New Mexico-Colorado St. Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- New Mexico might be in prime position to claim its third Mountain West Conference regular-season title in four seasons, but the league's hottest team is not about to take anything for granted.
The No. 18 Lobos look for an eighth consecutive victory when they face their next conference challenge Tuesday night at Colorado State.
Forward Drew Gordon had 27 points and 20 rebounds as New Mexico (22-4, 8-2) rolled to a 65-45 win over then-No. 11 UNLV on Saturday.
The Lobos, who own a two-game lead in the MWC with four to play, have held opponents to an average of 49.4 points on 34.2 percent shooting - 25.7 from 3-point range - during a seven-game winning streak that followed consecutive losses to then-No. 16 San Diego State and the Rebels.
New Mexico has won those last seven contests by an average of 20.7 points. The Lobos also have won 62 straight games when allowing fewer than 60 points.
"I couldn't be more pleased with our basketball team," coach Steve Alford told New Mexico's official website. "Our guys have been amazing. We still have a lot to do and a lot to prove; this race is far from over with. I don't know if we are the best team in this league yet but there is no team in the last month that has guarded the way that we have guarded."
A confident, but cautious, New Mexico squad hopes to continue its recent dominance when it meets Colorado State (16-9, 5-5), which is 12-1 at home. Though the Lobos blew out Colorado State 85-52 at home Jan. 25, the Rams won 68-62 in the last meeting in Fort Collins on Feb. 12, 2011.
That is Colorado State's lone victory in the last 11 meetings with New Mexico, and it also snapped the Rams' six-game home skid in the series.
"A win over there would be nice," said Gordon, who became the fifth player in the last decade to record 20 points and 20 boards against a ranked team Saturday. "I am happy with any wins and putting our winning streak to eight would be great."
Gordon certainly has the game to help New Mexico accomplish that feat. The 6-foot-9 senior has averaged 17.0 points and 16.7 rebounds in the last three contests.
"Drew Gordon proved that he's one of the best big men in the country," UNLV coach Dave Rice said. "He was terrific."
Gordon had 13 points and 14 rebounds versus Colorado State last month, the third time in four career games he's posted a double-double against the Rams.
Colorado State avoided a third consecutive defeat by winning its 11th straight home game, 54-46 over Wyoming on Saturday. Forward Greg Smith had 14 points with eight rebounds as the Rams shot 51.4 percent while giving up their fewest points of the season.
Smith scored 14 in last season's home victory over New Mexico.
"Greg can really make plays," coach Tim Miles said.
The Rams snapped a five-game home losing streak against Top 25 opponents with a 77-60 victory over then-No. 13 San Diego State on Jan. 28.
Updated February 20, 2012