Feb. 12, 2011
Lobo Men's Basketball - On The Mountain West Road
Saturday: Colorado State 68, Lobos 62
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
There is a basic rule for winning a street fight, especially when you are in the other guy's front yard or gym - get in the first punch.
Lobo coach Steve Alford thought a big problem in New Mexico's damaging 68-62 Mountain West Conference loss at Colorado State was allowing the Rams to get in the first blow - and maybe a few more after that. The aggressive Rams threw the Lobos into a 36-22 halftime hole the gritty Lobos could not quite climb out of.
"You can't wait to get punched in the face before you try and dictate how the game will be played," said Alford. "We were very poor at starting the game and being the team that punched first. I thought (CSU) was a much tougher team in the first 20 minutes."
The Lobos did throw up a lot of nice punches in the second half, outscored CSU 40-32, but it was too little, too late. UNM cut the Rams' lead to 63-60 with 43.7 seconds to play on freshman Cameron Bairstow's first trey of the season.
However, UNM was in the position where almost everything had to fall perfectly in order to rally for the win. That didn't happen.
When senior Dairese Gary was stripped of the ball with 14.1 seconds to play, CSU had pushed its MWC mark to 7-3 and the Lobos fell to 5-5 looking at a Wednesday visit to San Diego State.
The Aztecs, 25-1 overall, are 10-1 in MWC play and share the top spot with 24-2 Brigham Young. UNLV lost to San Diego State on Saturday and join UNM with five MWC losses.
"The second half was a breakout for us," said Alford. "The last 20 minutes is the way we are capable of playing. It's unfortunate we didn't get 40 minutes of it tonight.
The Lobos had three players in double figures in Kendall Williams with 16, Dairese Gary with 16 and Drew Gordon with 12 points. The Rams got 17 points from Andy Ogide, 14 from Greg Smith and 13 from Adam Nigon, who went 4-of-8 from 3-point range.
"I thought Ogide really played hard," said Alford. "He was very determined right from the beginning and he got into a very good flow."
CSU shot 45.8 percent and UNM shot 40 percent. Gary and Williams combined for nine assists, but also combined for eight turnovers. Gordon added six turnovers in the paint. CSU had eight steals to two steals for UNM. The Lobos had two more field goals than CSU, but the Rams went 15-of-23 from the line to 8-of-8 for the Lobos.
Second Half: Lobos 40, Colorado State 32
The Lobos come out of the locker room down by 14 and needing to quickly cut into that CSU gap. Instead, the Rams extended their lead to 47-29 --18 points - and UNM's Alford was forced to call a timeout at the 15:58 mark. His Lobos were not playing well, but also not playing at the same energy level as the Rams.
The Lobos came out of the break with a little more movement at both ends of the court. At the 11:53 mark, the Rams were still up 50-36. The Lobos had climbed out of their 18-point hole by four points. A follow by Gordon on a Gary miss made it 50-38 and that 12-point lead convinced CSU to call time.
CSU came out of the break and got a trey from Carr: 53-38. The Lobos then hit a nice stretch paced by Williams. He hit a trey from the right wing: 53-41. The Lobo freshman then came up with a steal and fed Gary for a layup that turned into an old-fashioned 3-point play and UNM was down nine points: 53-44.
CSU's Nigon banged in a trey: 56-44. A Gordon hook made it 56-46 with 7:30 to play. Williams again came up big for UNM scoring on a drive: 56-48. Gordon scored inside to pull the Lobos to 56-50. The Rams got three free throws to go up 59-50 at the 5:06 mark.
Gordon inside off a Gary feed: 59-52. Ogide got around UNM's Alex Kirk with a good head fake and the big Ram finished and sent Gordon to the UNM bench with five fouls. Ogide missed the free shot but CSU had a 61-52 lead with 4:29 to go.
Williams struck again for the Lobos. His trey made it 61-55. Ogide got a dunk followed by a Gary drive: 63-57. Gary missed a tough drive in traffic and CSU called time at 2:34 - up six with 18 ticks on the shot clock.
CSU lost possession on a charge at 1:48. UNM's Williams turned it back over on a charge at 1:28. CSU turned it back on a charge at 58.1. The Rams were still up six with the clock fast becoming a huge factor.
UNM brought the ball down and Gary drove hard only to kick it out to Cameron Bairstow. The freshman made his first trey of the season to pull the Lobos to 63-60 with 43.7 to play.
The Lobos could have played defense and looked for a stop, or sent the Rams to the line. UNM decided to foul and Green hit two free throws to push CSU up 65-60. Gary made it a three-point game again with two free throws with 27 seconds to play: 65-62.
CSU's Jesse Carr made a single free throw to form a 66-62 lead with 24.1 seconds to play. The Rams won the game by stripping Gary on a drive at the 14.1 mark, and getting two free throws from Dorian Green at the line with 8.4 seconds to play. CSU grabbed the 68-62 MWC win.
First Half: Colorado State 36, Lobos 22
Lobo Stat Leaders: Snell 7 pts., 4 rebs.; McDonald 5 rebs.
It was a pretty vanilla first half for the Lobos. New Mexico didn't get the inside-outside game going that had propelled the Lobos to a four-game win streak coming into Fort Collins.
Gordon got into foul trouble and spent a lot of time on the bench. He was perfect from the field in the first half, but only got off one shot, going 1-for-1. Gordon had three turnovers. The Lobos needed that to change.
The Rams had more field goals, more 3-pointers, more rebounds, more assists, fewer turnovers and four steals to none for the Lobos. The end result was their 14-point lead. CSU shot 48.1 percent in the first 20 minutes to 32.1 percent for UNM. The Lobos got a good half from Snell with seven points and four boards.
The Lobos weren't in bad shape down 18-12 going into a CSU timeout. Both teams were playing with good energy and the pace of the game was lively. However, the Rams upped their level of play adding 10 unanswered points to finish off a 14-0 run that extended their lead to 28-12. A Nigon trey produced that 16-point lead and Alford called a quick timeout.
CSU's run went to 17-2 as the Rams continued to pull away. Snell scored four straight points for UNM to help the Lobos slide into half down by 14 points.