published Legends of College Basketball, a publication that recalled the careers of the 100 greatest Division I college basketball players. Alford was No. 35 on the list.

    Following his freshman season at Indiana, Alford was selected to play for the United States basketball team at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Alford shot 64.4% percent from the field, averaged 10.3 points per game and was second on the team in assists as the U.S. collegians won the gold medal.

    Alford was born Nov. 23, 1964, in Franklin, Ind. He holds a bachelor's degree in business from Indiana University. Alford is married to the former Tanya Frost, whom he has known since the two were schoolmates in grade school in New Castle. The Alfords have three children: Kory, Bryce and Kayla.

    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 1,265-996 (.559). New Mexico was 421-497 (.458) from 1900-62, but has gone 844-499 (.628) over the past 44 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.

    The Lobos have been playing exhibition games since the 1972-73 season. UNM has a 53-5 all-time record, 48-5 in The Pit. Last year, UNM walloped Western New Mexico 98-42. Average attendance for 53 home exhibition games is 15,014.

    Danridge Out Until January
    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.

    New Mexico was picked to finish 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.

    The Lobos return eight lettermen, including four starters, from last year's team that posted a 15-17 overall record and finished tied for eighth in the MWC with a 4-12 mark. UNM returns more than 77% of its scoring, 67% of its rebounding and 71% of its minutes.

    Returning starters include seniors J.R. Giddens, Tony Danridge, Darren Prentice and Jamaal Smith. Giddens led the team in scoring at 15.8 ppg while Danridge was second on the team at 12.5 ppg. Prentice led the squad with 101 assists while Smith was tops from the FT line at 82.5%. Danridge was a 3rd team All-MWC selection while Giddens and Prentice were both honorable mention honorees.

    New Mexico lost just two seniors in Aaron Johnson and Kellen Walter. Johnson led the team in rebounding, grabbing 7.3 rpg while scoring 6.3 ppg. Walter was the only four-year player on the team, averaging 2.0 ppg as a senior.

    Junior Jeffrey Henfield (2.2 ppg), sophomore Ryan Kersten (5.5 ppg) and freshmen Sean Imadiyi (1.1 ppg), David Kanyinda (1.5 ppg) and Derek Oestreicher (redshirt in 2006-07) all decided to leave the program following the season.

    Other returning players include senior Blake Harden, juniors Chad Toppert and Daniel Faris and sophomore Roman Martinez. Harden rejoins the Lobos after a one-year absence from the program. He was enrolled in school but not on the team in 2006-07. Toppert was No. 9 in the nation in 3-pt. FG% at 43.8%. He was also third on the team in scoring at 9.5 ppg. Faris started 10 games as a sophomore, averaging 4.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg.

    Alford and his staff will welcome five new faces to the team in 2007-08, two junior college transfers (Johnnie Harris and Monquel Pegues) and three freshmen (Dairese Gary, Kem Nweke and Jonathan Wills).

    Major renovations to The Pit could start in the summer of 2008. The cost of the project could range from $50-60 million. The University of New Mexico Board of Regents recently gave preliminary approval for a $20-25 million bond. The rest of the funding will come from the state and private sources. Gov. Bill Richardson pledged funding for Pit renovations in January of 2006. The venerable arena opened Dec. 1, 1966. All renovations in the past 40 years have been limited to locker rooms and offices.

    Although specific details have yet to be finalized, the scope of work is expected to include the following:

  • new entrances, ticket office and novelty store
  • new men's and women's locker rooms
  • expanding the north, east and west concourses to allow for the construction of new restrooms and concession stands
  • building suites on the mezzanine level of the east and west sides
  • connecting the Davalos Center to The Pit
  • possibility of adding a third floor to the north end of the arena for a restaurant
  • videoboards

    The Lobos have a 27-21 record in 24 years of conference tournaments. The breakdown is 22-14 with two titles in 16 years in the Western Athletic Conference, but just 5-7 and one championship in seven tries in the Mountain West.

    UNM has never won an MWC Tournament game seeded fifth or lower. The Lobos are 0-4 in those contests.

    UNM has exited the MWC tourney after one game six times with three of those knockouts coming courtesy of UNLV. UNM lost to BYU in the 2001 title game and beat Utah to win the 2005 championship.


