Stevens: With Highlands in The Past, Lobos Eye Davidson's Visit

Nov. 5, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - In The Pit

Monday: New Mexico Lobos 92, New Mexico Highlands 70
Up Next: 11:59 p.m., Monday, Nov. 12 vs. Davidson - The Pit

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

With New Mexico's 92-70 pounding of New Mexico Highlands in the Lobos' rearview mirror, maybe it's not too early for Lobo fans to start stockpiling a little sleep for the midnight coming of Davidson.

For sure, that season opener will be "Late Night With The Lobos." Lobo fans drive to The Pit Monday night. They leave Tuesday morning.

But it should be worth the next-day nap. The Davidson Wildcats are good.

"It was kind of a wild game and it gives us some tape to watch, but we will turn our attention immediately to Davidson," said Lobo Coach Steve Alford after the win over Highlands. "They are extremely good and they run the court as well as anyone we'll see this year.

"My biggest concern right now is Davidson."

The Lobos found another exhibition play toy Monday night in The Pit and put the Highlands Cowboys away by 22 points. It was a good thing this game was won in the first half when New Mexico ran up the ramp with a 26-point lead.

The Cowboys walked up the ramp at the break a pretty undisciplined team, but came back changed. They tried to change the rhythm of the game, too.

The Cowboys ran some offense. They played some defense. The Lobos came down changed, too - a little flat which happens when you go up the ramp up by 26.

"I thought the second half just got sloppy," said Alford. "That's a credit to them. They threw the rhythm off in the second half."

The Lobos had six players in double figures with Alex Kirk, in his first run of 2012-13, leading the way with 16 points. "It felt good," said Kirk. "But our ultimate goal and what we have been talking about is Davidson."

Kirk was joined in double figures by Cameron Bairstow with 14, Kendall Williams with 12, Tony Snell and Chad Adams had 11 apiece, and Hugh Greenwood had 10 points.

Kirk was the game's top board man with eight followed by Bairstow with seven. Greenwood had five assists and five steals. UNM won the board battle 55-to-36.

"I was pleased with what I saw out of him today," Alford said of Kirk. "It's very difficult to sit out a year. Today was a very good first step for him.

"It was a game that got crazy, yet we only gave them nine free-throw attempts. I thought we really hurt them on the backboard when we needed to."

The Lobos shot 47.1 percent in the first half and 34.4 percent in the second half. The Cowboys shot 29.3 percent in the first half and 42.9 percent in the second half. Highlands shot 37 3-pointers and made 12. UNM was 3-of-13 from long range.

"I thought we kept cool and handled our heads," said Kirk. "It was important just to get in there and get a feel for (the game). I felt really good towards the end. I'm just going to go out there and play as hard as I can. I'll do what I have to do for the team."

What Kirk will have to do next week against Davidson might be similar to what he did against Highlands: rebound, score and protect the paint. Like Alford said, Davidson is good.

Consider just a little Wildcats' preseason hype:

  • They return all five starters and the top eight scorers and rebounders off last year's 25-8 team.

  • They were the preseason pick by both coaches and media to in the Southern Conference.

  • Davidson's De'Mon Brooks was the preseason Player of The Year while two more `Cats made the preseason All-Southern team: Jake Cohen and Nik Cochran.

  • The 6-foot-7 Brook scored 15.7 points and hauled down 6.2 boards. He was the Southern Conference Player of The Year in 2011-12 and Associated Press honorable mention All-American. Cohen averaged 14.3 points and 6.1 boards and Cochran went 10.9 with 3.6 assists per game.

    Maybe Monday night in the second half against Highlands, the Lobos were thinking ahead to all that Davidson talent.

    "We lost some concentration," said Greenwood. "The main issue (in the second half) was we couldn't get out and run. We put together a great first half, but we have to do that for 40 minutes. Credit to Highlands. They didn't give up."

    First Half: New Mexico Lobos 58, New Mexico Highlands 32

    The Lobos broke out of a 22-17 game to take a 26-point lead into the break. UNM outscored Highlands by 22 points from the free-throw line.

    Snell paced UNM in the first half with 10 points which was matched by 7-foot Alex Kirk. Kirk went 6-of-6 from the line and added five boards in his first live game in 2012-13.

    The Lobos had four players with seven points: Bairstow, Greenwood, Williams and Adams. Bairstow also had five rebounds for UNM. The Lobos shot 47.1 percent in the half and Highlands shot 29.3 percent. UNM was up on the boards 28-16. UNM shot 26 free throws and made 23. Highlands was 1-of-2 from the line.

    Highlands didn't get off to a good start. It could have been worse. The Lobos lost transition points off a Snell charge and Walker missing a dunk on a nice feed from Greenwood. Still, when UNM went up 8-2 on a Greenwood-to-Williams' dunk, Highlands called a timeout. Snell opened the scoring with a 3-pointer for a 3-0 UNM lead.

    At the 15:14 media break, the Lobos were up 12-5. The Lobos were shooting 4-of-8 (50 percent) at that mark and the Cowboys were 2-of-12 for an icy 16.7 percent. At the 11:51 break, UNM was up 20-11. Highland's shooting bumped up to 21 percent - 4-of-19. UNM's dropped to 38.9 percent. UNM was 3-10 during that stretch from 15:14 to 11:51.

    The Cowboys cut UNM's lead to 22-17, thanks in part to improved 3-point shooting. Highlands then got beat in transition several times on defense and when UNM jumped up 31-17, Highlands' coach Joe Harge burned a timeout. Highlands was hurting itself with undisciplined play on both ends, but bad shots on offense were leading to poor transition defense. The Lobos were taking advantage.

    The Lobos were up 33-17 at the 7:44 break. UNM was shooting 45.8 percent now and Highlands was at 22.2 percent. Highlands' Stuart Sullivan was 3-of-4 from long range. At the 3:40 media break, UNM was up 45-20. Highlands was struggling on both ends of the court. The Lobos rolled into the locker room up by 26.