Lobos Travel to Colorado State for Regular Season Finale
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/07/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 7, 2008

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  • Thursday Press Conference Audio: Alford | Toppert | Giddens

    The final game of the regular season is Saturday when New Mexico (23-7, 10-5 MWC) visits Colorado State (6-23, 0-15). Tipoff is 3:35 p.m. Mountain Time from Moby Arena in Fort Collins. The game will be televised live on The Mtn. with Rich Cellini and Larry Mangino calling the action. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.

    The Lobos, 7-1 in their last eight games, are in third place in the league after Tuesday's 59-45 victory over second-place UNLV. A win at Colorado State clinches the No. 3 seed for UNM in next week's MWC Tournament in Las Vegas. The No. 3 seed plays the No. 6 seed Thursday at 9:30 MDT.

    One game ahead of San Diego State in the conference standings, New Mexico will either be the No. 3 or No. 4 seed regardless of its outcome at Colorado State. San Diego State is 9-6 and plays at Air Force Saturday afternoon at 1. The Aztecs win any tiebreaker with the Lobos since they split the season series with league champ BYU. The Lobos were swept by the Cougars.

    A victory Saturday would also equal the most wins by a New Mexico team during the regular season. The 1977-78 Lobos were 24-3 heading into the NCAA Tournament while the 1995-96 team was 24-4 going into the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

    The Lobos are coming off an emotional win over UNLV on Senior Night. Senior J.R. Giddens represented the upperclassmen well, recording 17 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists while playing all but the final 30 seconds of the game. New Mexico held the Runnin' Rebels to 33% shooting and their lowest point total of the season.

    Colorado State lost 81-62 at Utah. CSU have lost 16 straight.

    New Mexico has won 6 of the last 7 meetings against Colorado State, and 8 of 10 and 22 of the past 25. UNM is 9-2 in its last 11 games against the Rams in Fort Collins.

    On Feb. 5 in Albuquerque, Chad Toppert came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points, leading New Mexico to a 91-51 win over CSU. UNM connected on 12 of 20 3-pointers as six different Lobos made 3s. The Lobos shot 54.2 percent from the field, while Colorado State hit just 17 of 50 attempts.

    After going 8-43 in true road games - played on the opponents' home floor - the past five seasons (2003-07), UNM is 7-5 this year. The school record for most true road wins is 8 on three occasions: 8-4 in 1972-73, 8-2 in 1977-78 and 8-3 in 1995-96.

    The MWC record for road wins is eight as well set by UNLV in 2006-07 and Air Force in 2003-04. BYU could tie the mark as well this year if it wins Saturday at TCU.

    UNM has won 3 straight conference road games for the first time since 2000. The last time the Lobos won 4 in a row was a 5-game run in 1998.

    New Mexico is currently a +8 in wins from last year. That figure ranks as tied for the 5th-biggest improvement in school history. It took New Mexico only 20 games to surpass last year's victory total (15-17) and UNM has also more than doubled last year's win total in conference play (4-12).

    The Lobos are a +6 in conference games, which is the 2nd-greatest jump of all-time and an argument could be made it's the best ever.

    During World War II - when schedules were abbreviated - UNM fashioned a 3-0 record in the Border Conference in 1944 with all three wins coming against Texas Tech. The Lobos improved to 12-0 in 1945 for an improvement of +9.

    Steve Alford has set a school record for most wins by a New Mexico head coach in his rookie season. Dave Bliss was 22-11 in 1988-89. The most wins by an Alford-coached team at the NCAA Div. I level is 25 at Iowa in 2005-06. His 1994-95 Manchester (Ind.) squad went 31-1 in NCAA Div. III.


  • In the most recent Jeff Sagarin ratings through games of Wednesday, March 5, New Mexico is ranked No. 41, second-highest in the Mountain West...BYU is 1st at No. 32...UNLV is at No. 48...in collegerpi.com through games of Wednesday, March 5, the Lobos are No. 50...BYU is No. 22, UNLV No. 29

  • The Lobos have hit just 20% (8-40) of their 3s the past 2 games, and are now No. 2 in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 42.10% through games of March 5...IUPUI is 1st at 42.31%

  • New Mexico has tied a school record for the 2nd straight season and the 5th time overall by playing 4 overtime games in a season

  • UNM is 7-1 in its last 8 games, and it's probably no coincidence that New Mexico has out-scored its opponents in the 2nd half in those 7 wins...the only time it did not was in a 70-69 overtime loss to BYU when the Cougars had a 41-36 scoring edge, including the extra period...in the 7 wins, the Lobos have out-scored their foes by an average of 13.6 points after halftime

  • Opponents are shooting just 41% froom the floor against UNM...that percentage would rank as the 4th-lowest by a Lobo team in the past 43 seasons

  • The Lobos' record by month: 7-0 in November; 5-2 in December; 4-3 in January; 6-2 in February, and 1-0 in March.

