The Lobos locked up fifth place in the Mountain West Conference Saturday afternoon and will play Colorado State at 3:30 MST Thursday in the first round of the MWC Tournament.
UNM beat Air Force 66-61 in the Pit to reach 20 wins on the season. New Mexico is 20-11 overall, 8-8 in the MWC. The win was not a thing of beauty, but losing would have been downright ugly.
The game involved 40 fouls and was so rough that at one point it was delayed while the blood was being wiped from the floor.
It was senior day for the Lobos and guard Dairese Gary happens to be the only senior on the team. He was honored after the game and for his swan song in front of the Pit fans, he had 17 points and seven assists. He was 11 for 13 at the foul line and played 37 of the 40 minutes.
New Mexico managed to win in spite of shooting only 39.1 percent from the floor. UNM made only one of eight from the 3-point line in the second half.
Double/double games have become a regular for UNM's Drew Gordon and he had another with 13 points and 10 rebounds. But might have been his toughest. The Falcons sagged inside the whole game and Gordon had only two points at halftime.
New Mexico coach Steve Alford was concerned that his team might have a letdown after beating third-ranked BYU 82-64on the road on Wednesday.
``We were really nervous about it. What happened Wednesday night took a lot out of these guys. Our guys really battled. When you have a big emotional win and you back that up, you've done well,'' Alford said.
Gary agreed. ``It was very difficult. You see it all over the country. You beat a top-ranked team and then you lose by 20. Anytime you play Air Force it is tough.''