Feb. 19, 2011
A Pit White-Out For Dairese: The Pit will honor one of its top players ever March 5 when Lobo fans say goodbye to Lobo senior Dairese Gary with a "White-Out" celebration vs. Air Force. It's Senior Day and Gary is UNM's only member of that class.
Lobo Men's Basketball - In The Pit
Saturday: Utah 62, Lobos 60
Wednesday: 7 p.m., UNLV at Lobos -- The Pit
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer / GoLobos.com
It was a déjà vu shot for any Lobo fans who can remember the prayer once launched from a similar spot in a similar way in long ago 1983. That Derek Whittenburg prayer turned out to be an air ball that handed underdog North Carolina State a national title thanks to Lorenzo Charles going up and dunking the garbage.
The prayer in The Pit Saturday night was bombed from near the same spot on the same end of the court and - like Whittenburg's bomb - it was mishandled just before being launched. But Utah's Chris Hines' bomb hit more than air. It splashed hard off the backboard and dropped true to break New Mexico's heart 62-60.
"It's a game we should have won and we didn't," said UNM coach Steve Alford, whose Lobos led by 13 points in the second half. "But you have to make plays and they made them and we didn't. We have to find ways to score. We need to make shots."
The Utes won this game by doing what most road teams in the Mountain West are happy to do. They hung around and gave themselves a chance at the end. When UNM's Phillip McDonald missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17.3 seconds to play, Utah had its chance down 60-59.
The Lobos played good defense and forced Utah's penetration back up front. Hines got a pass with around three seconds to play, but fumbled the ball. He had to whirl and heave it. The shot was ugly, but lived up to a shooter code of "S-N-S" - Straight Never Short. The prayer rattled in and the Utes were dancing on The Pit floor.
"We did a nice job defensively and he banks in a three from 35 feet," said Alford.
The Lobos probably shouldn't have been in a position where a Utah prayer could be answered. UNM led 46-33 with 13:35 to play and 47-37 with 12:18 to go. The Utes then banged in three unanswered treys to cut UNM's lead to 47-46.
The Utes never led in the second half, but hung around, until Hines' banker gave them the final lead of the game.
The Mountain West loss took a lot of steam from Drew Gordon's monster game on the boards, who tied a Pit record with 23 boards. UCLA's Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) is one of the other three players to pull down 23. Gordon also set a single-game MWC mark.
"Drew was really good on the backboard. (His) pick-and-roll defense was something else," said Alford. "The job he did on the backboard was really good."
Said Gordon: "I didn't' do what I was supposed to do and then we missed a free throw. It was a bank after he fumbled it. In the end, we lost and that's what hurts the most."
The Pit will honor one of its top players ever March 5 when Lobo fans say goodbye to Lobo senior Dairese Gary with a "White-Out" celebration vs. Air Force. It's Senior Day and Gary is UNM's only member of that class.
The loss drops UNM to 17-10 on the season and 5-7 in Mountain West play. Utah is 12-15 and a loss behind UNM at 5-8. UNLV comes into The Pit on Wednesday coming off a huge win at Colorado State. The Rebs are 8-5 in league play and CSU is 8-4.
Utah hit a number of key 3-pointers in the second half and finished shooting 42.9 percent (9-of-21) behind the line. Utah shot 39.3 percent overall. The Lobos shot 25 percent (4-16) from long range and 35.8 percent (19-53) from the floor.
UNM's Dairese Gary had 21 points and five assists against a single turnover. Gordon added 17 points to his 23 boards. Kendall Williams scored 12 points. No other Lobo scored more than five points and Tony Snell, McDonald, A.J. Hardeman, Jamal Fenton and Alex Kirk combined to go 3-of- 20.
Utah got 15 points from Hines and 15 from Josh Watkins. Shawn Glover scored 12. J.J. O'Brien hauled down 11 rebounds. Glover was 4-of-10 from behind the line and Hines was 5-of-8. No other Utes made a trey. Utah played a clean floor game with only six turnovers. UNM had nine.
"Something is not quite clicking," said Gordon. "Something is not there. It's been a rough road."
Thanks to Gordon UNM won the board battle 41-30. UNM had not lost in The Pit to Utah in the previous eight games, dating back to January of 2002.
Second Half: Utah 31, Lobos 27
Coach Alford likes to see his Lobos get off to a good start in each half. The Lobos did that in the second 20 minutes extending their 33-31 halftime lead to 39-31. Utah called a timeout at 17:07, trying to quiet the UNM run - and The Pit.
Utah scored inside and Gordon did the same at UNM's end: 41-33. Williams missed a breakaway layup, but McDonald dunked the garbage: 43-33. That 10-point lead held up at the 15:11 media break.
Williams threw up a rainbow in front of Alford that barely touched net as it raised the score to 46-33. Utah fought back to 47-40 on a trey by Glover. The Utes banged in another trey from the same spot, the right baseline and Alford called time with the score 47-43. The Utes were hanging around with 9:09 to play.
The Utes did it again; pretty much the same spot and the same amount of points: 47-46. Gordon scored inside and Utah countered to make it 49-48 at the 7:53 media break. The Utes came out of the break and added a free throw to form a 49-all tie.
Gary hit a big baseline trey over pressure to give his Lobos a 52-49 lead. Williams got held on a crossover dribble and went to the line for a one-and-one at 5:40. He made one: 54-51. The Utes scored inside: 54-53.
Gary put the Lobos back up by three, 56-53, on a power drive and a high floater over Utah's Washburn. Utah's O'Brien got fouled on a baseline drive by Gordon at 1:51 and made two: 56-55. Gordon flipped in a short shot inside: 58-55. Utah's Watkins went to the line at 1:10 and made two: 58-57.
It was Gary time for the Lobos. The UNM senior went around a screen at the top of the Utah zone, drove to his left and stepped back to float in an 19-footer. UNM was up 60-57 going into a timeout with 40.8 seconds to go.
Utah's Watkins scored on a drive and Utah double teamed Gary forcing him to pass the ball. Utah quickly fouled McDonald with 17.3 to play. McDonald bounced his free throw off the back of the rim. Utah worked the ball around and Hines mishandled the ball high at the top of the key. He whirled and heaved the ball at the rim - it splashed off the backboard and deep into the net. Utah won 62-60.
First Half: Lobos 33, Utah 31
There was lots of excitement in the first half, but maybe what got The Pit rocking the most was when Alford got into a battle of words with the refs. Alford lost that battle and got slapped with a technical at the 8:43 mark. The Pit and Alford were not happy.
The Utes hit one of the two free throws to go up 17-15. UNM recaptured the lead on a Gary pass to Gordon for a dunk and a 21-19 UNM lead. . Utah went up 22-21 and 25-22.
A Gary trey made it 33-30 and Utah scored to form the 33-31 halftime score. The Lobos had a shot to go up by three more, but a Gary roll off an Alex Kirk pick and the pass back to Kirk failed to produce the trey.