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January 29, 2011The youngsters grew up Saturday, and that's very good news for the New Mexico Lobos.
With three freshmen doing most of the scoring, UNM rallied in the last 10 minutes to beat Brigham Young 86-77 in front of a large, noisy crowd in the Pit.
Kendall Williams, Chad Adams and Tony Snell combined for 35 points in the second half as the Lobos surprised No. 9 BYU. Jimmer Fredette, the top scorer in the nation, finished with 32 points, but he took 26 shots to get them and very few were scored because he had an open shot.
The Cougars had the No. 1 RPI in the nation coming into the game. And it looked like BYU was in control with a 53-40 lead with 14:37 left on the clock. But the freshmen started hitting everything they put up, and quickly the Lobos caught up and passed BYU, which is leaving the Mountain West Conference after this season. UNM scored on 14 of 15 possessions.
Snell was 4-for-6 on 3-point shots and scored all 16 of his points in the second half. Williams hit two of the three 3-pointers he put up and also scored 16 points in the second half.
"Tony has just continued to improve," UNM coach Steve Alford said of Snell, who was chosen the star of the game. "He's been coming. We see it in practice. Different guys are ready at different times. Kendall was ready right away. It has just taken Tony a little longer.
"It's just a maturation process," Alford continued. "When you're down 13 points and you come back and win it and win convincingly, that's just a special team."
The mainstays for UNM were senior guard Dairese Gary and post man Drew Gordon. Gordon had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, but that has become expected of him. Gary was only 4-for-11 from the floor and scored 14 points, but he had 10 assists and was getting the ball to the hot shooters in the second half.
"I just worked the ball and made the right plays," said Gary, the only senior on the team. "Tony, he's a freak. He's long, but he can move like a guard."
Gary also had the honor of covering Fredette.
"He's a beast," Gary said of trying to stop the top scorer in the nation. "I was looking at him saying, 'Wow, did he just make that in my face?'"
New Mexico improves to 15-7 overall, but still has a losing record in the Mountain West at 3-4. The Lobos play at Air Force on Tuesday and then have a week off.
BYU, which beat 4th-ranked San Diego State on Wednesday, is 20-2, 6-1. The Cougars' other loss was to UCLA.
"Defensively, we had a hard time, especially in the last 10 minutes," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "They've got a really good team and they play well in this building. I think New Mexico's effort really increased. They hit some shots and got some confidence. We were on our heels defensively."