<
>

New Mexico 89, Wyoming 75

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- It was the type of win New Mexico
needed to make an early statement in the Mountain West Conference
race.

But the sight of Danny Granger having to be helped up The Pit
ramp after the Lobos' 89-75 win over Wyoming Saturday night threw a
huge cloud over the victory and, quite possibly, the rest of the
season.

"I'm not trying to fool you, we need Danny Granger to win the
league," a somber New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay said.

McKay said Granger, who is averaging 19.5 points and 9.4
rebounds a game this season, was hurt while trying to block a shot,
but McKay would not elaborate on the injury to his 6-foot-8 senior
star.

The Lobos (14-2, 1-0 MWC) survived this night without Granger --
considered the best player in the conference. But they will have a
tough time making a run for the league title if the injury to
Granger's left knee turns out to be serious and he's out for any
extended time.

McKay said the extent of the injury wasn't immediately known.
Granger went out with 6:27 left in the first half and New Mexico in
front 39-19. With Granger gone, Wyoming (7-6, 0-1 MWC) made a
couple of runs and got within 52-44 with 14:16 left.

But that's as close as the Cowboys would get.

"I think we got tired," said Wyoming coach Steve McClain. "We
played awfully hard to get it back within eight, but that's the
problem when you get that far down."

Granger returned to the bench in warmups midway through the
second half, just in time to see the Lobos score eight straight
points that put Wyoming away for good.

In the game's first 12 minutes, it was Wyoming that needed help
trying to stay with the streak-shooting Lobos, who hit 16 of their
first 21 shots.

"We came out with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm,"
McKay said. "This was a team effort. Others stepped up."

Troy DeVries' 15 points led six New Mexico players in double
figures. Alfred Neale, playing inside in place of Granger, finished
with 11 points, while true freshman Tony Danridge matched his
season-high with 10 points. Kris Collins added 13 points and David
Chiotti had 14. Granger scored 12 points and had 3 blocks in the 12
minutes he played.

New Mexico also got 4 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds from
freshman Blake Harden, a former All-State player at Albuquerque's
Hope Christian High School. Harden, who initially enrolled at
Pepperdine, became eligible last month.

New Mexico could do little wrong early on. Granger and DeVries,
who hit three 3-pointers in the first half, sparked an 11-0 run
that put the Lobos up 15-4 and forced the Cowboys to play catchup
the rest of the night.

Moments after Granger went out, the Lobos had a 47-23 lead, but
Wyoming closed the half with an 8-2 run. The Cowboys extended their
run through the first five minutes of the second half, outscoring
New Mexico 12-2 to cut the deficit to 51-43 on a 14-foot jumper by
Jay Straight and a short jumper inside by Alex Dunn.

Straight led the Cowboys with 20 points and Dunn had 19 points
and 12 rebounds.

Chiotti hit a free throw and after Dunn hit one of two free
throws, New Mexico scored eight straight points. Danridge hit a
pair of field goals, Neale banked in a shot and DeVries scored off
the board in traffic for a 60-44 lead with 10:45 left.

"They came down and hit a couple of big shots and got the crowd
back into the game," McClain said. "Not having Danny in there, we
kind of took advantage of that, but they finally realized somebody
had to step up."

Another 8-0 run late in the game rebuilt New Mexico's lead to
72-51 with 5:14 left.

"We showed we could still play without Danny," said Chiotti.
"Danny makes us better, but we're still a good team."