Stevens: Lobos Quiet Nevada 75-62 To Set Up Huge Game With Air Force
Feb. 2, 2013
New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball -Mountain West - In The Pit
Saturday: New Mexico Lobos 75, Nevada Wolfpack 62
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The pace suggested a 100-point game. The stats suggested a Lobo romp. The Air Force Falcons' visit on Wednesday suggests a Pit sellout.
The Falcons will be coming to The Pit looking to forge a first-place tie in the Mountain West race. The game is a huge one, but it was set up by an impressive New Mexico win Saturday night in The Pit over a game run-and-gun Nevada team.
If you scrutinize some of the New Mexico Lobo game statistic, you wonder how the Nevada Wolfpack even managed to stick around as long as they did before falling 75-62 Saturday night in The Pit. Consider these numbers:
Sure, the Lobos rolled Nevada out of The Pit by 13 points, but this game was closer than the final score and Nevada had the lead halfway through the second half.
The Wolfpack simply could not stop the Lobos from making shots.
"This was really a grind," said Lobo Coach Steve Alford, whose Lobos are now 19-3 and 6-1 in the Mountain West race.
"I thought Nevada played well. That's as patient as I've seen them run their offense and they hit the glass hard. We got their best shot."
The Lobos had a little trouble stopping Nevada, too, but not at the close of the second half when UNM pulled out of a 51-50 hole by outscoring the Reno Pack 25-to-11 down the stretch.
"I thought our guys played well," said Alford. "They played hard. We were pretty active and we got production from everybody.
"I would have liked to have a little more production on our backboard. That continues to be a concern. We have to continue to work on it. It's a pretty good concern for us. We didn't do the backboard the way we like to do the backboard."
Nevada outrebounded UNM 33-29 on the boards and 10-to-2 on the offensive glass.
Greenwood led UNM in scoring with 15 points going 5-of-7 from the floor. He also pulled down seven boards, had six assists and no turnovers. Walker was next on the scoring line with 12 points and Chad Adams reached double figures with 10 points.
"We have a lot of guys who can hurt you," said Alford. "I'm sure coming into this game their coaching staff wasn't looking at Demetrius Walker and Chad Adams as two guys who were going to hurt them. I was really impressed by what (Walker) did defensively. I thought those two guys off the bench did a lot of good things for us.
"And Hugh can beat you in a lot of ways. He also is one of our best defenders. There are so many things he does well. He has confidence right now from making shots. We got some guys playing at a high level right now."
Said Walker: "It was just my night. I was able to come in and hit shots, and I believe that coach believed I was going to come in and have a big impact tonight. I've been playing really well in practice and I believe he trusted me to go out there and luckily I was able to perform and we were able to come out victorious."
The Lobos' win over Nevada sets up a semi-surprising scenario for Air Force's visit on Wednesday. If Air Force pulls the upset, the Falcons will be tied with UNM and Colorado State for the lead at the halfway mark of the Mountain West run.
"They are coming to Albuquerque for first place," said Alford. "They are loaded with seniors and this is the last go-around for these guys and they are hungry. They are a huge challenge to our defense because of the way they shoot the ball. They are a confident group."
If the Lobos beat Air Force, UNM will make the turn with an impressive 7-1 mark heading into the backside of the Mountain West run all alone in first place.
The Falcons held serve at home Saturday with a 70-67 win over San Diego State. The Aztecs, the team picked to win the 2013 MW race, now had three notches in their loss column. The Falcons will come to The Pit with a 5-2 league mark. Air Force got 20 points from Michael Lyons to hold off a 25-point effort by SDSU's Jamal Franklin. The Lobos also got a boost from Boise, Idaho, where the UNLV Rebels fell 77-72 on a court on which the Lobos found a road win.
Air Force shot 49 percent from the floor in slapping down the Aztecs, who went 2-of-19 from long range. SDSU missed two 3-pointers in the final five seconds hoping to push the game into overtime.
The Lobos did not have an easy time with Nevada and the scoreboard see-sawed throughout the first 30 minutes. The Lobos owned the final 10 minutes.
New Mexico finally grabbed the lead for good at 7:55 on a jumper by Chad Adams that pulled UNM out of a 51-50 hole and pushed them up 53-51. Adams continued to stay hot for UNM and got a field goal at 7:55 and a 3-pointer at 7:07 to hand the Lobos their biggest lead up to that point at 60-53.
The UNM's defense contributed this lead as the Wolfpack had missed 7-of-10 field goals in helping UNM go up by seven. Nevada's Malik Story hit a 3-pointer to pull the Reno Pack to 60-56, but UNM got buckets from Demetrius Walker and Cameron Bairstow to form a 64-56 lead and Nevada - down eight - called time with 4:39 to play.
The Wolfpack had been doing a good job hanging around with solid offense, but, down eight in The Pit, they now needed to win the game on defense by stopping the Lobos.
Nevada got a layup to cut their deficit to 64-58, but Greenwood pushed UNM up by nine with a trey: 67-58. The Lobos had made seven of their past eight shots.
UNM outscored Nevada 8-4 the rest of the way to push the Lobos' MW mark to 6-1.
"This has been a demanding stretch and we have hit February 19-3 and 6-1 in the league," said Alford. "These guys are doing some special things."