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Eustachy Respects Pit Crowd

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CSU coach says the barbs sent his way are all in fun

There were several cracks about his man-in-black attire.

The sell-out Pit crowd showered him with boos, jeers and taunts during one of his many sideline rants to game officials.

And yes, Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy heard the same frat-house jokes he hears in every arena he coaches at, mocking the recovering alcoholic’s past transgressions that got him fired from Iowa State in 2003.

After Wednesday night’s 66-61 loss to No. 15 New Mexico, Eustachy was asked about the Pit crowd his team had just put a bit of a scare into while nearly erasing a 22-point second half deficit.

“I like this kind of atmosphere,” Eustachy said, sucking down a can of Diet Coke while he spoke to reporters. “They fire shots at you, but I think it’s all in fun.”

The first-year Rams coach said he saw more in his team’s ability to handle such an atmosphere this year than in 2012 when CSU lost 85-52 to the Lobos in the Pit.

And while he hopes his team gets over the road hump soon, he knows he can never expect a letup from the Pit fans.

“People say they’re belligerent,” Eustachy said. “They’re not (bleepin) – they’re not frickin’ belligerent. They’re just great fans. They’re just into it, and they’ll do anything to try and distract the coach. It’s what it’s all about. I’ve always loved this place.”

MAKE MORE THAN THE OTHER GUY: Lobos fans know by now this year’s team isn’t exactly shooting the lights out.

UNM is the only team ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 that has made fewer field goals (413) than their opponents this season (416), and it isn’t even close.

None of the other 24 ranked teams has fewer than a 50 field-goal advantage over their opponents this season (Missouri is at plus-50 with 487 field goals to 437). The rest of the AP Top 25 is averaging 94.5 more made field goals this season than their opponents.

So how is UNM sitting at 17-2 overall (4-0 in Mountain West play) with a No. 15 national ranking?

The Lobos continue to dominate opponents at the free-throw line, having made 368 free throws (of 499 for a 73.7 percent clip) compared with opponents shooting 199-for-294 (67.7 percent).

In Wednesday’s win over Colorado State, the Lobos were 21-of-26 from the line.

“That tells me we’re aggressive, and we are taking advantage of a very important part of the game and that’s the free-throw line,” Alford said.

NO SECOND CHANCES: The UNM Lobos have surrendered double-digit offensive rebounds eight times this season and have allowed an opponent 15 or more offensive boards four times, including Wednesday when Colorado State had 15.

That’s an awful lot of extra possessions for Lobo opponents. But UNM won each time.

“If we don’t get the rebound, we’re going to fight and try to keep the ball out of the basket,” Alford said. “That’s not easy to do. If you really look at stats, most second shots normally result in fouls, wide-open 3s or layups. That’s just basketball.”

CSU scored 13 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds. When Cincinnati had 16 offensive boards Dec. 27, UNM surrendered just seven second-chance points.

In UNM’s eight games of surrendering double-digit offensive rebounds, opponents have averaged just 8.5 second-chance points. That’s not a lot of points for teams getting so many extra offensive possessions.

“Our guys have a knack of if you do get a second shot on us, we don’t give that up very often,” Alford said. “We just don’t allow finishes.”

UP NEXT: Saturday, No. 15 New Mexico at San Diego State, 2 p.m.; TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: 770 AM

LOBOS LINKS: Roster | Schedule/Results | Geoff Grammer’s blog

— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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