This time, it was rebounding that won for the New Mexico Lobos.
UNM is 31-2 in the last 33 games when it has outrebounded its opponent.
Getting 25 points and 21 rebounds off the bench, UNM beat downstate rival New Mexico State 78-62 Saturday night in the Pit. The Lobos have a seven-game win streak against the Aggies.
The Lobos improved to 7-1 with the help of a couple of big men who had been pretty invisible through the first seven games. Emmanuel Negudo had nine rebounds and 10 points, both twice his season average.
Cameron Bairstow, a sophomore from Brisbane, Australia, came into the game averaging 4.1 rebounds and finished with seven while he was averaging only 1.6 points and scored six. He had been playing 10.7 minutes a game and was on the floor for 27 minutes on Saturday night.
It was a rugged game through the first half and into the second until the Aggies wore out in the last 10 minutes. NMSU scored only 26 points in the second half. New Mexico State, which has talent, is 2-7 against a strong schedule.
The key statistic in the game was rebounding. Last week, the Lobos needed overtime to beat NMSU in Las Cruces, and the primary reason was that the Aggies had 25 offensive rebounds. They had seven the second time around. UNM had an impressive 48-31 rebounding advantage, and Hamidu Rahman had a career-high 17 boards for New Mexico State. He also had 14 points, for his first double-double.
"Tonight, I thought we beat a really good rebounding team soundly,'' said UNM coach Steve Alford. ``We didn't want to defense second and third shots like we had to all night long down there.''
Instead, UNM was the team with 18 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points. NMSU had one second-chance basket.
"Rahman is a load inside,'' Alford observed. "That's a really big team. All of a sudden, if they make some shots, it's a different game.''
The Lobos had four players in double figures. Dairese Gary, the only senior on the roster, had 16 points while Kendall Williams, one of five freshmen on the roster scored 15. A.J. Hardeman and Phillip McDonald scored 10 each.
The Aggies were without head coach Marvin Menzies, who was in California for the funeral of his father. Assistant Paul Weir was running the team and didn't enjoy his debut in the Pit. ``I'm not happy with anything. We're 2-7 and we just lost. In the second half, we wore down a little. I think fatigue had something to do with it.''