  • Since 2003-04, New Mexico is 62-6 when it shoots better than its opponent...the only losses came in 2004-05 against Air Force (UNM 69.2% to AFA's 50%) and to Villanova (29.8% to 28.3%) in the NCAA Tournament, last year against Washington (54% to 50%) and twice to BYU (UNM 53% to BYU's 49% in The Pit, UNM's 51% to BYU's 46% in Provo) and this year at San Diego State (51% to 46%)...the record is 102-10 since 2000-01, including 11-1 this season

  • The Lobos are 27-2 when allowing less than 60 points since 2004-05

  • Since 2004-05, the Lobos are 50-11 when they lead at halftime, however, 10 of the losses came in the past two seasons

    UNM has made a 3-point basket in 548 straight games, the 12th-longest active streak in NCAA Div. I hoops. UNLV is 1st at more than 650 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.

    Despite the close proximity of the two schools, UNM and New Mexico meet for just the 12th time since the first game in 1926. CU has a 6-5 advantage, however, the Lobos rolled over the Buffaloes last year in The Pit, 106-65. The 41-point margin is New Mexico's largest against a Big 12 opponent.. J.R. Giddens scored 25 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Daniel Faris scored a career-best 14 points and added 8 boards in 20 minutes.

    The Buffs won the first four games of the series between 1926-58. The Lobos followed with four straight victories from 1970-76.

    Colorado has a 4-2 lead in games played in Boulder. The last contest there was Dec. 1, 1979, an 86-78 CU victory.

    Colorado was 7-20 last year, 3-13 in the Big 12. The Buffaloes return four starters from a year ago, led by standout senior guard Richard Roby, who is the son of former Lobo Paul Roby (1978-79) and the half brother of NBA star Kenyon Martin. Richard Roby averaged 17.3 points a game last year. He scored 12 points in last year's game against UNM, but was 4 of 16 from the floor, including 1 of 9 from 3-point.

    CU's new head coach, Jeff Bzdelik, is no stranger to Lobo basketball, having faced UNM the past two seasons when he was at Air Force. Bzdelik went 3-1 against New Mexico, 2-0 at the Academy and 1-1 in Albuquerque.

    So far UNM has sold 9,884 season tickets for the upcoming men's basketball season, over 1,000 more tickets sold than this time last year and the most since 10,598 in 2003-04.

    2007-08 SEASON OUTLOOK
    A new era of Lobo basketball was ushered in on March 23, 2007, in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the University of New Mexico Student Union Building. On that day, Steve Alford was named the 19th head coach in the storied history of Lobo basketball. The move was met with cheers and applause from the current and former players, boosters, fans and students in attendance.

    "We are thrilled to have Steve and his family join our Lobo family," said UNM director of athletics Paul Krebs. "He is an outstanding coach and he possesses a proven track record in arguably the toughest men's basketball conference in the country. In addition to his great basketball pedigree and national name, Steve is an outstanding teacher and recruiter who cares deeply about the student-athlete. Steve's arrival at the University of New Mexico signals a commitment to re-establishing UNM as a national player in men's basketball."

    Alford comes to UNM after spending the previous eight years at the University of Iowa. He brings a 308-183 (63%) career record in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Alford's teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, producing 13 winning seasons and reaching 20 wins on eight occasions.

    "This is a tremendous opportunity," said Alford. "I appreciate the opportunity that the University of New Mexico has given to me. We're looking forward to getting started and are excited to building a winning program. The Pit and Lobo basketball have a great tradition with NCAA Tournaments. We want the home court advantage to be even better. The fans will have a big part in making that possible."

    The move to hire Alford as the new coach of the Lobos was made following one of the most difficult years in program history. New Mexico finished the 2006-07 season with a 15-17 record - only the second losing tally in the past 24 seasons - and a 4-12 mark in Mountain West Conference action. Competing as the ninth seed, the Lobos were ousted from the MWC Tournament in the opening round, dropping their first game in the tournament for the fourth time in five years.

