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The Journal's Mark Smith blogs from the MWC tournament

Las Vegas, 3/11:

Can’t imagine Gary returning. UNM officials unsure of his injury.

Maybe the toughest kid I’ve ever seen — Dairese Gary is down and probably out.  It looked like he twisted his right knee. It hurt watching that.

An amazing first half: 47-42 BYU. The Lobos are playing one of their best games of the season, but Jimmer is showing why he should be the national player of the year. He has 33 points on 14-of-20 shooting in the first 20 minutes.

Great energy in Thomas & Mack Center and Jimmer Fredette is feeding off it. He has 10 of BYU’s first 12 points at the first media timeout.

Check that. … BYU fans outnumber UNM and so far are louder.

There is nowhere else in the league that should host the MWC tournament. Amazing atmosphere. At least 5,000 fans both ways

Las Vegas, 3/10:

Bring on the Cougars one more time!

On Friday night, the New Mexico men’s basketball team will try to make it three-for-three against BYU, this time taking on the nation’s eighth-ranked team in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament. The winner heads into Saturday’s championship game.

On Thursday, the Lobos (21-11) outscored Colorado State 11-2 down the stretch to break open a tight game on the way to a 67-61 victory in the quarterfinals. The game basically ended any NCAA Tournament hopes for the Rams (19-12).

Bairstow’s second HUGE shot against the Rams this year! This one might be the game-winner

Probable make-up call on AJ. After block at other end that looked like a goal tend

Creepy feeling time? Lobos have found many ways to lose close ones, but they are truly the better team on the floor today.

New Mexico’s young team sure isn’t using much youth. Freshman Williams only one getting any minutes. This is crunch time — not Cal Bakersfield

5:55 left — score 55-55l

Ogide 10-of-14 from floor … csu 23-of-44. Lobos 17-of-48

CSU band director a hoot. Combo of Jim Carrey and … well, Jerry Lewis. Even Lobo fans going nuts cheering him

Gary — heart of a warrior. Trying to keep his season alive

Correction on free throws, it was 3-of-8 in second half … now 5-of-10

Lobos 6-6 from foul line in first half, 1-of-6 second half

Ding dong! All of a sudden jc transfer Will Bell is making noise. He is normally Ogide’s backup, but with Franklin and Smith struggling, he’s making the most of his minutes.

CSU got 23 of its 29 points out of two players in first half: Ogide with 13 and Green with 10

Halftime, Lobos 36, Rams 29 — UNM guards turn it on in final minutes of half. They are just too quick and too strong. Gary and Williams each score in that stretch while McDonald hits 3,

BYU better start figuring out how to readjust without Davies. Or change the honor code by tomorrow.

 

MWC Tournament MVP, that is.

Answer who arena quiz — who was the only MWC MVP to be drafted in NBA’s first round?

Danny Granger, right?

Again, CSU starting guard Adam Nigon injured a toe in practice yesterday and is out for the game. Very even game as expected. CSU’s Andy Ogide having his way inside with 13 points and four rebounds … Hardeman playing well in the paint for UNM with six points and five boards

Another beat writer just made a good point: Why does Alford keep talking about how they’ve had to play without Hobson all year, when h couldn’t have played anyway with his two hip surgeries? Fair question.

Third game between the two, third different duds for both. At UNM, Lobos in white, CSU in green. At CSU, Lobos in silver, CSU in orange. Here, Lobos in red, CSU in white

Both teams look tight — typical of a tournament opener — but Gary’s behind-the-back dish for Gordon slam could get things rolling

Looks like it will be a physical game and the loss of starting senior guard Adam Nigon could hurt Rams

It’s the Pit West. Lobo fans are about 5,000 — CSU fans a few hundred.

 

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Blog time comes to the Abqjournal.com, and the plan is to have me send tidbits during the tournament.
For a quick taste, here a few quotes that didn’t make it into my preview of the UNM/Colorado State game.Both the Lobos and Rams are in similar situations, probably needing to win the MWC tournament to make the NCAA field.
CSU, which entered the week with a Ratings Percentage Index of 43, has a slight hope of getting in without winning it all, but the Lobos don’t appear to have a chance. UNM’s RPI was at 71 entering the week.
So, is each team’s goal to win all three games here in Vegas this week and make the NCAA Tournament?

UNM COACH STEVE ALFORD: “Media, fans, the NCAA Tournament, and rightly so, is always going to be talked about. But this is season number 3 (the tournament). We’re sitting here last year, and we knew in season number 3 last year, we were probably a lock to be in (the NCAA Tournament), ranked eighth in the country and only three losses in the year at that time. It’s a little different feeling when you’ve lost more this year than last year. Still, our mindset last year, was we won a (regular season) league championship. Now season number 3 represents us with a chance at another championship. That was our goal and mindset, and it’s no different this year as we move into season no. 3. Season number 3 and season 4 (post season) are a lot shorter than 1 and 2 (nonconference and conference), so the urgency and taking advantage of all the experience you had in season number 1 and season number 2 really come to the forefront. And we know that in controlling our own destiny and really getting to the season 4 that we want, it’s probably to our advantage to take this one game at a time and don’t leave any doubt.”

Huh? I think that’s a yes.
CSU coach Tim Miles, same question to you.

Miles: “We’re trying to be single-minded on a goal, and the goal is to win the Mountain West Conference tournament. I don’t think it does any good to say, ‘if we win two, then maybe this or that (we can get into the NCAA Tournament).’ Just win the tournament, that’s what were here for — finding a way to win the tournament.”

It’s pretty simple. Just ask UNM senior point guard Dairese Gary. Can you win it all this week, ‘Rese?

GARY: “I believe we can. I believe we’re in the right situation to go in and do some big things. It will be tough, hard. We’ve got to beat some very good teams.”

And how about the matchup with the Rams?

“We had similar games both times,” Gary says. “I feel we’ll be more ready this time, not just the scouting report and things the coaches do, but as a team in general. I think we came out slow last time, and now were just burning to get back on the court and get these three games in Vegas.”

IF A RADIO MAKES A SOUND:
Today’s CSU/UNM game can be seen on two television networks and can be heard on two Albuquerque radio stations.
Unless you believe the Lobo basketball press release, which lists only one.
“It’s bizarre,” says Joe O’Neill, president of The Team (101.7 FM), which will carry the game as part of the MWC tournament package — which wasn’t listed on the release.
“They list the two TV outlets for the game, yet they don’t list us? Why are they so concerned that people have a choice? All we are trying to do is promote the men’s and women’s programs. Remember, we are the official partner of the MWC for the MWC tournament and the last time I checked, UNM is in the MWC.”
UNM assistant athletic director for communications Frank Mercogliano says “in the release we are promoting our flagship station and the Lobo Sports Radio Network.”
Never let facts clog up some good propaganda.

TCU WIN HELPS LOBOS:
The Frogs victory against Wyoming pretty much secures UNM of not having the worst-rated strength of schedule in the league. Wyoming entered the week with a 94 SOS and the Lobos a 90. If the Cowboys would have won, they would have had a meeting with BYU (the No. 4 team in the RPI), which could have lifted their SOS past UNM.
The Lobos have only played one non-conference opponent — Colorado — that looks to have any type of shot at the NCAA Tournament, unless one wins its conference tournament.

Thursday’s line: New Mexico -2

The odds, as of Wednesday night, of winning the MWC tournament:
San Diego State 6-5
BYU 8-5
UNLV 9-5
New Mexico 6-1
Colorado State 10-1
Air Force 50-1
Utah 50-1
TCU 100-1
Wyoming 8,000,000,000,000,000-1

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