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January 17, 2013

Lobos go 3-0 in MWC after big road win

The New Mexico Lobos had Boise State right where they wanted the Broncos Wednesday night.

UNM had a close game that even went to overtime. UNM plays its best in the closing minutes of a tight game and it did that again this time, beating Boise State 79-74 in overtime.

Don't look now, but the 19th-ranked Lobos are alone atop the Mountain West Conference standings as the only team unbeaten in league games at 3-0. San Diego State lost to UNLV in a late game Wednesday night.

This was a New Mexico-type of game. The score was tied 13 times and the lead changed 13times. The result was UNM improving to 16-2 with a tough-to-get road win in the MWC.

And the star for the Lobos this time was Tony Snell, a guard who had been invisible through the early part of the season. Snell had 22 points by hitting 7 of 12 from the floor in 38 minutes. He showed aggression that had been lacking through the early season.

``I've got to learn to be aggressive in every game,'' Snell admitted. ``It definitely feels good having a road win. This is a bigtime win. In this conference, it definitely is good to win at their house.''

Four times the Lobos have played teams who were beaten at home, and New Mexico has won all four games this season.

It is hard to explain how New Mexico won. It didn't shoot well (43.1 percent), was out rebounded (38-33) and had more turnovers (14) than assists (11). The two big men who had looked so good had an off night with Alex Kirk making just one field goal and Cameron Bairstow only two. Team leader Kendall Williams finished with 11 points but was 3-for-7 from the floor.

Hugh Greenwood, who was fighting the flu, had a good game with 15 points. He hit 3 of his 6 shots from 3-point range and scored a crucial basket on a layup by driving to the rim.

``I'm exhausted. I haven't eaten in 24 hours. I haven't slept for 24 hours. I was feeling it a lot. It was difficult,'' Greenwood admitted.

It was simply a matter of the Lobos performing under press - again. ``We've made shots when we need to,'' Greenwood noted. ``That's been the thing all year.''

``To be sitting here at 16-2 is a real accomplishment,'' coach Steve Alford said with pride. ``We do a good job of making shots in overtime. I think our guys were feeling pretty good going into overtime.'' UNM is 2-0 in overtime games this season.

Though they were picked third in the MWC in preseason polls, the Lobos now are the team to beat in the MWC. At 3-0, they have an advantage just a week and a half into the conference season. Out of the top six teams in the league, three already have home losses - San Diego State, Wyoming and now Boise State.

And New Mexico has the weekend off. The Lobos play again next Wednesday against Colorado State in the Pit with a 6 p.m. start.


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