Walker leads Lobos past AFA in MWC Tourney

The 2nd-seeded UNM men's team did what was expected of them Thursday night, defeating 7th-seed Air Force 79-64 in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. The Lobos face UNLV Friday night in the semifinals at 9:30 MST at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Against the Falcons, New Mexico (25-6) rode the hot shooting of junior transfer Demetrius Walker, who came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 from behind the three-point arc.

 "I was very, very pleased.  I thought we had some lapses defensively.  They did a very good job of running their offense with a lot of good pace.  We got back and had a little bit more than we did in the first two games.  We took the three-point shot away from them.  They only made five on the night.  They shot a high percentage because of that.

"Our bench been doing it all year," said sophomore Kendall Williams, who added 10 points. "So tonight was Walk's night.  He's been real efficient all year, him and Jamal. Cameron was real effective tonight.  We've been doing it all year off the bench and with our balance. It was his night to hit a lot of shots. Usually he comes in and hits a lot of clutch rebounds.

Walker said he felt he had             "a real good week of preparation and practice offensively and defensively" coming into the game.

"First and foremost, I just wanted to come in and provide a spark, whether that's offensively or defensively," said Walker. "Tonight was offensively.  I know coach is probably upset with me about a few back-cuts, but we'll discuss that later tonight."

Senior Drew Gordon added 15 points and seven rebounds while Tony Snell came off his recent schnide with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

"I was really pleased with our offense," said head coach Steve Alford. "I thought we ran with really good pace. We got the stops that we needed. When you're in this part of the season, it's about win and advance.  I thought our guys did a job every time Air Force made a run at us, we seemed to get a basket, make the stop to stop the run."

UNM shot an incredible 37 free throws, making 31. 27 came in the first half, with the Lobos hitting 23.

" I know we're a talented team when it comes to free-throw shooting when we actually concentrate," said Gordon. "I think we struggled a little bit throughout the year. But when it comes down to it, I'm confident in our team, making the free shots that we get from the free-throw line."

Michael Lyons and Todd Fletcher paced Air Force (13-16) with 17 points and 12 points respectively.

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