Stevens: Alford Wants Some Pit Love For Boise State's Visit
Feb. 15, 2013
PIT TICKET ALERT: Boise State is sold out. Only club seats are available for San Diego State & Wyoming.
New Mexico Men's Basketball - Mountain West - In The Pit
Saturday: 7:05 p.m. (MT) - Boise State (16-7, 4-5 MW) at New Mexico (21-4 8-2 MW) - Bob King Floor
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The request by Steve Alford for Pit support probably didn't need to be made. The Pit is coiled like a rattler in the high grass. The Pit is sold out.
If needed, The Pit will strike and bite.
"We always need fan help, but maybe no more than this game," said Alford looking ahead at Boise State's Pit visit on Saturday. "We are beat up. We are going to need a lot of help.
"That (Boise State) is going to be a grind-out game. We need to blow the roof off that place. We're banged up and we are going to need a very spirited crowd to help get us past this game."
In a way, that depends on Alford's Lobos. They have a way of making some Pit games ho-hum. Like when Air Force stepped into The Pit looking to tie the Lobos for the top spot in the Mountain.
Air Force, the team that just beat UNLV, was blown out 81-58. The Pit enjoyed the romp, but did not need to bare its fangs.
That could change on Saturday.
The Boise State Broncos are good, match up OK with the Lobos, and will come into The Pit looking for some payback from their 79-74 overtime loss in Boise.
The Broncos let that game slip away, kind of like what Fresno State did on Wednesday. With these Lobos, you have to finish. Boise State didn't finish in Boise. Fresno didn't finish in Fresno. The Lobos did.
The Lobos have a way of throwing out solid stretch runs and it's really no secret why. They have an edge on doing all those little fundamental things that win ball games. They also play defense like a crocodile protecting its nest and there are so many Lobos who can bit you in so many ways.
The Pit has embraced Alford's Lobos all season long and the Lobo fans realize that there are only three Pit games left to show that love. Boise State is sold out. There are only club seats available for visits by San Diego State and Wyoming.
Join the party!
Really, this is a special run by Alford's Lobos - make that another special run. They were picked to watch San Diego State and UNLV make a run for the MW title, but the Lobos carry an 8-2 league mark into the Boise game.
And it's still a race. Colorado slapped down SDSU last week and is even with UNM in the loss column at 7-2. The Lobos have to visit Fort Collins next week. CSU is the only Mountain team undefeated at home with a gaudy 14-0 mark.
So, `ya think a win over Boise State is important? Alford does. "We need this one," he said. "We have to hold serve at home and then find a way to win in a gym where nobody else has found a way to win."
Alford's Lobos have been finding ways all season - but not at 100 percent. They have MW losses at SDSU and at UNLV, but the Aztecs have dropped to 6-4 and UNLV has faded to 5-5.
The Aztecs still have a shot at the title, but they need a whole lot of help in catching UNM or CSU. The Rams still have nasty road games at UNLV and at Boise. But is there a non-nasty road trip in this cutthroat league?
Consider this: There is no MW team in the top six that has more than one home loss either overall or in league play. And UNM, CSU, Air Force and UNLV are undefeated at home in MW play.
Is this a great league or what?
The Aztecs can help themselves with a Pit win and you can bet that the Lobos might need some Pit love for that one, too. The Aztecs are still desperate. It probably is fair to say the Aztecs will not win the MW title if they lose in The Pit.
Boise State might not find any love in The Pit on Saturday, but they will have the affection of the MW pack behind them.
Boise State is good. If they had hit a one-and-one down the stretch, the Lobos might be a game behind Colorado State. The Broncos have some impressive stats. Like the Lobos, they do a lot of things the right way.
The Broncos are No. 1 in the Mountain in scoring (74.9), No. 1 in free-throw percentage (.748), No. 2 in field goal percentage (.465), and No. 1 in 3-point field goal percentage (.400).
The message here is simple: The Broncos can score.
The Broncos aren't as nasty on the defensive end, but they are not soft. They are a solid team on the defensive boards and they average more steals per game than UNM. They get 16.6 points per game from Derrick Marks and 16.1 from Anthony Drmic. Marks had 27 points in game one. Ryan Watkins had 12 points and 10 boards.
Boise State shot a respectable 43 percent from the floor, but sent UNM to the line 31 times.
The Broncos at 4-5 are probably too far in a hole to be eyeing a MW title, but they need MW tourney momentum - and revenge.
Alford would love The Pit to throw a little love at the Lobos come Saturday - and spit a little venom at the Broncos.
NEW MEXICO LOBOS 2012-13 ROSTER/STATISICS