    Alford knew the moment he took over the reins of the Lobo program, he would have his work cut out for him to bring the passion and championships back to The Pit. His first task was to put together a staff that would share his new desire to make Lobo basketball among the top programs in the country. His first hire was associate head coach Craig Neal, who was Alford's top assistant at Iowa and has years of experience as a player, coach and scout in the NBA. Alford also hired former Pepperdine assistant Ryan Miller, one of the top young recruiters in college basketball. Silvey Dominguez, a 1977 graduate of UNM and a veteran of the MWC, was also brought in as the Lobos' director of operations.

    Alford and his staff got to work right away, securing a solid five-member recruiting class that rivals any other in the MWC. A trio of highly touted high school prospects include, 6-1 point guard Dairese Gary, 6-10 center Kem Nweke and 6-5 swingman Jonathan Wills. A 6-10 junior college All-American, Monquel Pegues, and 6-8 JC standout Johnnie Harris round out Alford's first class at UNM.

    "We were very fortunate to get the quality players we did so late in the recruiting process," stated Alford. "I couldn't be more pleased with the class of five that we put together in such a short amount of time."

    Despite having to immediately fill five scholarships, the locker room was not empty when Alford took over the New Mexico program. Four starters, including three All-MWC candidates, return from the 2006-07 squad. New Mexico also has the luxury of possessing five experienced seniors to help lead the transition for the new coaching staff. However, third team All-MWC team member Tony Danridge suffered a broken left fibula on Oct. 4 that will sideline him until mid-January. Danridge, a 6-5 wing and three-year letterwinner, has played in every game over the last three seasons, but had to have surgery on Oct. 8. Last year, Danridge was second on the team with 12.5 ppg and was the only player to start all 32 games. He hit the 24-point mark three times as a junior, his career-high for scoring. His loss will cause some roles to change among the players, but Danridge could return in time for the entire MWC season which begins on Jan. 5 at Wyoming.

    Also returning is leading scorer J.R. Giddens, an honorable mention All-MWC selection who averaged 15.8 ppg last season. Giddens also was second on the team with 6.5 rpg. He led the team in scoring 17 times and had three double-doubles on the year.

    Another returning senior is honorable mention All-MWC guard Darren Prentice. Prentice averaged 8.9 ppg and led the team with 101 assists. He is the first Lobo to top the 100-assist mark since the 2001 season. His 28 points at Utah tied for the most by a Lobo in 2006-07.

    Seniors Jamaal Smith and Blake Harden round out the quintet of Lobos entering their final season of college basketball. Smith started 21 games last season, averaging 8.0 ppg while leading the team in free throw shooting at 82.5%. Harden returns to the Lobos after a one-year hiatus from the program. He was enrolled in school in 2006-07 but was not part of the basketball team. Harden averaged 2.5 ppg with 10 starts as a sophomore in 2005-06.

    "The seniors are going to be very important to our success this season," explained Alford. "They are going to have to buy into what we are trying to do here and then be leaders to the rest of the guys on the team. So far, they have been tremendous in that aspect and we are doing what we can to make sure they have a successful final season at New Mexico."

    Two Albuquerque natives make up the returning junior class for the 2006-07 campaign: 6-6 sharpshooter Chad Toppert and 6-9 forward Daniel Faris. Toppert was third on the team in scoring last season, averaging 9.5 ppg. The Albuquerque Academy graduate hit 85 three-pointers, the seventh most in one season in the Lobo record books. His 43.8% accuracy is ranked fourth in school history for a season and was ninth in the nation among those making at least 2.5 per game. Toppert went for 20 points on four different occasions, including twice in the last five games of the season. Faris started 10 games, averaging 4.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg as a sophomore, and is the lone player taller than 6-6 to return from last year. Faris led the team in rebounding five times and scored in double figures in three games. His best outing was a 14-point, eight-rebound effort against Colorado in the third game of the season.

    The only returning sophomore is 6-6 guard/forward Roman Martinez, who became the first Lobo in 12 years to start the first 10 games as a true freshman, since Clayton Shields started the first 25 games of his career in 1994-95. The scrappy Martinez averaged 2.7 ppg and 2.6 rpg during the season.

