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November 30, 2011
UNM's balance scoring, defense beat Idaho State
Not one single Lobo scored in double figures against the Idaho State Bengals Wednesday night in the Pit.
And yet UNM dominated in a 65-41 win before an announced crowd of 13,142.
"I've never seen a game like that before," said UNM post A. J. Hardeman, who along with guard Demetrius Walker, scored nine points each to lead the team in scoring.
It was a history-making performance for the Lobos. No UNM team during The Pit's 45-year existence has ever won by 20 or more points and not had a double-digit scorer.
Walker said he and his teammates learned that to win, the Lobos had to play defense. They did it in the final two games of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., over the weekend. They continued it against the Bengals.
"I thought the big key was our defense and that's what we wanted to take out of Anaheim was half court execution and defense and our defense continued at a really good level," said UNM head coach Steve Alford. "This is the third game in a row where we played with our defensive principals without fouling."
The Bengals were held to 29.6 percent shooting, making it the second time this season the Lobos held an opponent to under 30 percent from the floor (New Orleans. 25.5 percent). UNM held Idaho State to several one-shot possessions, out-rebounding the Bengals 51-28.
The Lobos (5-2) needed that type of defensive effort to justify for their shooting woes. UNM was 41 percent from the floor and just 12 of 24 from the free-throw line.
But 10 of 11 Lobos scored with the bench outscoring the Bengals' bench 29-9.
"To win by 20 or more points and no one scores in double figures, that doesn't happen very often," said UNM head coach Steve Alford. "We had good balance."
But Idaho State (1-5) didn't. Guard Melvin Morgan was the team's leading scorer for the fourth-straight game with 23 points, including seven 3-pointers. The rest of the Bengals managed 18 points, respectively.
"He did a really good job getting 19 shots up," Alford said of Morgan. "He was the best shooter from behind the line making seven 3s. But I thought that one guy who scores a whole bunch and the others don't score, that's going to end up being pretty good."
The Lobos held the Bengals to 22 first-half points, with Morgan scoring 13. But most of his points came during a stretch when UNM's Jamal Fenton guarded him.
Morgan's third three-pointer gave him 11 points the Bengals a 17-16 lead with 9:09 left. That was Idaho State's last lead.
Fenton gave the speedy Morgan some space on the perimeter to eliminate the drive, but at 5-foot-9, the UNM guard didn't have the height to challenge Morgan's perimeter shooting.
Enter guard Hugh Greenwood, who at 6-foot-2, shut down Morgan. It wasn't until Greenwood was benched with two fouls that Morgan scored again, on a lay-up over Fenton with 2 minutes left until halftime.
Fenton did exact some revenge on Morgan in the final 33 seconds, hitting a 3-pointer and a steal and lay-up, giving UNM a 35-22 lead.
Following a long road trip and Wednesday' win the Lobos have a chance to relax before Saturday's home contest against Missouri State, at 8 p.m.
"It's been a quick turnaround for us," said Alford. "There has been a lot of travel and we have been in a lot of hotels and now we have a big game now against Missouri State."
New Mexico NEWS