Jan. 28, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - In The Pit
Saturday: New Mexico Lobos 71, TCU Horned Frogs 54
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Really, it was an afternoon of double pleasure for the New Mexico Lobos. The Lobos won. The San Diego State Aztecs lost. The Lobos are now only a game off the Mountain West lead.
"I think that's going to happen in this league," Lobo Coach Steve Alford said of the Aztecs' loss. "It's hard to win on the road. Anybody can win on any given night in this league. If you have an off night, it can cost you."
The Lobos didn't have an off night/afternoon vs. TCU. The Lobos did what they were expected to do Saturday in The Pit running to a 71-54 win over a stubborn TCU team. Meanwhile, No. 12 San Diego State fell to Colorado State by a shocking 17 points in Fort Collins. Yes, this is the Rams' team that UNM mastered by 33 points in The Pit.
The Lobos were knocking on the Mountain West door prior to Saturday's league tips. Now, the Lobos have a foot in that door.
"We're only a game out of first place," said Alford.
The Lobos used a quick one-two punch outside behind 18 points by Tony Snell and 14 points by Kendall Williams. Jamal Fenton came off the bench to score nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. UNM shot 48.3 percent from the field while holding TCU to 40.5 percent.
UNM won the points-off-turnovers battle, 23-11 and outscored TCU 32-16 in the paint, but a lot of that inside scoring came from guards and points in transition. UNM's 6-9 Drew Gordon scored only seven points, but the big Lobo hauled down 11 rebounds.
The Lobos also got nine points off the bench from Phillip McDonald as UNM's bench outscored TCU, 25-19. UNM had 13 second-chance points to none for the Frogs.
TCU got only eight points from senior guard Hank Thorns. "The job he (Williams) did on Thorns might have been the biggest key to this game," said Alford. "That might be the best job defensively he's done since he's been here."
Amric Fields led TCU with 16 points, keyed by his 4-of-7 shooting from long range. J.R. Cadot scored 15 and did a good job on the boards for TCU with nine rebounds. UNM won that board battle, 36-27.
"We hold them to three offensive rebounds," said Alford. "That might have been the best thing we did all night."
TCU had pulled to within six, 51-45, before the Lobos ran to a 61-47 bulge. The Lobos' biggest lead of the game was 17 points with 15:54 to play.
"I thought we improved. I thought we got better," said Alford. "We never let them get going. We've played 21 games now and we're 17-4. Our guys have done a really good job throughout this entire season.
"This week our guys have really been focused."
Second Half: New Mexico 38, TCU 28
TCU opened the scoring in the second half to cut UNM's lead to 33-26. Snell then hit a 3-pointer followed by a Greenwood layup out of transition and UNM was up 38-28. Snell dropped in another bomb and TCU asked for a timeout, standing in a 41-38 hole. The Pit was rocking and so was Snell.
UNM then ran in transition after a TCU miss. Hardeman got the rebound, made the outlet pass, and then hustled to get the ball back for a dunk. The Lobos were up 43-28 and threatening to drift away.
TCU missed on its end and UNM got another bucket on the run. Greenwood fed William for a layup. UNM was up 45-28. The Frogs then threw out a little run and when back-to-back treys cut UNM's lead to 45-36 Alford burned a timeout at 13:59.
Gordon scored inside: 47-36. Thorn hit a 3-pointer: and TCU was down 47-39 going into a break with 11:51 to go.
Fenton scored on a layup produced off a crossover dribble: 49-39. TCU's Fields came back to roll off a screen and pop in a three: 49-42. Fenton again blew through the heart of the TCU defense for another layup: 51-42.
The Lobos pulled ahead 57-45 at the 8:30 mark after TCU had cut their gap to six points. Fenton scored on a 3-pointer and Williams scored an old-fashioned 3-point play to produce that 12-point lead. Williams got a garbage bucket on a follow at 5:33 and UNM was up 59-47.
The Lobos' Snell then slipped behind the TCU defense as UNM ran out of transition. His dunk put the Lobos up 61-47 with under five minutes to play. The Frogs were running out of time. UNM then ran up 69-52 and that ended it. UNM won 71-54.
First Half: New Mexico 33, TCU 26
The Horned Frogs made a huge mistake in the first half. They let the Lobos get on a run in the Pit. TCU led the game 15-12 before UNM went on a surge that pushed UNM up 27-18. Snell banged in a trey to cap that 15-3 run.
TCU then had a little burst to cut its gap to 27-23 with 3:24 to play. Bairstow scored inside on a left-handed jump hook to push UNM up 29-23. Field then banged in a trey in front of UNM's bench and TCU was down three, 29-26.
Fenton took a charge that led to a McDonald jumper and a 31-26 UNM lead. McDonald threw in a fade away jumper at the buzzer to produce UNM's 33-26 lead.