    Pegues and Harris will help fill a much needed gap on the interior when they arrive on campus. The junior college transfers bring impressive credentials and have the ability to quickly adjust to Division I basketball. Pegues' 6-10, 255-pound frame gives UNM a player with the required size to be productive against MWC post players. He was an NJCAA Division I honorable mention All-American at Cape Fear CC in Wilmington, N.C., last season. Harris comes to UNM from Chicago, Ill., by way of Chipola College in Chipola, Fla. Chipola was the NJCAA Division I national runner-up last season and Harris was a large reason why. At 6-8 and 250 pounds, Harris did the dirty work for Chipola, scoring 15 points and 11 boards against Southern Idaho in the national semifinals.

    Gary is a physical 6-1, 205-pound point guard who was a two-time all-area selection at Concord High School in Elkhart, Ind. He is an excellent defender who also averaged nearly 22 ppg as a senior. Nweke adds size to the lineup and could be an impact player in his first year with the Lobos. Wills averaged 20.8 ppg and nine rebounds at Mayfair High School in Carson, Calif., last season. He led his team to a 21-7 record while shooting over 40% from 3-pt. range.

    The Lobos did get a head start on the Alford era in May with the team's exhibition tour of the Bahamas. New Mexico was able to hold 10 days of full practice prior to heading out on a four-game trip to the Caribbean from May 25-June 1.

    UNM went 3-1 in the four games played at the Sir Kendall Isaacs Gym in Nassau. The Lobos split a pair of contests against the Bahamian Select team before downing a pair of local club squads in the last two games. Danridge led UNM with 20.5 ppg while also grabbing 5.5 rebounds. Faris had a nice stretch, averaging 12.8 ppg and 8.0 rpg. Martinez was very impressive, leading the team on the glass with 9.3 rpg, to go with 10.5 ppg. Faris shot 62.1% from the field while Martinez hit 70.4% from the floor.

    "I was very pleased with our trip to the Bahamas," added Alford. "We played some tough teams who cared about winning, which made it very beneficial for us. It also gave the guys a chance to see how we do things and allowed for a quicker adjustment to our style of coaching. I wasn't worried about the wins and losses as much as how we competed, and I thought we did well in four tough games."

    After assembling a quality recruiting class and taking the current players on an international trip, Alford and his staff had to put together a competitive schedule for the upcoming season. The 2007-08 slate once again feature a 16-game schedule against MWC foes, and the non-conference ledger is shaping up to be a quality one. Texas Tech is scheduled to visit The Pit, matching Alford against his former college coach Bobby Knight. The Lobos will also play a home-and-home series with in-state rival New Mexico State and former WAC foe Hawaii. Basketball Travelers will also host a four-team tournament at The Pit that includes New Mexico, Presbyterian, Loyola Marymount and St. Bonaventure. The Lobos have strong non-conference road games that include the series against the Aggies and Warriors, along with visits to Colorado, Ole Miss and UTEP.

    In just a few short months, Alford and his staff have laid a solid foundation for the future of Lobo basketball. They have recruited a talented class and worked closely with the returning players to get a head start on the 2007-08 season. They have put in motion a strong movement to restore the excitement, passion and winning that has been synonymous with Lobo basketball and The Pit for more than 40 years.

    2006-07 SEASON RECAP
    The New Mexico Lobos ended their 104th season in the first round of Mountain West Conference Tournament with a 62-54 loss to TCU. UNM finished 15-17 overall, just the program's second losing season in the past 24 years.

    After starting 5-0, the Lobos ended the season on a five-game losing streak, something that had not happened since the last five games of the 1979-80 season. New Mexico had not lost five straight games at any point of a season since 1995.

    Picked to finish fifth in the conference's preseason poll, New Mexico was 4-12 in the MWC regular season, 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.

    New Mexico endured its fifth losing record in the MWC 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 conference record from 1984-2000, a span of 17 seasons.

    UNM was 2-12 away from home, 1-10 in true road games. The lone win was 70-66 at Colorado State on Feb. 3.

    After being the only program in the Mountain West Conference with a first team all-league pick from 2002-06, the Lobos were shutout this year. Junior Tony Danridge was a third-team pick while juniors J.R. Giddens and Darren Prentice received honorable mention.

    First team Lobos in the past were Ruben Douglas in 2002 and `03, Danny Granger in 2004 and `05 and Mark Walters in 2006.