  • UNM has won 20 games in a season for the 21st time...all have occurred since the 1963-64 season...Steve Alford has his 9th 20-win campaign in 16 full seasons as a head coach

  • New Mexico is 16-2 at home this year, winning by an average margin of 20.2 points...the blemishes were a 72-67 loss to San Diego State, a game the Lobos led 24-10 in the first half and 33-25 at halftime, and 70-69 in overtime to BYU

  • The Lobos have had 10 or fewer turnovers 15 times this year, and it's happened 10 times in MWC games...UNM is averaging just 10.6 turnovers in MWC play

  • The Lobos lead the MWC in scoring margin (+12.1), 3-point FGs (8.27 pg) and 3-point percentage (42.1%)...UNM's 3-point shooting would be the 2nd-best in school history were it to hold up for the entire season

  • Although UNM is shooting just 63.4% from the FT line in conference games, it has made 81% of its charities (63-78) in crunch time (the last 3 minutes and in OT) in 14 MWC games

  • New Mexico is 20-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 70 points and 19-3 when leading at halftime

  • UNM has won 20 straight games when holding opponents to less than 60 points

  • New Mexico is 10-0 when J.R. Giddens and junior Chad Toppert - the team's leading scorers - each reach double figures in scoring, but 13-7 when they don't...in the two road losses at BYU and UNLV, they were held to a combined 29 points

  • Dairese Gary is establishing himself as one of the top freshman point guards in school history...he has started 25 games, the most by a UNM freshman point guard since John Robinson II started 30 in 1998-99...with 98 assists, Gary should become just the 5th Lobo freshman to record 100 in a season, joining Phil Smith (176 in 1980-81), David Gibson (113 in 1994-95), Robinson II (162 in 1998-99) and Marlon Parmer (115 in 1999-2000)...Gary also leads UNM in steals with 44, second-most ever by a UNM freshman...Phil Smith had 47 in 1980-81

  • The Lobos currently have two freshmen in the starting lineup in Dairese Gary and Jonathan Wills...Gary has started 25 games, Wills 14...the last time UNM freshmen had that many starts was in 2002-03 when David Chiotti (20), Jeff Hart (5), Mikal Monette (2) and Mark Walters (20) got the nod 47 times

    HEAD COACH Steve Alford
    Steve Alford was named UNM's 19th head coach on March 23, 2007, after spending eight seasons at the University of Iowa.

    Alford is 331-190 (63%) into his 17th season. His teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, produced 13 winning seasons and reached 20 wins on nine occasions.

    Alford is 1-0 in his career against Colorado State.

    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.

    The Lobos had sellout crowds of 18,018 in their last two home games against BYU and UNLV. The last time UNM had back-to-back sellouts was for Arizona and New Mexico State in November/December of 1996. The last time for consecutive sellouts in conference games was 1994 when Lobo fans bought every ticket for six straight games.

    Average attendance for 18 home games in 2007-08 is 14,361, an increase of 1,508 per game over last year's average of 12,853. Provided there are no more home games, it would be the Lobos' highest average attendance in five years, since 14,679 in 2003-04.

    THE SKINNY ON J.R. Giddens
    Simply stated, senior J.R. Giddens has been gettig it done on both ends of the floor the past few weeks.

  • The honors are starting to roll in for J.R...he has been named MWC Player of the Year by ESPN.com and first team all-district by the National Association of Basketball Coaches

  • Despite ranking 8th in the league in minutes played at 32 minutes a game, Giddens is the only player in the MWC who ranks in the top-10 in the MWC in scoring, rebounding, FG pct., assists, steals and blocks

  • Giddens is the only Lobo to ever reach 470 points, 250 rebounds, 90 assists, 40 steals and 30 blocks in a season

  • Giddens was named co-MWC Player of the Week twice in February...he scored 47 points in a 73-63 road victory at San Diego State and a 64-48 triumph against TCU...Giddens converted 17 of 26 (65%) field goals, 4 of 5 attempts from 3-point and added 19 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks and 4 steals...his averages for the week were 23.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 steals...at San Diego on Feb. 13, his 23rd birthday, Giddens went for 22 points and 11 rebounds for his 2nd straight double-double...he was 7 of 8 from the floor, including a season-high 3 treys in 3 attempts...Giddens added 4 assists, 2 steals and a career-high 4 blocks

