Dec. 19, 2009
Sunday: NMSU Aggies at Lobos, 2 p.m., The Pit
On The Air: My50-TV; 610-AM, The Sports Animal
Online:GameTracker, live video, game story, stats on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobo.com
There is a line in the great book "Prince of Tides" where a young girl witnesses a phenomenal act of nature and asks her mother to "do it again." That's the request Sunday when Lobos war with Aggies Part II: Do it again.
The shootout down in Las Cruces probably doesn't go down as a traditional Don Flanagan game -- the Aggies scored 85 points -- but the Lobos won 92-85 and the fundamentalist Flanagan admitted the run-and-gun affair was a delight to watch.
Well, not so much for a coach, who had a defensive goal of holding the Aggies under 60 points.
"I wouldn't say it was fun (for me)," said Flanagan. " It was probably fun for the players. For a coach, when there is that much scoring, it's not that much fun. It was an offensive output.
"It was an exciting game. It was one of the best New Mexico/New Mexico State games I've been a part of."
Said Lobo Lauren Taylor, who put up 20 on the Aggies: "It was fun. There was a great play on this end and a great play on that end and back and forth and it was a ping-pong game."
The thriller in Cruces might not be repeated in The Pit at such an elevated level at 2 p.m. Sunday. Both teams were shooting the ball lights out in the Pan American Center. The Lobos (7-3) probably have figured out better ways to guard the Aggies, including Jasmine Lowe (29 points vs. UNM). The Aggies (6-3) probably figure they can stop Taylor and Sara Halasz from scoring another combined 40 points.
But it's a good guess that the pace and the intensity will be the same. Flanagan is just fine with that emotional element on the court. It's the type of play his Lobos will see in such exotic Mountain West ports like Laramie, Fort Collins, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Fort Worth, Provo, Colorado Springs.
"The Aggies are very athletic. They run a nice offense. They are well coached, very aggressive, and they want to beat us very badly," said Flanagan. "And that's kind of like conference."
Actually, that`s almost exactly like conference. The Lobos` history of beating Mountain West teams has made the Lobos a top target in the MWC. The two-game series with NMSU is a package that provides the Lobos a look at a talented team playing with a touch of anger in their heart. There is pride on the line here and the Aggies are 0-1 in 2009 vs. Lobos and haven`t won in The Pit since 1995.
"They don't give up," said Taylor. "They go hard and they'll run you right over. They'll be wanting this game."
UNM is led by senior point guard Amy Beggin with a 14.8 average. Taylor comes in at 12.9 points per game. She had scored 20 or more points in three of UNM's last four games and had a career-high 22 points against Arizona. Halasz has scored in double figures in four of the past five games.
NMSU's Lowe matches Beggin's 14.8 average. The Aggies have a lot of balance along the perimeter in Danisha Corbett (11.1), Madison Spence (12.8) and Crystal Boyd (12.9). The Aggies' offense can be exceptional. If they decide to turn up their defense, the Lobos will be in a dogfight.
"They have terrific quickness and they have several players, about four, who are hard to guard," said Flanagan. "This is probably the best State team I've seen. They are quick, shoot well, defend pretty well."
Flanagan said the Aggies aren't "lacking a lot," but don't have that dominate post presence. The Lobos sometimes do, sometimes don't. Senior Valerie Kast has been hot and cold so far this season. She was quite warm in Cruces, scoring 12 points.
Flanagan smiled when asked about his team's defensive goal against the Aggies Sunday in The Pit. "I hate to give anything above 59," he said. "I think we missed our goal by 33 points (in Cruces.) It's probably going to be 59 this week."
That might be a tough goal if the Lobos and Aggies gun like they did in Cruces. Heck, Halasz and Taylor scored 40 points just between them and Lowe canned 29 for NMSU. Beggin usually is the focal point of opposing defenses and that's still a key. But with Beggin battling a sore ankle, Taylor's recent output has been more than helpful for UNM.
"Lauren recognizes how they are defending her and makes adjustments throughout the game," said Flanagan. "She is very aware of the other team's defense and seems to be able to get herself open. She has really picked up what she needs to do to be successful."
Flanagan has always believed you beat teams with polished execution on both sides of the court -- offense and defense. He doesn't like to see teams roll out 85 points like NMSU did in Game One. But the UNM coach also knows his Lobos will be involved in a few more shootouts before the season ends. He needs his Lobos to have high confidence on the offensive side, too.
"I'm OK with (Lobos scoring a lot)," said Flanagan. "I don't like high numbers for our defense. But there are teams in our conference (TCU, SDSU, CSU, BYU) who can score big numbers.
"So we have to be able to score with those guys. I don't want to have to keep those teams in the 50s (in order to win)."
A trial run of some of the MWC shootouts appears to be on hand Sunday. "It's going to be a great game," said Taylor.
Game Notes: The Lobos have won 26 of the past 27 games vs. NMSU. ... ... Ex-Lobo Abbie Letz will do the color for My50-TV and ex-Lobo Nikki Heckroth-Lobato will be the commentator for 610-AM The Sports Animal. ... ... New Mexico is 5-2 at home this year and is averaging 6,946 fans per game with four home crowds over 7,000. ... ... UNM leads the series 39-22 and ride a 13-game win streak in The Pit.