Stevens: Lobos' Path To Net-Cutting Celebration Goes Over Wyoming

March 1, 2013

New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball -Mountain West - In The Pit

Saturday: 3:05 p.m.(MT) - Wyoming (18-10, 4-10) at No. 14/14 New Mexico (24-4, 11-2) - Bob King Floor (15,411)
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

The gravy, the icing, the celebration, the Pit madness is there waiting to be spread throughout University Arena. There are two seniors - Chad Adams and Jamal Fenton, the winningest in Lobo history -- to be recognized and honored.

There are championship nets to be cut.

The joyous celebration that Coach Steve Alford and his Lobos want is there for the taking - there for the earning.

"Hopefully we can finish it on Saturday. It's pretty much top of our list of things we desire," said Alford of clinching a MW title in The Pit.

"We can win a championship on Senior Day and nothing would be more fitting for the two winningest Lobos, Chad Adams and Jamal Fenton, to win a championship at home in front of 15,000 fans."

Of course, the finishing win should come. This is The Pit. These are Lobos who understand winning and 13 games into the Mountain West season have proven themselves to be the class of the league.

But this is game 14. The Wyoming Cowboys are coming to town to be spoilers.

The Cowboys are the Lobos' first worry. They have been hit and hurt by injury and suspension, but Coach Larry Shyatt has a disciplined bunch that appreciates fundamentals and honors possessions.

For sure, the Cowboys need to rise above their recent standards in order to topple No. 14 New Mexico, but maybe all these distractions will prove to be, well, distractions for the Lobos.

Maybe the Lobos won't shoot that well. Maybe they will get lazy on the boards. Maybe the Cowboys will shoot lights out.

And maybe all these distractions will simply serve as motivation for the Lobos to stampede the Cowboys out of the sold out Pit.

Lots on the line......

A league title is a league title, however a win over Wyoming not only clinches at least a tie, it puts UNM in great shape to win the 2013 Mountain West title all alone.

It's always best not to look directly across from you and see another team holding an identical trophy. Competitors want to look down.

The Lobos also are building an impressive NCAA resume. The Lobos, a lock for an at-large bid, could be seeded anywhere from a two seed to a four seed, depending on what the Lobos do the final three regular-season games and in the MW tourney.

A loss to a struggling Wyoming team in The Pit would not be good. The Cowboys are 4-10 in league play and have only two wins in their past ten MW games.

The Cowboys have a healthy 6-foot-7 Leonard Washington back on the court and his 13.9 points and 9.2 boards a game are crucial to Wyoming's play. The 5-10 Derrious Gilmore is the only other `Poke in double figures with a 12.0 average, but 6-8 Larry Nance Jr., is a pest inside scoring 9.6 point a game and averaging 6.8 boards.

"Leonard Washington is back and they are a whole different team when Washington is there," said Alford. "He's a very good player. We know we are going to get a very good defensive team in here and a team that will fight us.

"We have to find ways to score and our key has always been guarding."

The Lobos are No. 3 in the Mountain in field goal defensive allowing opponents to shoot at a .392 clip. They are particularly nasty in the final five minutes.

The Lobos are led in scoring by 6-4 Kendall Williams with a 14.1 average. The 7-foot Alex Kirk is at 11.9 with a 9.8 board average. Tony Snell has an 11.5 average.

Senior Chad Adams

Senior Jamal Fenton


Probable StartersHTPositionSeason Statistics
10 - Kendall Williams 6-3Guard14.1 Pts. - 4.7 Asts.
21 - Tony Snell 6-7Wing11.5 Pts. - 2.8 Asts.
53- Alex Kirk 7-0Center11.9 Pts. - 8.0 Rebs.
03 - Hugh Greenwood 6-3Guard7.7 Pts. - 5.1 Rebs.
41 - Cameron Bairstow 6-9Post8.8 Pts. - 5.3 Rebs.

The NM BenchHTPositionSeason Statistics
04 - Chad Adams 6-6Forward4.9 Pts. - 3.4 Rebs.
13 - Jamal Fenton 5-9Guard3.9 Pts. - 1.4 Asts.
40 - Demetrius Walker 6-2Guard5.0 Pts. - 1.2 Rebs.
01 - Cleveland Thomas 6-3Guard1.0 Pts. - 0.8 Rebs.
23 - Nick Banyard 6-8Forward0.9 Pts. - 1.5 Rebs.
02 - Chris Perez 6-1Guard1.0 Pts. - 0.0 Rebs.
24 - Kory Alford 6-4Guard0.1 Pts. - 0.1 Rebs.

Coaches: Steve Alford (head), Craig Neal, Duane Broussard, Drew Adams