No. 17 Lobos Race Past Aggies 73-58, March to 11-0 on the Season
Dec. 15, 2012
Albuquerque, N.M. --- Kendall Williams nearly posted a triple-double with 15 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, leading four Lobos in double-figures as the No. 17 New Mexico Lobos raced past the New Mexico State Aggies 73-58, pushing New Mexico to 11-0 on the season.
The 11-0 start is the second such start in Steve Alford's four seasons, and the win gave UNM a commanding 13.5-3 lead in the Rio Grande Rivalry, which UNM has won in each of the first five years of its existence. UNM is now one of 10 teams still undefeated, although two, Arizona and Florida, face off later tonight.
The Lobos trailed just once in the game, 2-0, as UNM raced out to a 14-6 lead and really never looked back. Despite facing off against the tallest team in the nation, according to KenPom.com, the Lobos blocked 11 shots, tying for the fifth-most in school history. Alex Kirk and Hugh Greenwood each had career-highs in blocks with five and four respectively.
Kirk had another steady game with 15 points, giving him eight straight games in double-figures, and nine of the season. The start of the season for Kirk, who is now UNM's second leading scorer on the team, is a revelation to some, but not for UNM's sixth-year head coach, who just picked up his 445th career win on Saturday evening.
"I said it a long time ago: he's going to be one of the best centers in the west. And he just continues to improve and get better and prove those things right," said Alford. "I think he's a tremendous talent... He's getting much better defensively. He's gotten much better defensively every game. He's doing a lot of good things."
Along with Kirk's 15, Kendall Williams had 15 to tie for the team lead. Williams was a mercenary on the court, piling up numbers all over the place. He had eight rebounds and seven assists with two steals and no turnovers. Over his last three games, he has 22 assists and no turnovers, and it was his seventh game of the season with at least five assists. He is expected to make the Cousy Award watch list next week when it is released.
The other revelation of the night was Chad Adams, the senior from Albuquerque High who led the team in rebounding for the first time in his 104-game career. He had his second career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, as well as a block of 7-5 center Sum Bhullar.
"Chad's been terrific. The transformation in him, the light turning on in him, has been one of the most rewarding things since I've been here," Said Alford. "He's been through an awful lot. You're talking about an individual who's played sparingly in three years and all of the sudden he's dropping double-doubles. He's just doing a lot of good things for us. And I thought a big key tonight was going to be [NMSU forward Tyrone] Watson. And Watson didn't get a field goal. And a lot of that was Chad Adams."
UNM's defense was solid throughout, limiting New Mexico State to .328 shooting from the field and 58 points. UNM also outrebounded NMSU, which was outrebounding opponents by nearly 10 a game entering the contest.
The Lobos committed a season-low six turnovers, and outscored NMSU off turnovers 17-9. The Lobos are now 9-2 against the Aggies under Alford.
The two teams now go to the back-end of the home-and-home, with a meeting at the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. This time, UNM isn't coming off of finals week, which for having all his players going through the rigors of finals, things turned out well in Alford's eyes.
"After having a week where we're one off, enduring finals and finishing up on the academic side, our guys know how serious that is because of how we emphasize it. And we did not practice a whole lot. We had literally zero film until last night because that week is really set for them to finish what they have to do academically. And for them to respond with the effort that they gave tonight, [I'm] extremely pleased."