<
>

Colorado State 88, New Mexico 79

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- This has been a tough week for the New
Mexico Lobos.

Five days after helping Bob Knight make coaching history, the
Lobos fell to Colorado State, a program that has endured decades of
losses and frustration in The Pit.

Seven-footer Jason Smith had a double-double with 28 points and
11 rebounds and the Rams put on a torrid first half shooting
display in an 88-79 win Saturday afternoon.

CSU (11-3, 1-1 MWC) beat New Mexico (11-6, 0-2) in The Pit for
only the fourth time in 39 games. The Rams did it with Smith's
dominating play and soft touch jumpers inside and 11 3-pointers,
seven of them in the first half.

"There hasn't been a Ram that's been happy here in a lot of
years," said CSU coach Dale Layer, who got his first win in
Albuquerque. The win was the first for CSU in The Pit since 1993.

New Mexico has lost three straight, including the 70-68 loss to
Texas Tech on Monday that gave Knight his 880th career win.

New Mexico played without leading scorer J.R. Giddens. Giddens,
who practiced on Friday, was in street clothes and wearing a boot
on his injured left ankle, which he hurt in the Lobos' win over
Wichita State two weeks ago.

Tony Danridge led New Mexico with 17 points. Reserve Kellen
Walter scored a career-high 13, 10 of them over a span of 65
seconds late in the game when the Lobos used a 17-3 run to trim an
81-60 CSU lead to 84-77 with 55 seconds left.

But even with Giddens in the lineup, the Lobos would have had a
tough time beating the Rams, who hit 19 of 26 shots in the first
half, including 7 of 11 3s. Smith scored 10 points in the first
half, when the Lobos limited his touches and forced the Rams to
prove they could hit from outside.

The Rams did just that.

"If you haven't noticed, Jason Smith is a very good player,"
New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay said. "We picked our poison and
they did a nice job of knocking down 3s."

CSU scored 13 straight points early in the first half to take a
19-8 lead. Guard Cory Lewis, who scored 10 straight points in the
midst of that run, got the Rams rolling with a 3-pointer. He added
a jumper in the lane and another 3-pointer and Smith hit a
10-footer and Tyler Smith connected on a 3.

With just under eight minutes gone in the first half, the Rams
had more turnovers -- four -- than missed shots, having hit 11 of
their first 14.

"When our guys got open looks and knocked down some 3s, it gave
us great confidence and we built on that," Layer said.

Smith, who matched his career scoring high -- he also had 28
against the Lobos in Albuquerque a year ago -- hit 11 of 15 shots,
many of them lay-ups over the shorter New Mexico front line.

New Mexico, burned by the Rams' deep corps of 3-pointer shooters
in the first half, used less zone defense in the second half and
that didn't work either as Smith shook free time and again for
high-percentage shots.

"It was hard for them to double down on him because we were
shooting so well from the perimeter. All four of our (guards)
knocked down shots," Layer said.

Lewis, who scored 15 points in the first half, finished with 17
and Tim Denson scored 15. Stephan Gilling added 12 on four
3-pointers.

It was a 3-pointer by Gilling with 7:07 left that cooled a brief
New Mexico rally and heated up McKay. The Lobos had cut the CSU
lead to 62-53 on a 3-pointer by Danridge when a well-covered
Gilling connected.

As the shot swished through, McKay slammed his fist into the
press table.

New Mexico, which trailed 46-30 at halftime, scored the first
seven points of the second half on a 3-pointer by Darren Prentice
and back-to-back field goals by Danridge. Smith halted the rally
with a 3-point play and New Mexico would get no closer than the
seven-point margin in the final minute.

Giddens, who leads the Lobos in scoring with a 17.7 average and
appeared to be at full speed in practice Friday, said he had
re-aggravated his ankle injury earlier in the week.

"I shouldn't have been running on it," he said.