Stevens: It's A Midnight Howl -- Lobos vs. Wildcats

Nov. 11, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - vs. Davidson University

When/Where: 11:59 p.m., Monday - The Pit
On The Air: 770-AM KKOB; ESPN-TV

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

Is it possible that Red Bull or 5-Hour Energy will be the most popular items at The Pit concession stands Monday night/Tuesday morning?

Maybe. But Lobo fans might have to beat the New Mexico Lobos and the Davidson Wildcats to those pick-me-up energy drinks.

Lobo fans are reminded that when they open their mouths for the Lobos expected run-and-gun romp with Davidson College that they are to yell - not yawn. Well, not because the game will be boring. It won't be.

But did Lobo fans plan ahead like Coach Steve Alford and his Lobos, who threw in a few late-night practices last week to prepare for shooting free throws and jumps between midnight and 2 a.m.?

Hey, it's not too late to get in a quick power nap prior to game time. But, really, that might not be necessary. The Davidson Wildcats return five starters and eight of their top scorers and rebounders from last year and this looks like it might be one of the best games played in The Pit this season.

The Wildcats expect to run and win.

The Lobos expect to run and win.

The Wildcats and the Lobos tip off at 11:59 p.m. on Monday and then drift into the wee hours of Tuesday morning to complete this made-for-ESPN extravaganza.

ESPN's 24 Hours of College Basketball-Tip-Off Marathon should be a lot of fun. This really is a Lobo Midnight Howl.

The game -- sponsored by 93.3 KOB FM and not Red Bull -- will be a Red Out Game. . Alford, 126-46 in his first five seasons at UNM, is asking for all fans to wear Lobo red to the game.

The Lobos have some pre-game activities planned for fans coming out for "Late Night With The Lobos." The event starts outside The Pit with "Howl Glow", sponsored by Envy Night Club at Route 66 Casino Hotel. The Glow will be held in the parking lot on the northwest side of The Pit from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The event features a live D.J. playing tunes and Pizza will be on hand, selling pizza for a $1 per slice.

There also will be a Lobo Mini-Glow featuring three hot-air balloons all a-glow from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Of course, the main course will be served up inside The Pit when the Lobos and the Wildcats start glowing up the scoreboard. It's not that these teams don't emphasize defense. They do. But the talent and the shooters on the court will be tough to control.

There might be a good reason ESPN put this game in a late-night slot. On paper, the Lobos and the Wildcats look like a great reason to stay up late.

"They are extremely good," said Alford. "They shoot the ball from every position from the three. They guard you."

Davidson comes into The Pit off a 25-8 season and pretty much was the bully of the Southern Conference. They became an NCAA Cinderella darling in 2008 when they beat Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin to slam into the Elite Eight.

That dream run was ended by eventual national champion, Kansas, 59-57.

The Lobos have a dual problem with the Wildcats. The Lobos have to stop Davidson's star -- junior De'Mon Brooks - but the Lobos have to worry about a lot of other Wildcats, too. And maybe another star -- Jake Cohen.

Cohen and Nik Cochran were preseason all-league picks and Brooks was the preseason Player of The Year.

Brooks obviously is the key on the perimeter, but Davidson returns 98 percent of its scoring from last year and 94 percent of its rebounding. This is an experienced squad playing on a team with tradition. Every four-year player in the program since 1994 has played in the NCAA Tournament.

Brooks averaged 15.7 points and 6.2 boards last year. He scored 24 in the season opener vs. Emory. He went 8-of-12 from the floor. Jake Cohen had 13 points, eight boards and six blocks. Chris Czerapowicz scored 15 points and JP Kuhlman had 14 points.

The Wildcats might have leaned a bit on Brooks, but they also won with team balance - and good shooting. Davidson (1-0) shot 56.7 percent in the second half, going 6-of-8 from 3-point range.

The Wildcats shot 48.5 percent overall and 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) behind the long line. Heck, they even made their free throws: 19-of-24.

If you want some quick perspective on how balanced the Wildcats are, consider this: The team had two SoCon Players of The Year last year. Brooks got the nod from the SoCon coaches and Cohen got the honor from the league's media. It's the first time two players from the same team have split the honor.

The Lobos won't be split on how to guard these two Wildcats. Brooks goes inside and out and the Lobos will have to put a mobile defender on the 6-7 Brooks. Cohen is a 6-foot-10, 235-pound senior and will be looking at Lobos Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow.

The Lobos might not get a taste of Red Bull on the sidelines, but they will have a bull of a Wildcat to deal with in the paint.