ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico men’s basketball schedule was finally released on Wednesday. There wasn’t much suspense left and no big surprises.
With nearly all of the Lobos’ opponents having released their schedules, there were only a handful of contests left for UNM to announce. None will send fans scurrying to the ticket office.
Among the new games are home exhibitions against small colleges Davenport and Western New Mexico, the season-opener against Division II New Orleans and home games against Houston Baptist and North Dakota.
2011-12 MEN’S SCHEDULE
Nov. 1 (Ex.) Davenport 7 p.m.
Nov. 5 (Ex.) Western N.M. 7 p.m.
Nov. 11 New Orleans 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 New Mexico State 8 p.m.
Nov. 18 at Arizona St. TBA
(The 76 Classic hosted by the Big West Conf.:)
Nov. 24 Santa Clara 7 p.m.
Nov. 25 Okla./Wash. St. TBA
Nov. 27 Championship TBA
Nov. 30 Idaho State 7 p.m.
Dec. 3 Missouri State 8 p.m.
Dec. 10 at USC TBA
Dec. 17 Oklahoma St. TBA
Dec. 20 Montana St. 7 p.m.
Dec. 22 UMKC 7 p.m.
Dec. 28 at New Mexico St. TBA
Dec. 31 St. Louis 4 p.m.
Jan. 3 Houston Baptist 7 p.m.
Jan. 7 North Dakota TBA
Jan. 14 *at Wyoming 1:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 *San Diego St. TBA
Jan. 21 *at UNLV TBA
Jan. 25 *Colorado St. TBA
Jan. 28 *TCU 4 p.m.
Jan. 31 *at Air Force 8 p.m.
Feb. 4 *at Boise St. TBA
Feb. 11 *Wyoming 1:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 *at San Diego St. TBA
Feb. 18 * UNLV 11 a.m.
Feb. 21 * at Colorado St. 8 p.m.
Feb. 25 * at TCU 5 p.m.
Feb. 29 * Air Force 6 p.m.
March 3. * Boise St. 2 p.m.
March 8-10 Mountain West Tournament
* Denotes conference game
Home games are bold
“A lot of emphasis was put on the strength of our non-conference schedule,” UNM coach Steve Alford said. “I am very pleased that this schedule will prepare us for league play as well as give us plenty of opportunities to set us up for postseason play.”
Those opportunities, however, appear like they will have to come outside of the Pit. The Lobos play at Arizona State, USC and New Mexico State. They are also part of the eight-team 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., where they open with Santa Clara. UNM plays three games in the Thanksgiving weekend event.
UNM also plays against Oklahoma State in a four-team, one-game, one-day event in Oklahoma City.
Last season, the Lobos’ non-conference schedule was rated 255th strongest in the nation and didn’t include one team that eventually made the NCAA Tournament. Only one team on this year’s non-Mountain West Conference slate, USC, made last year’s NCAA field. The 19-14 Trojans lost one of the newly-created first-round games (formerly the play-in game).
Saint Louis, which plays the Lobos in the Pit on Dec. 31, is coached by former Utah coach Rick Majerus. But Saint Louis was just 12-19 last season.
Nearly every non-MWC team on this year’s home schedule had losing Division I records last season. The exceptions are North Dakota (19-15 and 8-5 in the Great West Conference), Missouri-Kansas City (16-14, 9-9 in the Summit League) and Missouri State (26-9 and won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title at 15-3). The latter game was set up by the leagues as part of the MVC-Mountain West Conference Challenge.
Houston Baptist was 5-26 and 2-10 in the Great West while NMSU was 16-17 and 9-7 in the WAC. Montana State and Idaho State combined for overall records of 22-38 and 11-21 in the Big Sky Conference.
HENRY UPDATE: UNM starts the fall semester on Monday, but there is still no word on whether signee Jarion Henry will be eligible. Alford said he is still waiting to hear from Kimball High in Dallas, where Henry took summer classes through last week.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal