Stevens: Alford's Lobos Roll 65-49 at Boise State
Feb. 4, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - On The Mountain West Road
Saturday: New Mexico Lobos 65, Boise State Broncos 49
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The 13 days of Steve Alford's challenge are over and the stretch that Alford said would be like nothing his Lobos had ever before faced, well, gets tougher.
"It only gets harder," said Alford.
The question now is whether those 13 days improved the Lobos enough to start the second half of the MW race with a 3-0 mark which likely would put the Lobos alone atop the Mountain West standings.
New Mexico strolled into Boise State's gym on Saturday and strolled out with a convincing 65-49 Mountain West win. "We're excited," said Alford. "We're 5-2 at the midpoint and we are no more than one game out of first place.
"What a great team to watch and follow this year."
The Lobos, over that 13-day stretch, have been outstanding at both ends of the court. They make the first-half turn with a 5-2 mark, but there is no secret what stands between the Lobos and another Mountain West title: seven more game, including huge payback games with UNLV and San Diego State.
"We know how good Wyoming is," said Alford. "They just beat UNLV (in Laramie) and they'll have a lot of confidence. That game Saturday in The Pit will be a war."
Wyoming slapped down the Rebs 68-66 on Saturday which pulled UNLV down into a tie with the Lobos at 5-2. If San Diego State holds serve later today against visiting TCU, the Aztecs will head into the second half of the MW race at 6-1.
Yep, it's a dog fight.
"This is as proud of a team as I've been in my five years (at UNM).
Coach Steve Alford
The Broncos shot 31.1 percent from the floor. Boise State is 0-7 in the Mountain, but took UNLV into overtime in Boise and lost by two points at SDSU. When the Broncos shot well, they are a threat. They were no match for the Lobos' defense this day in Idaho.
The Lobos have been dominant in their past four wins: 81-42 at Air Force, 71-54 vs. TCU, 85-62 vs. CSU and the 16-point win Saturday at Boise State.
"It was another good performance and another good road win," said Alford. "Our guys are doing some really good things. This was a tough, difficult stretch. We're in a very good league and we were able to beat some very good teams and beat them soundly.
"This is as proud of a team as I've been in my five years (at UNM). I've been as hard on them the past 13 days as I've been on any team I've coached."
Kendall Williams went 7-of-8 from the floor to pace UNM with 18 points. Tony Snell added 13 points and Hugh Greenwood, UNM's freshman point guard, had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. UNM is now 19-4 and 5-2 in league play.
Kenny Buckner scored 11 points for Boise State (10-12, 0-7) which has lost a school-record eight straight games.
"We have improved in the toughness area," said Alford. "We have a high ceiling and we can get better and we're going to get better. We have a lot of weapons, in our starters and off the bench."
The second half of the race begins next Saturday with Wyoming coming to New Mexico and SDSU visiting UNLV. If the Lobos and the Rebs protect their home court, the Lobos will vault into a tie for first place in the Mountain.
UNM came out of the half up 32-25 and the Broncos scored first on a dunk. At the 17:39 mark, UNM was up 37-27, a lead aided by a Williams' trey. Williams pushed UNM to 39-27 on a steal and a layup. At the 15:45 media break, a Bronco trey cut UNM's lead to 39-30.
UNM came out of its huddle and Greenwood and Tony Snell hit back-to-back treys from opposite ends of the baseline. The fat 45-30 UNM lead, the largest of the game up to that point, convinced Boise State to burn a time out.
At the 11:01 media break, UNM was up 47-34. The Broncos needed to start cutting into UNM's lead. Both teams came out of that break with some sloppy play, before Demetrius Walker scored on a drive at 9:21: 49-36.
Greenwood hit a trey off the left side on a feed by Walker and UNM was up 16 points: 52-26. The Broncos really didn't have any defensive answers for the Lobos' multi-pronged attack and Boise also was running short of time.
Snell pretty much quieted any hopes of a Boise rally with a trey and when Walker scored in transition, UNM was rolling at 59-38 - a 21-point lead. UNM coasted in for the road win.
First Half: Lobos 32, Broncos 25
The teams played the first half of the first half fairly even before the Lobos used back-to-back treys by McDonald and Fenton to pull out of a 12-12 tie and into an 18-12 lead going into the final 10 minutes of the half.
Boise State turned the ball over on a walk and overplayed UNM's Green on the right side of the UNM attack. Ball reversal found McDonald wide open again for another trey near the same spot. That bucket gave UNM an 11-0 run and a 21-12 lead.
A third straight Boise State turnover led to Green running in transition and kicking the ball to Snell in the lane for a big dunk. The Broncos' 12-10 lead was now an 11-point bulge for UNM: 23-12.
The Lobos got a fourth straight turnover, but turned it right back and UNM's run ended with a BSU dunk by Marks: 23-14. The Broncos then went backdoor on Williams for a layup: 23-16. Gordon missed a dunk and then an underhanded flip at the other end and the Broncos again attacked the rim, got a layup, and UNM's lead was cut to 23-18.
Gordon then scored back-to-back buckets inside and UNM was up 27-18. UNM got a stop and Snell got a dunk out of transition: 29-18. The Lobos were back up by 11. Boise State cut UNM"s lead to 32-25 at the half.