Stevens: Lobos Look To Stay Unbeaten When Vandals Invade The Pit

Nov. 22, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - In The Pit

Friday: 8:35 p.m., University of Idaho at New Mexico Lobos

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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

There were lessons learned by the Lobos in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

1. Don't get behind by 16 points. You don't always make such huge comebacks.

2. Don't put yourself in a position where you have to score six points in 11.9 seconds in order to win. Miracles don't always happen.

3. If you play unselfish, with courage, play defense, rebound, and never say die, sometimes you can rally from 16-point holes and sometimes you can produce miracles.

In The Pit Friday night, Lobo Coach Steve Alford probably will be happy if his 4-0 Lobos put the 1-2 Idaho Vandals in a position where they have to try and rally from 16-point holes.

And it's probable that the Vandals will find themselves in a hole come Friday. The Lobos are back in The Pit and looking at an Idaho team that has losses to Wright State (80-70) and Montana (66-63). The Lobos have cut their 4-0 mark on much tougher meat.

The Vandals appear to have a good shooting team, but don't carry the same effort to the defensive end. That's a mistake going against Lobos in The Pit.

Idaho shoots 49.7 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range. They yield points at a rate of 45 percent. They average 68.3 points per game and give up 69.3.

Idaho's lone win came over Green Bay when the Vandals shot 60 percent from long range and 55.1 percent overall. You shoot like that and maybe you can get by with so-so defense.

It's unlikely that the Vandals will shoot 55 percent in The Pit. If they do, you don't want to be a Steve Alford Lobo at the next practice session.

The Lobos stats - again, formed against tougher competition - aren't as fat. UNM shoots 41.2 percent overall and 34 percent from long range. The Lobos are stingier on defense bending at a 40.6 percentage.

If you don't play good defense against the Lobos, you probably are sending them to the free-throw line and that's a mistake. UNM is shooting an unbelievable 84.6 percent from the line.

If you are looking for a Lobo to foul in crunch time, avoid these guys: Kendall Williams (.939 percent), Tony Snell (.913), Cameron Bairstow (.900) and Hugh Greenwood (.889).

Snell paces UNM in scoring with a 17.5 average followed closely by Kendall Williams at 17.3. Alex Kirk, a 7-foot inside-outside post, is the only other Lobo in double figures at 10.3. Kirk paces UNM on the boards with a 7.3 average followed by Greenwood at 6.0.

The Lobos are 4-0 against Idaho with all four games being played in Albuquerque. It gets worse for Idaho, if you include all Vandal trips into New Mexico. They are 1-16 on New Mexico soil, but 0-16 vs. UNM and New Mexico State.

You combine that with UNM's 85 percent success record in non-conference games played in The Pit and the Bob King Floor tilts heavily in UNM's favor.

The Vandals have a solid inside player in 6-foot-10 Kyle Barone, who is on pace to become the fourth Vandal with 1,000 career points and 750 career rebounds. Barone and Stephen Madison combine to give Idaho a nice inside-outside punch as they both average 17.3 points per game. Barone averages 8.7 boards.

The Vandals are members of the Western Athletic Conference but will be jumping to the Big Sky in 2014-15. UNM is coming off a championship run in the Paradise Jam that included a 66-60 win over No. 21/23 UConn.