No. 18/21 Lobos fall at CSU 71-63

Head Coach Steve Alford

Just one day after moving into the national rankings, the UNM men's basketball team traveled to Ft. Collins, Colo. and had their poorest shooting night of the 2012 Mountain West Conference slate. The poor shooting and poorer ball handling led to Colorado State's 71-63 win over the Lobos in Moby Arena before 4,444. The win is the Rams' second home win over a ranked MWC opponent this season.

New Mexico (22-5, 8-3 MWC, ranked 18th AP, 21st in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll) shot just 22-of-60 (36.7%) and turned the ball over 17 times and CSU outscored the Lobos 30-24 in the paint and used a four-guard line-up to frustrate UNM on offense and penetrate past the conference's best defensive team with aggressive drives to the basket all game long.

"We didn't shoot the ball very well," said head coach Steve Alford on the post-game show on KKOB 770 AM. "I give them a lot of credit. They (CSU) played very well, that's why they're 6-0 at home. We knew this was going to be a difficult game and we didn't shoot the ball very well for whatever reason. It was a tough night for us and those things happen in a difficult league."

Sophomore guard Kendall Williams paced New Mexico with 16 points on 3-of-13 shooting, scoring the majority of his points at the free throw line, going 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.

Senior Drew Gordon scored 13 points and 6 rebounds. Gordon, who was double and triple teamed throughout the game, injured his knee in the second half but returned to play. Demetrius Walker came off the bench to score 14 points, one point off his career high.

Guard Dorian Green led all scorers with 17 points and four assists. Forward Pierce Hornung scored 13 points and pulled in 15 rebounds for his best performance of the conference season.

"I thought Hornung was good and really the difference in the game. He was just really, really active. We thought we could take advantage with our size but we got beat in the paint. Our bigs could not get going inside and that's a great credit (to CSU)."

After UNM took an early 4-2 lead, CSU began to get its shooting going and lead 9-6 with 12:38 left in the half. The Lobos tied the game 9-9 on a trey by Chad Adams but the Rams went on a 9-2 run to take an 18-11 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the half. New Mexico cut the lead to 22-20 on a Demetrius Walker three-pointer at the 4:50 mark. The two teams battled down the stretch of the first half. CSU appeared to be going into the break with the advantage and momentum when Jesse Carr answered a Kendall Williams dunk with a dunk of his own. But Jamal Fenton drove the length of the court and sank a trey with 2 seconds left in the half. CSU led 30-29 at halftime.

The Lobos briefly took 31-30 lead on an A.J. Hardeman lay up 50 seconds into the second half and the two teams battled to gain the upper hand. With the game tied 36-36 with 15:30 left in the game, CSU surged forward with a 7-0 spurt to take a 43-36 lead. UNM kept it close and again tied the game at 46-46 with just under 11 minutes left but the Lobos could not find the combination to take the lead again.

After another Lobo lull, CSU pushed the lead out to 60-52. A trey by Walker for UNM at 1:43 left made the Rams' lead 64-60 but UM would get no closer.

"I love what this team's done but we've had a lot emotion in the last ten days that they've had to handle," said Alford. "Playing on Tuesday was a short turnaround for us. It's not an excuse but we've had a lot of games in a few amount of days."

Alford said that while the loss was a tough one, CSU has played well at home, as evidenced by their previous win over a ranked team – a 77-60 win over San Diego St., which was then ranked 13th in the AP poll, 13th in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

"We haven't lost in a while, we went 7-0, that's a great streak," Alford said. "We just picked a night to shoot the ball poorly. Normally we'd have one or two guys not play well and then somebody would pick that slack up. But tonight we didn't have that happen."

UNM plays its final road game of the season Saturday afternoon at TCU. The Horned Frogs are also undefeated at home in MWC play and currently sit in fourth place.

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