Feb. 9, 2011
Lobo Men's Basketball - In The Pit
Wednesday:Lobos 68, Wyoming 57
Saturday: 7 p.m., Lobos at Colorado State
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobos' 68-57 not-all-that-easy win over Wyoming might have slipped somewhere into Steve Alford's definition of a "trap game." If so, the Lobos avoided the trap and notched a win, despite their worse shooting game of the year at 37.7 percent.
But Saturday the definition of "trap game" soars to new heights as New Mexico heads into a well-oiled trap baited and waiting for a certain prey - a Lobo from New Mexico.
The Rams have been promoting the Lobos' visit all week and even giving away candy-come-hithers or whatever it takes to get Ram fans into Moby Arena to witness a pivotal MWC battle. It's a game CSU needs to win. It's a game UNM needs to win.
The winner takes a healthy jump toward that coveted No. 3 finish in the Mountain West race, the loser licks his wounds and slides backward. "It's a pretty pivotal game early in February," said Alford.
The Lobos did their part to make the CSU game pivotal by working their way past Wyoming Wednesday night in The Pit. The Lobos got 19 points and all five of the UNM treys from Tony Snell and 16 points and a massive 18 boards from Drew Gordon.
Was it a two-man Lobo show? Well, maybe not quite, but without these two Lobos, UNM might be a notch down in the MWC standings and not a notch up.
"It was a really good win for us," said Alford, who saw his Lobos jump to 17-7 overall and 5-4 in league play. "It wasn't one of our better shooting nights, that's for sure. I don't know if anybody else (but Snell) made any jump shots."
Snell made five field goals, all from long range. Gordon worked the middle like a hungry beast with nine offensive and nine defensive boards.
The Lobos were up 47-45 with 10:14 to play and slowly pulled away through the final ten minutes. At the 6:55 mark, UNM was up 60-49.
"I thought our effort was really good in the second half," said Alford. "I thought Jamal gave us a big lift. Our bench gave us a big lift."
Of course, most of the heavy lifting was done by Gordon and Snell - two first-year Lobos.
"Drew has really given us an inside presence which is opening things up for Tony and other guys getting good looks outside. (Snell) is really shooting the ball. He's getting good looks and to his credit, he's knocking them down."
If there was a Cowboy back breaker in this game, it came with 4:26 to play. Williams drove and kicked out to Snell on the right wing and his fifth and final trey moved the scoreboard to 65-52. Game over.
The Lobos played without A.J. Hardeman, out ill. Gordon got his 16 points and 18 boards in 30 minutes.
"It was a hard-fought game. The refs definitely let us play," said Gordon. "The bigs were banging and the refs were letting it go. Those are the games you have to enjoy playing."
Second Half: Lobos 34, Wyoming 25
UNM came out of the half up two, but the `Pokes slipped into the lead at 39-37. The Lobos went up 44-41 on a Snell trey off a Gordon pass. UNM held that three-point lead at the 14:21 media break.
Kirk kept the Lobos up by three tossing in a soft left-handed jump hook to make the score 46-43. That count carried into the 11:54 media break. UNM was up 47-43 at 10:30 going into a timeout called by Wyoming.
The `Pokes cut UNM's lead to 47-45 on two free throws by Luster, who was bumped on a drive. A Gary power layup off a Fenton steal pushed UNM up 50-45 and Fenton made it 52-45 on two free throws. The Pit was beginning to get into it.
The Lobos then went on a short run going up 58-49 at the 6:56 media stop. The Lobo scores came on a Gordon follow, a Williams' dunk and a Gordon dunk.
The game was beginning to slip away from the visitors from Laramie. UNM called a timeout at 4:54 and up on the board by a 62-52 count. UNM's last bucket was a breakaway dunk by McDonald off a Gary feed.
UNM expanded its lead to 65-52 when Snell arched in a high trey off a drive and pass from Williams. It was Snell's fifth trey and UNM's fifth trey at that point. No other Lobo had scored from long range. At the 3:44 media break, UNM was up 11 - 65-54.
The `Pokes needed to quickly cut into UNM's lead. They couldn't do it. With a minute to go in the game, UNM had the ball and a 66-57 lead. The Lobos rolled in for the 68-57 MWC win.
Lobo Stat Leaders: Snell 11 pts., Williams 4 assts., Gordon 6 rebs.
The Lobos grabbed a 34-32 halftime lead behind 11 points by Snell. Wyoming's Amath M'Baye had 15 points and five boards. Wyoming won the board battle in the half 19-14. UNM shot 40.7 percent from the floor to 46.4 percent for the Cowboys.
The Lobos scored four more points from the free-throw line in the first half and had three 3-pointers to a single bomb for Wyoming.