The last time Tech visited the historic Pit Arena was in March of 2005, during the Red Raiders' memorable Sweet 16 run in the NCAA Tournament. The opponent was the hot three-point-shooting West Virginia, who won the contest with a final score of 65-60. Hopefully, this revisit to the Arena—again with a quality opponent—will result in a favorable outcome for the team and the fans of Red Raider Nation.
Last season, the Red Raiders defeated the Lobos 70-68 at home in front of a sold-out crowd on New Year's Day. Tech led by as many as 20 points, but New Mexico put up quite a fight and missed a three-pointer at the buzzer, costing them the game. The win gave Coach Knight his 880th victory as a head coach, passing Dean Smith to become the all-time wins leader in NCAA Division 1 history.
This will be the 81st meeting between the two teams, with Texas Tech leading the series 41-39. However, of all the games played at New Mexico, the Lobos lead 25-18. Tech is currently on a three-game winning streak in the series. Saturday's game will be broadcast on Versus at 3:00pm Central Standard Time.
University of New Mexico Lobos
2006-2007 Record – Overall (15-17), Conference – Mountain West (4-12)
2006-2007 Postseason – None
Coach – Steve Alford (1st Season)
Coach Knight and Coach Alford are no strangers to each other. Alford played under the General at Indiana and was a key part of the 1987 national championship team. He has since had a four-year career in the NBA (Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors), and held head coaching jobs with Manchester College (Division III), Southwest Missouri State University, University of Iowa, and is now the head coach at the University of New Mexico. Alford's hiring is the direct result of the University's current efforts to revive its basketball program and restore its team to the national contender it once was.
2007-2008 Season The Lobos have already recorded over half the number of wins they had all of last season. They beat Colorado on the road in their first game, and then won six games in a row, all of which at home. New Mexico then dropped two road games at Mississippi (85-77) and New Mexico State (71-62). Their last game was against University of San Diego, in which they defeated the Toreros 57-47 at the Pit Arena.
Guards Chad Toppert and J.R. Giddens are the Lobos' leading scorers at 12.0 and 11.5 points per game, respectively. You might remember Giddens from his days at the University of Kansas. He transferred to New Mexico in 2005 and started play there during the 2006-2007 season.
Keys to the Game
1. Free Throws! I hate to sound redundant, but there have been few games where Tech shot well from the line. Shooting a high percentage consistently and also just getting to the line will be crucial—Attack the basket.
2. Defense - Continue to play strong defense. Tech has allowed opponents only 56.2 points per game. New Mexico has averaged 74 points per game this season. Also, defend the three-point shot because the Lobos are shooting 42% from behind the arc. Limit guards Jamaal Smith and Chad Toppert on their threes—they have proved they are successful from three-point land (both averaging near 50%).
3. Rebounds - As always, this aspect of the game is very important. Stay competitive on the boards and increase the likelihood of second-chance points.
4. Lead . Keep the lead and build on it. The Red Raiders have led several games by double digits this year and then allowed the opponent to get right back in the game in the blink of an eye.
5. Zeno, Voskuil, Roberson, and Burgess. These guys have been the backbone of this team and need to continue to mesh and play well together.