Lobos Finish 23rd in Final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
April 3, 2012
The University of New Mexico men's basketball team finished 23rd in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, the only Mountain West team to be ranked in the final poll. It marks the 10th time in program history that UNM has finished the season ranked in the final coaches poll, and it's the second time in the last two years.
New Mexico finished the season 28-7, winning a share of the Mountain West regular season title before rolling through Air Force, UNLV, and San Diego State to capture the Mountain West Tournament championship and a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. After dispatching Long Beach State in the second round, the Lobos lost a tight affair with eventual Final Four participant Louisville 59-56.
The 28 wins tied for the second-most in school history, and UNM's 14 wins away from the Pit broke the school record of 13 set two years earlier. The Lobos finished the 2009-10 season ranked No. 16 in the final coaches poll, and that marked the first time UNM finished a season ranked in the coaches poll since 1997-98, when the Lobos finished 21st.
The Lobos were the only team located in either the Mountain or Pacific Time Zone to make the final poll. Louisville was the only other UNM opponent that finished ranked, coming in at No. 4. UNLV, San Diego State, and Saint Louis were all listed in the receiving votes category.
"This was obviously a special year with a special team," said head coach Steve Alford. "What an honor for me to coach this group of young men. The finish the year recognized as a top-25 team is a tremendous accomplishment. We look forward to building upon our successes."
The Associated Press does not release a season ending poll, but UNM was ranked No. 21 in the final AP Poll released prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament.
The Lobo team and Drew Gordon also feature prominently in the official NCAA final statistical rankings, released earlier today, and the squad ranks in the top 25 in six categories, including three top 10s. Also Drew Gordon ranked in the top 10 in a pair of statistical categories.
The squad made the most noise in the defensive ledger, as UNM finished 14th nationally in scoring defense (59.3 points per game), rebound margin (+6.3), seventh in field goal percentage defense (.384) and sixth in scoring margin (+13.4). UNM's 28-7 record, an .800 winning percentage, was 14th nationally, and UNM's 16.4 assists per game ranked 10th.
Gordon, a double-double machine, recorded 19 on the season, good for 10th nationally, and his 11.1 rebounds per game were fourth nationally.
Some of those defensive marks were outstanding when looking at the rich history of Lobo basketball. The 59.3 points allowed per game mark is the lowest ever in the shot clock era, and the lowest total since allowing 59.2 points in the 1983-84 season. The .384 defensive field goal percentage marked the first time that UNM has held opponents for an entire season under 40% shooting since the 1964-65 season (the season in which Steve Alford was born), when UNM held opponents to a .367 field goal percentage.
FINAL ESPN/USA TODAY COACHES POLL Rk School Rec. Points LW 1. Kentucky Wildcats (31) 38-2 775 1 2. Kansas Jayhawks 32-7 744 6 3. Ohio State Buckeyes 31-8 705 7 4. Louisville Cardinals 30-10 661 18 5. Syracuse Orange 34-3 641 2 6. N. Carolina Tar Heels 32-6 624 5 7. Michigan St. Spartans 29-8 566 4 8. Baylor Bears 30-8 564 10 9. Florida Gators 26-11 506 21 10. Marquette G. Eagles 27-8 464 11 11. Missouri Tigers 30-5 425 3 12. Wisconsin Badgers 26-10 424 13 13. Indiana Hoosiers 27-9 382 17 14. Duke Blue Devils 27-7 336 8 15. Florida St. Seminoles 25-10 325 12 16. Murray State Racers 31-2 283 9 17. Georgetown Hoyas 24-9 242 15 18. Cincinnati Bearcats 26-11 216 NR 19. Vanderbilt C'dores 25-11 161 24 20. N.C. State Wolfpack 24-13 146 NR 21. Creighton Bluejays 29-6 129 20 22. Michigan Wolverines 24-10 119 14 23. New Mexico Lobos 28-7 107 22 24. Xavier Musketeers 23-13 92 NR 25. Ohio Bobcats 29-8 91 NROthers receiving votes: Gonzaga 67, Wichita State 56, Saint Mary's 54, Virginia Commonwealth 51, San Diego State 23, Kansas State 22, Purdue 17, Stanford 17, Notre Dame 16, UNLV 12, Saint Louis 4, Temple 4, Pittsburgh 2, Iowa State 1, South Florida 1.