    New Mexico tied a single-season school record by playing four overtime games, and they came in an 11-game stretch in Mountain West Conference play. UNM was 1-3 in OT games.

    The Lobos edged Utah at home 86-82 on Jan. 13. Two weeks later, UNLV got past the Lobos 76-72. On Feb. 20, New Mexico had a chance to beat San Diego State in regulation but UNM missed a lay-up at the end of regulation. The Aztecs prevailed 81-74 in the extra period. The very next game, Utah got revenge with a 93-91 double-OT triumph in Salt Lake City.

    UNM played four overtime games in a season on three other occasions: 1989-90, 1994-95 and 2000-01.

    The Lobos averaged 9.34 treys a game and 11 of the 13 players on the roster connected from long range. UNM ranked 1st in the MWC and finished 10th nationally.

    New Mexico opened the season by canning 16 of 39 3s in a 91-54 victory over Abilene Christian. The 16 treys tie for 5th-most in school history. It's the most 3s since 16 against Penn State on Dec. 29, 2004. Current Lobo Aaron Johnson was a member of that PSU team.

    The 39 attempts are the most by the Lobos in a non-overtime game. UNM threw up 42 in a 112-104 double overtime loss to New Mexico State on Dec. 11, 1993. UNM stroked 17 in a 93-91 double overtime loss at Utah, tied for the 4th-most in a game in school history. The Lobos were 9 of 15 in the two overtime periods.

    New Mexico watched three second-half, double-digit leads go by the wayside in MWC games. The Lobos led at nationally-ranked Air Force 37-16 in the first half and 41-24 early in the second period only to have the Falcons embark on a 28-1 blast. UNM lost 65-57. The Lobos led Air Force 19-9 at home, but came up short 60-51. They also had a 59-49 advantage at Utah before falling 93-91 in double overtime. New Mexico held a 28-14 advantage over TCU in the MWC Tournament, but was outscored by 16 in the second half in a 62-54 loss.

    Against Utah in The Pit, New Mexico led 40-25 right after halftime, but the Utes rallied to eventually tie the game. UNM squeaked out an 86-82 overtime win.

    The Lobos held a 44-28 advantage over rival New Mexico State only to have the Aggies trim it to one with 21 seconds remaining. UNM hung on to win 79-76.

    On the other hand, the Lobos erased some big deficits season. UNM trailed Pepperdine 36-23 in the first half before taking off on a 19-0 run and an eventual 101-96 victory.

    At Texas Tech on Jan. 1, New Mexico fell behind 33-13 and trailed 48-35 early in the second half. The Lobos rallied to take a 66-63 before coming up on the short end of a 70 68 decision, giving Bob Knight his 880th career win, tops among NCAA Div. I-A coaches. New Mexico led UNLV at The Pit 29-16, then fell behind by 16 (58-42) in the second half. The Lobos rallied for a 1-point lead, but fell 85-83 when a 3-pointer by J.R. Giddens at the buzzer came up short.

    On Dec. 22, New Mexico knocked No. 8 Wichita State from the ranks of the unbeaten with a gutty 71-68 victory in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Classic played at the Orleans Arena. The Shockers were 9-0 coming into the game.

    The last time New Mexico beat a team ranked that high was in 1999 when it nipped No. 2 Arizona 70-68 in Tucson.

    The victory over WSU was all the more impressive considering UNM was without the services of leading scorer J.R. Giddens for most of the second half. The junior guard sprained his left ankle a few minutes into the second half and was limited to 26 minutes.

    In Giddens' stead, junior Tony Danridge stepped up to tie a career-high with 17 points. Point guard Jamaal Smith, playing in front of hometown family and friends, was solid under constant pressure with 13 points and 5 assists. Chad Toppert came off the bench to score 10 points, including a huge 3-pointer with 39 seconds left for a 68-62 lead.

    In an unconscious stretch in the 106-65 victory over Colorado, the Lobos nailed 11 consecutive shots in the second half, and it wasn't a lay-up drill. Eight players contributed, getting 27 points from the 11 baskets over a span of 6 minutes and 7 seconds. Five of the buckets were 3-pointers from four different players.

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