UNM makes history in 81-42 win over Air Force

The UNM men's basketball team finished with four players in double figures and got scoring from all 11 players in defeating host Air Force 81-42 Tuesday night in Colorado Springs. Sophomore Kendall Williams and senior Drew Gordon each scored a game-high 13 points to lead the Lobos, whose 39-point victory was the biggest win by an opponent in the 42-year history of the Falcons' Clune Arena.

New Mexico (18-4, 4-2 MWC) led by as much as 44 points and got 23 points off turnovers in the victory, forcing 8 steals and 16 turnovers overall. The real measure of the Lobos' defense was Air Force's poor shooting – just 5-of-28 (17.9%) from the three-point line and 15-of-51 (29.4%) from the field overall.

The New Mexico bench outscored the Falcons' reserves, 42-22 and Phillip McDonald and Demetrius Walker both came off the bench to add 11 points each.

"I thought our focus and concentration was good, but it has been. I've been saying all along, we had two bad halves in one week (against UNLV and SDSU), and that cost us. But we're 18-4, we're doing a lot of good things and I'm very, very proud of this team."

After a tight start, UNM went on a 18-5 run to take a 24-9 lead with 7:00 left in the first half behind solid inside-outside play by the Lobos and a terrific defensive effort that took Air Force (11-9, 1-5) completely out of its Princeton-style offense.

"We wanted them to try to make shots from the perimeter against our defense against our athletic kids," said head coach Steve Alford on 770 KKOB-AM's post game show. "We're big, we're long, we're athletic and I wanted to see them make shot over our guys and not get lay-ups. I don't know of a back-cut lay up they got all night and that's really impressive when you're playing the Princeton offense."

UNM powered its way to a 40-19 halftime lead on 16-of-28 (57.1%) shooting and 6-of-12 (50%) shooting form the three point line.

The Lobos did not slow down at all in the second frame, opening on a 17-7 run to take a 57-26 lead seven minutes into the second half and UNM cruised the rest of the way.

Jamal Fenton and Cameron Bairstow came off the bench to each add seven points, while Tony Snell scored six points. Fenton added five assists as New Mexico managed 21 assists on the game.

"Our guards are doing a great job of taking care of the ball, getting us in an offense and getting the ball where it needs to go – getting the kind of shot we need to get," said Alford. "That's pivotal with guard play."

With UNM in a three-way tie for third, Tuesday's game was an important one, said Alford.

"This is a big win for us, a game that we had to have," he said. "This (Air Force) team will beat some teams in this building. We're very fortunate we got out of here with a win."

The Lobos are now all-alone in third place, pending other MWC games on Wednesday, headed into their game Saturday at Boise State. Tip-off for the UNM-BSU game is 2 p.m. The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.

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