Feb. 7, 2008
The second half of the Mountain West Conference season begins Saturday when New Mexico (17-6, 4-4 MWC) entertains the Wyoming Cowboys (9-12, 2-6 MWC). Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. Mountain Time from The Pit/Bob King Court.
On Jan. 5 in Laramie, the Lobos took a dramatic 99-92 overtime victory over Wyoming, rallying from a 48-32 halftime hole. UNM snapped a 10-game losing steak to the Pokes at the Arena Auditorium dating to 1995.
Saturday's game can be seen live on The Mtn. with James Bates and Dave Bollwinkel, plus live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com. Game sponsors include New Mexico Mutual, 93.3 KOB FM and Magic 99.5. The first 2,500 fans will receive magnets courtesy of New Mexico Mutual.
New Mexico enters the Wyoming game tied with Air Force and Utah for 4th place in the conference standings. The Lobos are coming off their largest win of the season, a 91-51 decision agianst Colorado State on Tuesday.
Wyoming's last action was a 78-53 non-conference victory over Cal State Bakersfield. Freshman center Mikhail Linskens led the way with 23 points.
The Cowboys are 2-7 on the road this season, although their last away game was a 69-64 triumph at Utah. Brandon Ewing is 1st in the MWC in minutes played (38 mpg) and second in scoring at 17.5 ppg.
It could be a high-scoring affair Saturday. New Mexico is second in the league in offense at 75 points a game, while the Cowboys are last in the loop in scoring defense, allowing 72.2 points. Tke Pokes are also last in the MWC in turnovers, averaging 17.6 per contest.
When the Lobos beat Wyoming 99-92 in double overtime on Jan. 5, they staged the largest second-half comeback in a road game in school history. UNM trailed the Cowboys 48-32 at halftime. It ranks as the 5th largest deficit overcome regardless of location. New Mexico's largest comeback was Jan. 15, 1993, at Hawai'i when it rallied from 20 points (31-11) to win 61-58.
Alford is 325-189 (63%) into his 17th season. His teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, produced 13 winning seasons and reached 20 wins on eight occasions.
Alford is 1-0 in his career against Wyoming.
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.
NEW MEXICO-WYOMING SERIES
It's the 116th meeting and the Pokes have a 62-53 lead. Wyoming has taken 11 of the 17 MWC games. UNM won 99-92 in double OT in Laramie on Jan. 5, snapping a 10-game slide there; its first win at the Double-A since Feb. 18, 1995. The Lobos lead 32-23 in Albuquerque, but 27-14 at The Pit.
JAN. 5 IN LARAMIE
Jamaal Smith scored 24 points, including 11 in overtime, to lead New Mexico over Wyoming 99-92 in double overtime.
Smith hit three 3-pointers in the second half to help the Lobos overcome a 16-point halftime deficit.
J.R. Giddens scored five straight points to put New Mexico ahead 73-71 with 22 seconds remaining in regulation, but Wyoming's Joseph Taylor banked in a turnaround jumper on the ensuing possession to send the game into overtime.
Giddens scored four more points in the first overtime to give the Lobos an 82-81 lead with 22.2 seconds left, but a Taylor free throw with 17.9 seconds left tied the score at 82, forcing a second overtime. Giddens finished with 16 points, and Darren Prentice added 12 points for New Mexico. Ryan Dermody led Wyoming with 24 points.
Taylor finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Brad Jones and Brandon Ewing each scored 15 for the Cowboys.
Dermody hit three 3-pointers during a 19-4 run that gave Wyoming a 26-15 lead with 11:25 remaining in the first half. New Mexico pulled within 39-32 10 minutes later, but Wyoming scored the final nine points of the period to take a 48-32 lead into halftime. The Lobos got back into the game with a 16-2 run to open the second half.
Senior Jamaal Smith
Junior Chad Toppert
Senior J.R. Giddens
Junior Daniel Faris
UNM-WYOMING: LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE
Aaron Johnson tied his season-high with 14 rebounds and Darren Prentice's 3-pointer started a second-half scoring run by New Mexico that carried the Lobos to a 91-83 win.
Wyoming got 21 points from Brad Jones and James Spencer, but Brandon Ewing, the leading scorer in the conference with a 20.4 average, was held to a season-low 4 points.
The Cowboys led through most of the first half but New Mexico took the lead for good on Prentice's 3 with 10:40 left. That snapped a 44-44 tie and kicked off a 12-3 run by the Lobos.
After Cowboys center Bienvenu Songondo hit a free throw, Lobo Roman Martinez hit a shot inside and Johnson followed with a 3-point play. Jones hit a pair of free throws for the Cowboys and New Mexico's J.R. Giddens countered with an offensive rebound basket. Giddens beat the Cowboys to the rim to retrieve his missed free throw and rolled the ball over the front of the rim. Martinez closed out the run with a layup off a steal.
Ewing found very few open shots against New Mexico's trapping and switching defense. He finished 2-of-12 from the field, 0-of-5 on 3-pointers. An 80 percent free throw shooter, Ewing was 0-for-3 at the line.
Reserve Ryan Kersten scored a career-high 20 points for New Mexico and Prentice 12. It was Prentice's ballhandling and passes to open teammates that kept New Mexico's offense in sync.
COLORADO STATE RECAP AND POSTGAME NOTES
Chad Toppert came off the bench to score a fistful of 3-pointers, leading New Mexico to a 91-51 rout Tuesday 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.
Junior Chad Toppert
Senior J.R. Giddens
Junior Johnnie Harris
Freshman Dairese Gary
Freshman Jonathan Wills