ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Richard Pitino and his UNM Lobo men’s basketball team want to keep their perfect season intact. The Lobos are in Las Vegas, Nevada for a date against the San Francisco Dons Monday night.
“No pressure because at the beginning of this season I could bet you everybody didn’t know that we were going to be undefeated,” said UNM forward Morris Udeze. “So, I feel like we can just keep on going. The best thing about us is that we just look at one game at a time and we’re very mature. We have older guys who know how to win and play the right way. So, that’s big, just being mature.”
The two teams are a part of the field in the Jack Jones Hoopfest. The Lobos were a late addition to Hoopfest. They added the game against San Francisco after the UNM rivalry series was New Mexico State was canceled this season. A shooting on the UNM campus involving an NMSU player and UNM student forced the cancellation of the series. The Lobos have been receiving points in college basketball polls.
A win Monday and Sunday, when Pitino faces his famous dad Rick and Iona, could put the Lobos in the poll. The Lobos are more concerned about NET rankings and Ken Pom, something that can actually get them into the NCAA Tournament.
“Rankings are great for your fans,” said UNM Head Coach Richard Pitino. “There’s an engagement level when you have a number in front of your team that certainly is important to your fanbase and in recruiting, it helps to get some exposure. But, at the end of the day, if the goal is to win championships and the goal is to go to an NCAA tournament, an ESPN or AP ranking has nothing to do with it.” The Lobos and Dons have a 9:30 p.m. Mountain Time start Monday night.
In other sports news, UNM women’s basketball forward Shaiquel McGruder is the Mountain West Player of the Week. McGruder averaged over 19 points and eight rebounds in a pair of Lobo victories last week.
Six local high school football players got a chance to play at AT&T Stadium in Dallas Monday. The group of six players in the Blue-Grey All-American Game. La Cueva sent a trio of players to the game. Valencia High School had two and the Lovington Wildcats one. Gabriel Buie of La Cueva had a touchdown while helping the West beat the East 37-17.
Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach remains in critical condition at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Leach suffered a massive heart attack Sunday.