Williams scores 46 to lead New Mexico past CSU
- Article by: ARNIE MELENDREZ STAPLETON
- Associated Press
- February 23, 2013 - 7:09 PM
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - With 9 minutes left, New Mexico guard Kendall Williams trudged to the bench with a career-high 28 points — and four fouls.
While he caught his breath, No. 22 Colorado State built a six-point lead over the 16th-ranked Lobos.
Moby Arena was rocking and the Rams were rolling, about to extend the nation's third-longest home winning streak to 28 games.
Williams had other things in mind — and 18 points left to score.
"Luckily, some shots went in," said the junior guard from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., who finished with a career-best 46 points — almost double his previous career high of 24 — in leading New Mexico to a 91-82 win Saturday.
Williams set a Mountain West Conference record with 10 3-pointers and his 46 points were the most in the 47-year-old arena, topping the 44 scored by Portland State's Freeman Williams on Nov. 29, 1975.
"He should be hands-down player of the week, I would think," Lobos coach Steve Alford deadpanned.
Williams helped the Lobos overcome that 70-64 deficit at the 6-minute mark by hitting a trio of 3-pointers, a dunk and seven free throws down the stretch as New Mexico outscored the Rams 27-12.
"He got on a roll today," Alford said. "And it was a 40-minute roll."
Actually, it was a 33-minute roll. He spent seven minutes on the bench in foul trouble.
"That's what's really impressive," Alford said. "He sat about a four-minute stretch there in the second half and still scores and does what he does. It's pretty amazing. But he did a great job in that last six minutes not picking up that fifth" foul.
Center Alex Kirk added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Lobos (23-4, 10-2), who increased their lead in the conference race to two games over the Rams (21-5, 8-4).
Colton Iverson had 26 points and 15 boards for the Rams, who looked like they were going to move into a first-place tie atop the standings after taking a 70-64 lead at the 6-minute mark.
Williams' treys highlighted a 14-2 run that gave New Mexico a 78-72 lead before the Rams sent the Lobos to the line over the final two minutes.
"Well, that was a special night to watch," Alford said. "I told him that. I said I never had a 10-3 game, I never got to 46. Forty-two was the most I ever scored and eight 3s was the most I ever made in a game."
"There's not too many one-ups you can get on Coach Alford, especially in scoring," Williams said. "I might be on top of the world for the rest of the weekend."
Williams' previous career best was 24 points against Indiana State and New Mexico State earlier this season.
"The players kept feeding me the ball," said Williams, who had 15 family members, including his grandmother, in the stands. "It was really just a team effort, some of the shots I hit were tough. But if the teammates didn't put me in position and the coaches didn't put me in position, I wouldn't have had quite the night I had."
The Rams blamed themselves for Williams' big game.
"We had no answer for him," Rams coach Larry Eustachy said. "... He was completely unstoppable. I want to see film on how many of those shots were contested."
His bet is that not many were.
The Rams, who gave up 45 points to Air Force's Michael Lyons a week earlier, left Williams open early on while locking down Tony Snell, who scored 10 points Saturday after getting 23 in their first meeting last month.
"He hadn't been shooting well this year," Dorian Green said. "We gave him some uncontested looks, let him get hot. Guys are too good in our league to do that."
"We gave him open looks early," Wes Eikmeier added. "He got hot and then he was feeling it the rest of the night."
Green (20) and Eikmeier (22) gave the Rams three 20-point scorers in their losing effort. Eikmeier scored 11 straight to put the Rams ahead 55-50.
The Lobos quieted the crowd with a 12-6 run to regain the lead at 62-61, but Williams, less than a minute after returning to the lineup, was whistled for his fourth foul and took a seat at the nine-minute mark.
"I was real mad," Williams said. "My emotions were high, but (assistant coach Craig) Neal came over while Coach Alford was doing his thing and calmed me down and says, `You're going to have to bring it home, kid. Don't foul and get the shots that you need.' And that's exactly what I did."
The Rams were coming off a two-point loss at UNLV on Wednesday night that snapped their six-game winning streak, which began after a 66-61 loss to the Lobos in Albuquerque last month.
They hadn't lost at home since Nov. 11, 2012, to Southern Miss., which was coached at the time by Eustachy, who took the Rams job last offseason.
Williams' 10th 3-pointer — in 13 tries — broke the conference mark of nine set by several players, most recently UNLV's Chace Stanback against Central Arkansas on Dec. 28, 2011. It was a difficult shot from the right corner.
"Why not? Just throw it up there, had hit a few already," Williams said. "With the hoop the size it was tonight and the rhythm I was feeling, it just felt like I had to throw that one up."
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