  • Giddens also earned the honor for his performances against Colorado State and Wyoming...he converted 24 of 35 field goals, 3 of 7 attempts from 3-point and 4 of 5 free throws, and added 18 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks and 8 steals in just 60 minutes of action. Giddens' averages for the week were 27.5 points, 9 rebounds, 4. 0 steals and 3.5 assists...against Wyoming, Giddens scored a career-high 36 points and added 11 rebounds...he also had 3 assists, 1 block and a career-high 6 steals...Giddens' outburst is the most points by a Lobo since Ruben Douglas scored 39 in a 76-69 win over No. 22 Utah on March 1, 2003, and the most by in a conference game this season

  • How much better is Giddens' overall game? It only took him 23 games to set personal season-highs for rebounds, assists, blocks and steals

  • At UTEP on Jan. 2, Giddens fell 1 rebound short from becoming the first Lobo in 31 seasons to notch 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game...Jimmy Allen had 21 points and 20 boards in a 112-103 loss at New Mexico State on Dec. 1, 1976...Giddens scored 20 points and set career-highs with 19 rebounds and 7 assists in the overtime victory over the Miners...the 19 rebounds are the most in the MWC this season

    It's game No. 103 in a series that started Dec. 22, 1940. UNM has a 61-41 lead. The Lobos have won 6 of 7, 8 of 10 and 22 of 25 against the Rams since Feb. 12, 1994. UNM has a 14-3 lead in MWC games and 36-4 in The Pit. UNM is 9-2 in its last 11 games against the Rams in Fort Collins.

    Chad Toppert came off the bench to score a fistful of 3-pointers, leading New Mexico to a 91-51 win over Colorado State. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Lobos dominated CSU with sharp shooting and relentless defense. New Mexico had connected on 10 of 13 3-pointers midway through the second half and finished 12-for-20 overall. The Lobos shot 54.2 percent from the field for the game, while Colorado State hit just 17 of 50 attempts.

    Toppert led the Lobos with a career-high 22 points, going 5-for-9 from 3-point range. Six of his teammates contributed with at least one 3-pointer. J.R. Giddens added 19 points for the Lobos, while conference scoring leader Marcus Walker led the Rams with 11 points.

    The Lobos opened with a 7-0 run, holding CSU scoreless for the first 3:16. New Mexico quickly extended the lead to 21-8 and led by double-digits for the rest of the game.

    By the break, the Lobos were ahead 50-24. Toppert hit two 3-pointers in the final 1:15 of the first half as part of a 16-4 run leading to the break. It equaled the Lobos' largest halftime lead of the season.

    New Mexico's Dairese Gary opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 15-0 surge that resulted in a 65-24 lead. The Rams didn't find the basket until 6:25 had passed in the second half.

  • The 40-point victory is UNM's largest over Colorado State...the previous was 23 (111-88) on March 2, 1978

  • It's the Lobos' largest win in a conference game since whipping BYU 90-48 in Provo on Feb. 28, 1997

  • New Mexico got 43 points from its reserves

  • UNM shot a season-best 83.3% (15-18) from the FT line

  • Colorado State's Marcus Walker came into the game leading the MWC in scoring at 18.6 ppg, and 23.6 in conference games...he finished with 11 points on 3 of 12 shooting, including 0 of 6 from 3-point

  • New Mexico tied a season-low with 6 turnovers

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • did not start, but had a career-high 22 points on 5 of 9 shots from 3-point

    Senior J.R. Giddens

  • 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals

    Junior Johnnie Harris

  • 9 points and a career-best 6 rebounds off the bench, his best output since 11 points vs. St. Bonaventure

    Freshman Dairese Gary

  • 12 points, 6 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers in 23 minutes

    Tony Danridge scored 24 points to lead New Mexico to a 70-66 win over Colorado State. Aaron Johnson had 13 rebounds and five points for New Mexico and J.R. Giddens added 14 points. The teams traded the lead 14 times. Chad Toppert's two free throws with 20 seconds left gave New Mexico a 70-66 lead. Jason Smith and Tyler Smith both missed 3-pointers in the last 15 seconds for Colorado State.

    The Rams trailed 65-64 with 1:13 to go after two free throws by Cory Lewis. Toppert hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left to put New Mexico up 68-64. Jason Smith hit two foul shots for CSU to pull to within 68-66 before Toppert hit his two foul shots to close out the scoring. Jason Smith led the Rams with 16 points.

