In the first game of 3 games in 4 days, Lobos took the court verses North Carolina A&T. Early on Lobo fans noticed there was something different about Saturday afternoon's lineup. Lobo superstar JR Giddens wasn't on the floor as Coach Ritchie McKay benched him for the first half.
Coach Mckay was serving notice to all of his players as well as Lobo fans that at UNM nobody is above being sat down. Mckay's Lobos had lost two games in a row last week and Mckay had suffered much criticism this week, another loss and lynch mobs would have formed at the corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University. Still, Mckay is a man of principle and made the move he felt was best for his basketball team.
On to the game, without Giddens in the lineup, the Lobos were stagnate on the offensive side of the ball for most of the first half. It wasn't all bad as two Lobo players stepped up in the first half to keep the Lobos in the game. Junior sharpshooter Chad Toppert stepped in and hit 3 hoops from behind the arc as well as hustling down 4 rebounds while sophomore forward Daniel Faris came in to the game and scored 7 points and 6 rebounds. Still, without Giddens in the in the opening half and Lobo fans chanting "JR Giddens" the Lobos found them selves down by a 37 to 33 margin.
At the time nobody knew why JR Giddens was being held out and most fans were a little nervous if Giddens would be back for the 2nd half or if he had done something that would keep him out the rest of the afternoon. The answer came quickly as Giddens was on the floor to start the second half. Giddens came in and gave the Lobos an immediate spark. Giddens finished the day with 8 points, 6 boards, and probably his most important of stats 6 assists as JR worked hard to get his teammates involved in tonight's team win. Tonight the Lobos were lead by Chad Toppert with 20 and 5, Tony D With 17 points and Jamaal Smith with 15. Chad went 6 for 10 from behind the arc as he scored the most threes by any Lobo in 2 years. The Lobos Came Away with an 86 to 78 win.
The Red Menace Player of The Game
Chad Toppert from Academy High school came in a went 6 for 10 from three and pulled down 5 rebounds and brought a great defense presence to the court tonight.
Sunday afternoon's game vs. Longwood
In the second game in four days the Lobos took the court verses Longwood The Lobos played very poor in the first half, as the Lobos seemed to have lost their identity on the offensive side of the ball. While on the defensive side they did not rotate well as Longwood was able to move the ball very effectively. The Lobos were down anywhere from 3 to 7 points in the half, and the mercifully the most lethargic half in many of years ended with the Lobos down by 1 point at the half and looking like they really didn't want to be playing on Sunday evening.
With a half empty Pit and a team playing like their tanks were empty there was some nervousness in the stands. Could the Lobos pull this out? Will they give a better effort? What is the score of tonight's football game?
The 2nd half took off and those lethargic Lobos of the 1st half were replaced by those guys we watched early the season. You know, those guys that went 5-0. This team is good when they are in the open court on the fast break; they need to do more of this, so I think a full or ¾ trap would help pressure the ball a lead to the Lobos strength, which is speed.
In the last 10 min of the game the Lobos got back to this and extended their lead to 20 plus and more importantly, the team got back to having fun on the court again.
It was a great effort by the Lobos as they were lead by Aaron Johnson's 14 points and 11 rebounds and JR's career high 25 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Final score 69 to 50
Was tonight's good 2nd half what the Lobos needed to snap out of the lethargic play they have displayed lately? We will see Tuesday at 7 verses Charlton Southern. One more thing will you be there? Sunday night's attendance was a dismal 10, 586 officially in The Pit tonight the lowest in about 30 or so years? I challenge you Lobo Fans to support a team that has their ups and downs to come out and help lead them to victory, we are 7 and 2 right?
Red Menace Player of the game
Aaron Johnson with 14 points and 11 rebounds, he was all over the court during the game, driving to the basket, posting up and boxing out well and even went 2 of 2 from the line after a tough night the night before. He only had 10 points and 14 rebounds in the last 3 games.
Verbal Commitment from Reggie Huffman
Over the weekend UNM was visited by forward Reggie Huffman of Western Oklahoma St. Here is an interview that I had with Reggie who the next day commited to play for UNM Click here for interview
All photos courtesy of NewMexicoSportsNews.com