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November 16, 2010

Lobos surge past Sun Devils

On a night when spurts were the difference, the kids for the University of New Mexico had more spurts and one particularly big one to win.

UNM improved to 2-0 by beating Arizona State 76-62 in the Pit on Tuesday night. A 20-point run in the first half gave the Lobos the lead, and every time the Sun Devils would rally to get close, New Mexico would spurt again.

Freshmen and sophomores scored 46 of UNM's points. Dairese Gary, the only senior on the team, finished with 18 points, but freshman Kendall Williams was close behind with 15. Williams was 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.

"We're growing up quick," said UNM coach Steve Alford, "and that's what we've got to have them do."

New Mexico has started two freshmen, a sophomore, a junior and a senior in its first two games.

"We've got a lot of new guys," Alford admitted. "I hope that is how we are going to continue to grow."

This was the season opener for Arizona State, but a win over any Pac-10 school will be good for the Lobos down the road when RPI ratings begin to be important.

"I think [the win] was very important," noted Gary. "Teams like this, you get a win on them and it helps you out."

The Lobos looked like a collection of inexperienced players to start the game. The Sun Devils had a 13-7 lead with six minutes gone in the game. New Mexico staged an impressive 20-0 rally, and before ASU knew what had hit it, the score was 27-13. Arizona State went more than seven minutes without scoring.

New Mexico had a 35-29 lead at halftime, and things were looking precarious with 11:40 left in the game when ASU narrowed the margin to 50-45. But the Lobos pulled away with the help of 3-pointers, including one by Curtis Dennis and two by Williams.

"We had a huge run in the first half and made runs in the second half," Alford said.

New Mexico's biggest lead of the game was 74-54 with two minutes left.

The Lobos have played two pretty good teams and handled both. Detroit, which UNM beat in its opener Saturday night, put a scare into 11th-ranked Syracuse on Tuesday before losing 66-55 in the Carrier Dome.

But the price of poker goes up on Saturday when the Lobos leave the Pit for the first time for a game against another Pac-10 team when they travel to Berkeley to play Cal. Inexperience normally is more of a problem on the road.

New Mexico has been playing without junior Phil McDonald, who is supposed to be back from an arm injury for Saturday's game. Transfer Drew Gordon will be added to the active roster in mid-December, giving Alford a quandary on who gets how much playing time. But it's a nice problem for a coach to have.


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