Dec. 19, 2009
Saturday: Lobos 66, Creighton 61
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The talented Lobo junior actually has been a quiet hero time and again for the Lobos. Saturday night in The Pit he was as obvious as tuba in the flute section in the Lobos' dramatic 66-61 win over the Creighton Bluejays.
Hobson sliced into the Bluejays in so many ways. Take your pick of this mobile junior's gaudy stats. He hauled down 16 rebounds. He dished out six assists. He scored 22 points.
"That's a phenomenal night's work," said Lobo coach Steve Alford. "In my mind, he did a lot of this in the second half. He really came up big for us."
So true. Hobson had three points and five rebounds at the half. He seemed to wake up at halftime, no doubt a result of something Alford might have mentioned in the locker room. "He said so much, I couldn't remember," said Hobson, half joking. "He was mad. He told us to get back on transition and get some (defensive) stops."
No doubt, the Lobos needed some stops. Their No. 19 ranking and their undefeated record was in jeopardy as Creighton jumped to a 40-28 halftime lead after smoking the Lobos' defense with a 71.4 percent shooting effort in the first half. The Lobos also needed a hero. Hobson stepped up by scoring 19 second-half points.
"What a great night," said Martinez of Hobson's effort.
It wasn't simply the points that Hobson threw down on Creighton that was so punishing to this visitor from Omaha. It was the way he was doing it. Here's a example:
Creighton was up 44-43. Hobson got a pass at the top of the trey and had an open 3-pointer. He spotted Martinez coming off a cut and flipped a pass to Martinez on the left side. The Lobo senior launched a soft trey, but missed. Hobson was there flying through the air for a sweet follow. UNM was up 45-44. It was UNM's first lead of the game.
"Coach Alford challenged our effort, mostly on the defensive end," said Martinez. "We took their biggest punch, but we came out and didn't quit. We weathered the storm."
Said Alford: "I thought in the first half, we had no emotion."
The storm wasn't over when Hobson pushed UNM into that lead. The Bluejays went up 48-45, 50-47 and 54-53. No big deal. Hobson struck again. He bombed in a trey to put UNM up 56-54. He made a layup to give the Lobos a 59-57 lead. UNM never trailed again in raising its record to 12-0.
This also was a "Pit Game" to be remembered. UNM trailed by 16 points in the first half -- 31-15. The Lobos' rally was the second biggest comeback in Pit history. There were 14,333 bodies jammed into The Pit Saturday night.
"They helped us for sure," said Martinez. "Everytime we scored, it was like a last-second (winning) shot."
Said Alford : "I've been in a lot of games in The PIt, but in this one the Pit crowd was worth 15 (points)."
Hobson was joined in double figures by Martinez with 11 and Dairese Gary with 12 points. Martinez added 10 rebounds. UNM ended with 44 rebounds to 40 for Creighton. UNM outrebounded the Bluejays 28 to 16 in the second half. UNM shot 20.6 percent in the first half and 39.4 percent in the second half. The Bluejays shot 71.4 percent in the first half and 20.8 percent in the second half.
The Lobos got off 67 shots to 45 for Creighton. Those numbers were influenced by UNM's board work (22 offensive rebounds) and 18 Creighton turnovers to five for the Lobos.l
"Our transition defense was terrible in the first half," said Alford. "I think it was a shock to us because we couldn't make anything. We were just hoping they weren't going to shoot 71 percent all night."
A few times in the second half, Alford walked away from the UNM bench and waved to his Lobos to get their hands up on defense. The UNM student section reacted like they thought Alford was urging them to get rowdy. They did. It helped.
"The run coming out of halftime was big," said Alford. "We're down and couldn't throw it into the ocean and our crowd is still into it. We really appreciate our crowd."
Said Hobson of The Pit crowd: "Without them, I don't know if we would have won."
The Lobos came out of the half down 12 points and needed to quickly cut into Creighton's lead and also cut into Creighton's confidence. Dairese Gary worked on the lead thing right away. The junior scored on a layup and added a foul shot to make it 40-31. Hobson scored on a follow: 40-33.
Hobson drove the lane and finished with a finger roll to pull the Lobos to 41-35. Creighton called a timeout at the 17:52 mark trying to cool down the Lobos and quiet down The Pit.
Martinez got The Pit rocking at the 15:02 mark when he drove the baseline, hung in the air to flip in a short jumper, and got fouled. That 3-point play made it 44-38. Creighton turned it over on a shot-clock violation and The Pit went nuts.
