|Not the Time to Letup for Lobos, but Time for Someone to Step Up|
|Written by Administrator|
|Thursday, 19 January 2012 20:33|
By Tim Kotalik
The Lobos suffered a big loss on Wednesday night in front of a sold out crowd of 15,411 at the Pit, but they have no time to sulk in defeat as they have a quick turnaround against another elite Mountain West team on Saturday.
New Mexico had the top 25 in their sights and a victory at home against SDSU would have certainly helped their cause, but after a slow start the Aztecs fought back and owned the second half coming away with the win, 75-70.
UNM will now travel to Las Vegas for a tough road contest with the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
“We probably have the toughest environment that we have to go into (Thomas and Mack arena in Vegas) and they (UNLV) are outstanding,” Alford said. “They are a really good and deep basketball team so we have our hands full.”
UNLV enters the game among the nations best sporting a 17-3, 1-1 record and are the 14th ranked team in the land (AP), they are coming off a 33-point walloping over TCU.
The Rebels have a very impressive resume and they dethroned the previously ranked #1 North Carolina Tar Heels and are arguably the Lobos' toughest opponent of the year.
UNM needs someone to step up in a big way and coming off an impressive outing on Wednesday could it be senior guard Phillip McDonald?
McDonald, a three-year starter, has had his ups and downs this season, prompting coach Alford to bring him off the bench – a role he seems to be getting more and more comfortable with. His experience going forward will be vital.
“It will be a big test for our seniors to make sure that they are ready to go and get the younger guys ready,” Alford said about the importance of his upperclassmen against UNLV.
McDonald had one of his best games of the season against San Diego State, scoring a team-high 20 points in his 23 minutes of work. With his performance he figures to see more playing time going forward. He does, however, understand that his role can vary in this offense and he is prepared to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
“I just got to keep doing what I do,” McDonald said. “I’m just trying to do anything to win a ball game, whatever it takes to win.”
A lot of his production on Wednesday was a product of non-stop movement and effort across the baseline, which created space and left him in catch-and-shoot situations. He is coming on at the right time, too. In the past seven games McDonald is averaging 10.4 points per game and is shooting 58% (18-31) from behind the arch. If this kind of play continues and McDonald can consistently score in double figures it will add another dimension to the Lobo offense and create the floor space needed to really get Drew Gordon going in the low-post.
The sharp-shooting guard is no stranger to scoring points, in his career he has scored 1,060 points, and is now 26th on the all-time scoring list for UNM.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2012 21:17|