Lobo men rebound, crush Colorado St. 85-52

Drew Gordon: 11th double-double of the season

During his Monday press conference UNM head coach Steve Alford talked about his basketball team having to become tough. Wednesday the Lobos responded to their tough week against top 25 Mountain West teams by finding some toughness and taking out their frustrations on visiting Colorado State to take a commanding 85-52 win over the Rams before 14,089 at The Pit.

"I am very pleased with the guys' efforts," said Alford. "One of the hardest things in athletics is when you get knocked down and see how you are going to react and our guys really reacted even better than what we had hoped. I really thought we defended and guarded well tonight, top to bottom, and we got everyone in."

New Mexico (16-4, 2-2 MWC) had a solid defensive effort, forcing CSU into 20 turnovers while holding the Rams to 16-43 shooting (37%) from the field and 3-of-14 shooting from the three-point line.

UNM was absolutely dominating in the paint, out-scoring the Rams 38-18 in the lane and 17-9 on second chance points.

 "I think it's pretty clear to see—even today, even though it has only been a few days—guys are hungrier," said Gordon. "We're getting to loose balls that we weren't getting to in the last two games. He really got on us about be tougher, but it's obviously paying off."

Senior Drew Gordon finished with his 11th double-double of the season, scoring a game-high 13 points and pulling in 14 rebounds. Phillip McDonald came off the bench to score 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting hitting 2-of-4 treys as UNM's bench scored 42 points for the game – compared to CSU's bench which totaled just five points from its bench.

UNM lead from the outset, opening the game with a 10-4 run capped by a trey by Tony Snell, who finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. The Rams found their shooting touch soon after and kept New Mexico from extending its lead. But the Lobos pushed the lead out to 22-12 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.

With five minutes in the half, UNM embarked on an 8-0 run to push the lead out to 43-21 with 2:56 left in the half.

CSU would cut the lead down to 47-29 at halftime and opened the second half on a 5-0 run, but Alford cut the run off by calling a time out and reading the riot act to his team, getting into his players faces during the break. It would not the last time he did so in the game.

"He was in my face all game today," said Fenton. "These past two days he has been preaching about how the next 13 days are going to be the hardest time of our lives, but it's going to be the best time of our lives, too, because the coaching staff is really going to push us to become better and win the Championship."

UNM was able to hold the Rams at arm's length but unable to really seize the initiative until A.J. Hardeman was called for a foul then whistled for a technical foul immediately after to foul out of the game.

The technical seemed to shake UNM out of its funk and they ran away with the game from there, closing the game on a 17-3 run.

""It was tough for A.J. He had a tough night," said Gordon. "Even though he had a tough break, other people were able to pick him up and keep his spirits and the team's spirit high. That (the technical) definitely helped us. We rallied behind it and we stepped up our defense even more."

Alford said the convincing win was good for his team.

"We have been on them and have challenged them and told them that this was going to be the 13 days of challenge," said Alford. "We are now at day two of 13. They know they have to wake up tomorrow and attend. They have to continue this beat and it is a four game stretch before we get to that mid point and before we get to where we have a week off."

"We have told them that we don't care if they are sore or banged up; this is what basketball is at this level," Alford said. "You have got to find a way and tonight they did that. We have two days to get ready for a TCU team that is playing well. They (Texas Christian) have won two in a row and now I have to watch them on television against Air Force. They are athletic and big and they do a lot of good things. We have a team coming in here that has a little bit of confidence so we have to play well on Saturday, but this is a good start to the week."

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