That probably was the beginning of the end for Creighton. Will Brown came down and threw down a dunk. A Bluejay shot was tipped at the other end and Jamal Fenton came down and threw in a trey. It was 44-43 with 13:35 to play. Creighton still had the lead, but the momentum of this game had shifted too much in favor of the Lobos.
First Half -- Creighton 40, Lobos 28
The Lobos fell into a 12-point halftime hole thanks to a 7-of-34 shooting effort from the floor -- 20.6 percent. The Lobos were 3-of-15 from the 3-point line (20 percent) and had been outrebounded 23-16. The Bluejays' side of the gym had a more favorable rim. Creighton shot an amazing 15-of-21 from the floor for a 71.4 percent shooting rate.
It was probably a good thing Creighton shot well in the first half. The Bluejays had 13 turnovers to three for UNM. The Lobos had seven steals to none for the Bluejays. Creighton also was whistled for 16 fouls, to 11 for the Lobos.
The Bluejay rebounding stats obviously were helped by UNM's bent shooting touch. The Lobos had 10 offensive rebounds, but Creighton still had 21 defensive boards. The Lobos' key in the second half was obvious: play better defense, hit a few more shots, chip away at Creighton's confidence.
Creighton took an early 8-2 lead with UNM scoring on a Gary floater in the paint. Martinez cut that lead to 8-5 on a trey near the top of the key. Martinez left the game at the 17:09 mark with two fouls. The Bluejays went up 10-5 on a layup/follow off a missed free throw. McDonald cut that gap to 10-8 on a 3-pointer. Lawson scored inside to make it 12-8 in Creighton's favor going into the 15:58 media timeout.
The Bluejays opened the game shooting 5-of-6, missing their last shot going into the first break of the game. UNM was shooting 3-of-8. The Bluejays were up 5-to-2 on the boards.
Hobson cut the gap to 12-10 on a finger roll that also put the junior at the line for another point: 12-11. His drive was fueled by a Gary steal under the Creighton basket. Creighton came out of the break in a zone. The Bluejays were up at the 11:47 media timeout, 16-11. The Lobos were still shooting badly, 4-of-15, but only down five points. Creighton was 7-of-11 (63.6 percent) from the floor and up 11-5 on the boards.
It was board work that put Creighton up 18-13. Wayne Runnels followed a missed shot, pushed it back in and added another point from the foul line: 19-11. Alford inserted Martinez back into the lineup, hoping to add some juice to UNM's offense. The Bluejays were still in a zone. Hobson was hammered on a dunk and missed -- no call. Creighton came down and scored on a drive, plus the free throw: 22-11.
Hardeman finally moved the board for the Lobos at the 9:46 mark, going to the line for two free throws and making one: 22-12. Hardeman got a steal at the other end and was fouled. He was looking at a one-and-one with 9:01 to play in the half. He missed. Darryl Ashford came down and hit a baseline trey in front of the UNM bench. Creighton was up 25-12 and Alford called a timeout with 8:31 on the clock.
Martinez came out of the break and banged in a long trey: 25-15. The Lobos also picked up their intensity on defense and created two quick turnovers. At the 7:54 media break, it was Creighton 25, UNM 15.
The Lobos' movement on offense improved a bit, but not their shooting. They also seemed to lose that momentary fire they had found on defense. The Bluejays drifted up 31-15, a 3-pointer by Stinnett convinced Alford to burn another timeout.
UNM came out of the break with a little fire again. A mad scramble under the Lobo glass put Martinez at the line with 5:30 to play. He hit both and UNM was down 31-17. Brown fouled Runnels on a drive at 4:58. The Bluejay was looking at a one-and-one and missed badly. Chad Adams was fouled on the rebound and went to the line to shoot two. He made the second: 31-18.
The Lobos got the ball back on a turnover and Garth was at the line at the 4:20 mark. The sophomore made two: 31-20. The Lobos had found a good spot to shoot from -- the line. Stinnett then put Creighton back on the board by driving on Gary and tossing in a short jumper in the paint. Hobson turned the ball over on his second straight charging call. The 3:40 media break had Creighton up 33-20.
The Bluejays then had back-to-back turnovers that fired up The Pit and moved the scoreboard to 33-23. Ashford drove on Adams for a pullup jumper: 35-24. Kaleb Korver hit a 15-footer for Creighton followed by two points from Will Brown on a drive: 37-26.
Bock added a point for Creighton on a Fenton foul: 38-26. The Bluejays fed their big man inside, who was fouled by Gary with 34.8 to go. Lawson made both free ones: 40-26. Gary got fouled underneath with 2.2 seconds to go and formed the halftime score of 40-28. The Lobos went into the locker room down 12 and probably not looking forward to their halftime chat with their coach.