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Lobos Host Wyoming on Saturday
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/07/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 7, 2008

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    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.

    RALLY TIME
    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.

    LOBO BRIEFING

  • It took New Mexico only 20 games to surpass last year's victory total (15-17)...UNM has also equaled last year's win total for conference games (4-10)

  • The Lobos have a 27-14 series lead over Wyoming in The Pit, and UNM has taken 4 straight here....however, only BYU with 16 has more wins against UNM in The Pit than the Cowboys

  • New Mexico is 13-1 at home this year, winning by an average margin of 20.6 points...the lone blemish was a 72-67 loss to San Diego State, a game the Lobos led 24-10 in the first half and 33-25 at halftime

  • Through games of Sunday, Feb. 3, New Mexico was 6th in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 41.6%, a figure that is now 42.4% after UNM canned 12 of 20 Tuesday against Colorado State

  • The Lobos lead the MWC in 3-point FGs (8.52 pg) and 3-point percentage (42.4%)...UNM's 3-point shooting would be the 2nd-best in school history were it to hold up for the entire season

  • How much better is Lobo senior J.R. Giddens' overall game? After 23 games, the 6-5 swingman has surpassed 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

    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 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.

  • UNM staged the largest second-half comeback in a road game in school history, and it's the 5th biggest rally overall...New Mexico's largest comeback on the books was Jan. 15, 1993, at Hawai'i when it came back from 20 points (31-11) to win 61-58

  • New Mexico snapped a 10-game losing streak to Wyoming in Laramie...the last win was 62-61 on Feb. 18, 1995...in that game 13 years ago, the Lobos trailed the Cowboys 30-12 with 3:26 left in the first half

  • Wyoming led 48-32 at halftime, the most points UNM has allowed in the first half this year...Ole Miss led 47-30 on Dec. 1

  • The Lobos made a season-high 14 3s, including 11 of 21 (52%) after halftime

  • After making 8 of 14 treys in the 1st half, UW was just 5 of 22 (23%) after halftime

    Senior Jamaal Smith

  • a career-high 24 points, making 6-10 FGs, 3-5 3s and 9-10 FTs
  • scored 22 points after halftime, including 11 in the second OT
  • added 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a career-high 2 blocks...he had 1 career block coming into the game

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • had 18 points, and 7 rebounds for the 2nd straight game
  • scored 16 points after halftime, making 5 of 6 3-pointers, and a FT
  • had a career-high 5 assists

    Senior J.R. Giddens

  • 16 points and 8 rebounds before fouling out in the 2nd OT
  • made his first shot (a 3-pointer), then missed his next 8 before tying the game at 71-all with a 3-pointer
  • scored 11 points in the final 1:19 of regulation and in overtime

    Junior Daniel Faris

  • scored 13 points and played a career-high 40 minutes, eclipsing his previous high of 32 set against UTEP on Jan. 2

    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.

  • New Mexico trailed 42-38 with 15:18 left in the game, then used an 18-5 spurt to take a 56-47 lead and never trailed a again

  • UNM started the second half 2 of 6 from the floor when Wyoming led 42-38...the Lobos then made 13 of their last 19 attempts (68%) to finish the game at 48% (25-52)...New Mexico shot 60% (15-25) in the second half

  • New Mexico was 36 of 50 from the FT line...that's the most FTs made and attempted since the Utah game on March 1, 2003, when it was 40 of 53...the two teams combined for 57 fouls, 31 by the Cowboys and 26 by UNM

  • The Lobo bench contributed 43 of the team's 91 points and 20 of the 36 individual rebounds

    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.

  • 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

  • The Lobos never trailed and matched their biggest halftime lead (50-24) of the season...UNM also led Presbyterian 50-24 on Nov. 16

  • New Mexico has won 6 of the last 7 meetings vs. Colorado State, and 8 of 10 and 22 of the past 25...UNM has a 36-4 advantage over the Rams in The Pit

  • Freshman Jonathan Wills started for Chad Toppert, the first change in the starting lineup in 14 games, since Dec. 4 against New Mexico State...the quintet of Toppert, Daniel Faris, Dairese Gary, J.R. Giddens and Roman Martinez had started the past 13 games

  • 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

  • The Lobos came into the game leading the MWC in 3-point shooting at 41.6%, and canned 12 of 20 (60%) to raise the season percentage to 42.4%

  • New Mexico tied a season-low for the 2nd time in the past 3 games with 6 turnovers...UNM has committed 30 turnovers in its past 4 home games, an average of 7.5 a game

    Junior Chad Toppert

  • did not start, but had a career-high 22 points on 5 of 9 shots from 3-point
  • has made a 3-pointer in 16 straight games
  • career accuracy from 3-point is 45.60% (161-353), 1st all-time at UNM...Troy DeVries is 2nd at 44.95%
  • has 161 3-pointers in his career, 8th place all-time at UNM

    Senior J.R. Giddens

  • 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals
  • has now set season highs for rebounds (193), assists (68), steals (27) and blocks (26)

    Junior Johnnie Harris

  • 9 points and a career-best 6 rebounds off the bench
  • it's his best output since 11 points vs. St. Bonaventure
  • had scored 7 total points in the first 7 MWC games entering tonight's game

    Freshman Dairese Gary

  • 12 points, 6 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers in 23 minutes
  • 16 assists and just 1 turnover in the past 4 games, covering 113 minutes

    Freshman Jonathan Wills

  • started his 7th game of the season; he started UNM's first 6 games
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