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February 20, 2011Steve Alford was an angry man Saturday night, and as the head coach of the New Mexico Lobos he had a right to be.
The Lobos should have beaten Utah in the Pit, but didn't, instead losing 62-60.
There's nothing new about that. UNM should have beaten Wyoming, Dayton, Northern Iowa and several other teams, but didn't.
New Mexico has a team that can find a way to lose to almost anyone.
This time, it was shooting. The Lobos shot 35.9 percent from the floor. They hit only 4 of 16 (25 percent) of their 3-point shots. While UNM made 18 of 24 foul shots, junior Phillip McDonald missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17 second left. McDonald is a junior who was counted on to be a star, the go-to guy this year for New Mexico. But he has not come through.
Most people will remember a 3-pointer by Utah's Chris Hines at the buzzer as the deciding shot of the game. But it was one of the few plays in the game that Alford didn't criticize.
"We did a good job defensively. He just made a play,'' Alford said.
"This is a game we should have won and we didn't. This is really a tough, bad loss,'' an obviously frustrated Alford observed. "It has kind of been a year of that. Shooting continues to plague us. We've got to find ways to score.''
McDonald made one of seven shots, which was a continuation of a disappointing season for him. Freshman Tony Snell had been a bright light for the Lobos in the last six or eight games. He made 1 of 6 from the floor and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
Alford even was guarded in his praise for post player Drew Gordon, who had an impressive 23 rebounds.
"Drew was really good on the backboards. His pick and roll defense was something else.''
The Lobos don't have much time to recover. They play UNLV Wednesday night in the Pit.