  • New Mexico snapped a 9-game road losing streak, dating to February of 2006 at TCU

  • New Mexico missed its first 11 shots from the floor and 15 of its first 16...the first basket came at the 13:05 mark on a 3-pointer by Darren Prentice...UNM ended up shooting 38% (24-64) for the game

  • Tony Danridge tied a career-high with 24 points...he also had 24 against Alcorn State...he scored 17 points in the 2nd half, making 7 of 9 FGs after 7 points in the 1st half on 3 of 8 FGs

  • Chad Toppert scored 11 points on three 3s...he scored 8 of UNM's final 12 points, including the last 5 in the final 38 seconds; a 3 that gave UNM a 68-64 lead, then 2 FTs on a 1-and-1 with 20.2 seconds left that pushed the lead back to 70-66

    J.R. Giddens had 17 points and 15 rebounds in what was likely his final homecourt appearance, lifting New Mexico to a 59-45 win over UNLV. The Lobos snapped a four-game losing streak to UNLV and logged a key victory as they seek to improve their argument for receiving a possible at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.

    Giddens was a force, collecting eight rebounds by halftime in his final homecourt appearance--barring a trip to the National Invitation Tournament. The Kansas transfer also had five assists and a steal. Fans in the student section chanted Giddens' name in the closing minutes, then "M.V.P" after the final horn, lobbying for Giddens to be named the Mountain West's player of the year.

    UNLV point guard Wink Adams scored 12, four points below his average, but went scoreless in the second half. The Rebels shot 33 percent from the floor, hitting just 18-of-54.

    UNLV had won four straight over New Mexico, including a 79-60 decision in Las Vegas on Feb. 2 when UNLV opened with a 21-5 run. The Lobos refused to let it happen again, forcing a grinding pace for a 24-22 halftime lead.

    From there, New Mexico turned the tables, starting the second half with an 13-0 burst that stretched the lead to 37-24. The Rebels missed their first four field goal tries and had four turnovers after the break, and the capacity crowd of 18,018 fans was at full roar as Chad Toppert hit a 3-pointer to force a UNLV timeout.

    New Mexico didn't stop, giving an all-out effort on both ends during a Senior Night sendoff for Giddens, Jamaal Smith and Darren Prentice.

    "I appreciate what these three young men have done for us with their leadership, their toughness," Lobos coach Steve Alford said in a postgame ceremony. "That's what you need for building blocks in a new program."

    After the Rebels cut the deficit to 43-33 at the 10-minute mark, Prentice threw a long pass to Giddens for a thunderous slam dunk that kept the fans standing and the crowd noise at full volume. Then, Roman Martinez collected a miss and banked it in to push New Mexico's lead to 47-33 with 7:44 remaining, and UNLV trailed 51-37 with 5 minutes to go when Smith drew the fourth and fifth fouls on Rebels point guard Wink Adams.

    UNLV coach Lon Kruger was furious with the call, but his team never got the margin into double digits again.

    With the victory, Alford set a school record for most wins by a first-year coach. Dave Bliss went 22-11 in his first season coaching the Lobos, back in 1988-89.

    The Pit was sold out, just like a week earlier for an overtime loss to BYU. It marked the first consecutive sellouts since the Lobos faced Arizona and New Mexico State early in the 1996-97 season.

  • UNM held the Runnin' Rebels to a season scoring low

  • The Lobos opened the 2nd half with a 13-0 burst to grab a 37-22 lead...UNLV's first points after halftime came at the 13:32 mark on 2 FTs by Matt Shaw...the Runnin' Rebels missed 4 shots and had 4 turnovers on their first 8 possessions of the 2nd half

  • New Mexico led 24-22 at halftime, the fewest points UNLV has scored in the first half this season

  • UNLV's Wink Adams finished with 12 points before fouling out with 5:08 left in the game...Adams was scoreless in the 2nd half

  • New Mexico came into the game leading the nation in 3-point percentage at 42.6%...the Lobos were 5 of 19 (26.3%) and are just 8 of 40 (20%) the past 2 games, lowering the season percentage to 42.1% (248-589)

    Senior J.R. Giddens

  • 17 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists for his 9th double-double of the season, 12th of his collegiate career and 5th in the MWC this season
  • played all but 30 seconds after playing 44 in his last game, an overtime loss to BYU
  • 15 rebounds are the 2nd-highest total of the season and most for him in a conference game

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • 2-5 from 3-point range after going 0 for 5 in his last outing vs. BYU
  • season accuracy is now 47.6% (78-164) in all games and 48.2% (41-85) in MWC action
  • career accuracy from 3-point is 45.4% (177-390), still 1st all-time at UNM
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