Jan. 24, 2008
In a battle of the top-scoring teams in the Mountain West Conference, New Mexico (16-4, 3-2 MWC) visits BYU (14-5, 3-1 MWC) Saturday. Tipoff is 4:05 p.m. from the Marriott Center in Provo.
The game can be seen live on The Mtn. with Rich Cellini and Blaine Fowler, plus live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.
At 16-4, UNM has its best record since 1998-99 when it started 17-4. Additionally, Steve Alford has equaled his best start in 17 seasons as an NCAA Div. I head coach. His 2000-01 Iowa team also started 16-4, and, eventually got to 17-4.
New Mexico improved its MWC record to 3-2 Tuesday with a hard-fought 77-67 overtime win over Utah. It's the third straight overtime game contested by the Lobos and Utes. UNM led 31-19 in the first half, but fell behind 56-47 with 8:35 left in regulation.
BYU is 14-5 overall and 3-1 in the MWC after slipping past league-leading San Diego State 59-56 Wednesday in Provo. The Cougars, picked to win the MWC in the preseason poll, have won 41 consecutive games at the Marriott Center, currently the nation's 2nd-longest homecourt streak. Top-ranked Memphis enters Saturday's game against Gonzaga having captured 42 straight at home.
Rebounds - 169 in 26 games in 2006-07 - 173 in 2007-08
Assists - 60 in 26 games in 2006-07 - 61in 2007-08
Blocks - 22 in 30 games in 2004-05 - 21 in 2007-08
Steals - 25 in 30 games in 2004-05 - 24 in 2007-08
FG Pct. - 47.5 in 2003-04 - 48.8 in 2007-08
Alford is 324-187 (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 facing BYU for the first time in his career.
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-BYU SERIES
It's game No. 122 in a series that started Jan. 29, 1950. BYU has a 71-50 lead and has won 4 straight, 14 of the past 18 overall and 7 in a row in Provo. The Cougars lead 11-5 in MWC games.
UNM-BYU: LAST YEAR IN PROVO Keena Young scored 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead BYU to a 96-83 win.
New Mexico used a 9-1 run that featured five points by Ryan Kersten to cut a 20-point Cougar lead to 12 with 2:00 remaining in the game, but that was as close as the Lobos could get.
In the first half, BYU used a 10-2 run to turn a 10-10 game into an eight-point lead at 20-12 with 12:36 remaining. The Lobos could get no closer than five the rest of the way.
The Cougars controlled the boards with a 41-27 rebounding advantage and out-shot the Lobos 60 to 48 percent from the field. Fifty-eight of BYU's points came in the paint.
J.R. Giddens who went scoreless from the field against BYU in Albuquerque, scored a team-high 19 points followed by Kersten with 13 off the bench.
LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE
Freshman Jonathan Tavernari scored 18 points and BYU used a late first half run to take control in a 70-49 win.
Tavernari tied his career high on a night when Keena Young, the Cougars leading scorer, scored just eight points, six of them in the game's final five minutes. Trent Plaisted added 11 points for the Cougars. Tony Danridge led the Lobos with 21 points as New Mexico scored a season-low point total.
J.R. Giddens, the Lobos' leading scorer, did not start and went scoreless. He left the game with 12:24 in the second half with an injured left ankle.
BYU took control by scoring the last 11 points of the first half for a 37-28 lead. The Cougars hit their last six shots of the first half after the teams had traded the lead 17 times, plus four ties. Tavernari hit back-to-back 3-pointers, reserve guard Sam Burgess hit two free throws and a 3-pointer in the run.
New Mexico got within 43-37 with 13:27 left on a 3-point play by Danridge, but Tavernari hit a layup while all alone under the basket and after Giddens went out, Tavernari hit a bankshot and the Cougars regained the momentum for good.
UNM PREDICTED FOR 4TH-PLACE FINISH IN MOUNTAIN WEST
New Mexico and San Diego State were picked to finish in a tie fourth in the 2007-08 Mountain West Conference race during the league's preseason media gathering in Denver on October 17. Voters were a combination of head coaches and media. BYU was the favorite to win the league.
NEW MEXICO LAST YEAR IN THE MWC
Picked to finish fifth in last year's MWC preseason poll, New Mexico finished 4-12, tying TCU for eighth - or last - place. UNM lost 12 conference games for the first time since 1959 when it finished 1-13 in the Skyline Conference. UNM endured its fifth MWC losing record in the past seven seasons. The Lobos' only winning mark in league play since 2000 was 10-4 in 2005. UNM was 8-8 in 2005-06. New Mexico never had a losing league record from 1984-2000, a span of 17 seasons.
Lobo senior Tony Danridge suffered a broken left fibula during a game with teammates on Oct. 4. He had surgery on Oct. 8 and is likely out for the season. Danridge does have a redshirt year available. A 6-5 senior from San Bernardino, Calif., Danridge averaged 12.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season and was named 3rd team All-MWC. He was the only Lobo to play in all 95 games over the past three seasons, not missing a game to this point in his Lobo career.
Giddens and Smith both missed potential game-winning shots in the final 15 seconds of regulation and Tyler Kepkay missed one for Utah.
The Lobos had nine free throws as they outscored Utah 17-7 in the overtime.
New Mexico held Utah center Luke Nevill, who came into the game averaging a team-high 13.6 points, without a shot in taking a 31-21 halftime lead.
The New Mexico bench was called for a technical foul with 12:04 left. It erased a 3-pointer by Roman Martinez and helped spark an 18-1 run that put Utah up 53-45.
The Lobos responded with a 13-3 run, regaining the lead on two free throws by Martinez with 3:15 left.
Junior Daniel Faris
Junior Chad Toppert
Senior J.R. Giddens
Senior Jamaal Smith
Sophomore Roman Martinez
Freshman Dairese Gary
A REAL PEACH BASKET START
In New Mexico's 59-44 win over Air Force on Jan. 19, the score was 0-0 until the 14:42 mark of the first half. That's when J.R. Giddens got a steal and a breakaway layin. The basket came on the Lobos' 9th possession of the game.
Air Force's first points came shortly thereafter at the 14:10 mark on a 3-pointer by Andrew Henke. The Falcons missed their first 5 shots, got the 3-pointer from Henke, then missed their next 9 to start 1 of 15 from the floor.