Five years ago today, on February 23, 2013, the 16th-ranked UNM men’s basketball team, still under Steve Alford, headed to Colorado State’s Moby Arena for a first-place showdown with the #22 Rams.
At 21-5, Colorado State had been surging and, just a game before, had enjoyed a six-game winning streak to tie New Mexico for the lead in the conference (21-4) before stumbling in a loss to UNLV.
The Lobos had been expected to be great throughout the 2012-2013 campaign, featuring a formidable cast of returning starters which included skilled big man Alex Kirk, NBA first-round selection Tony Snell, and the awesome Australians Hugh Greenwood and Cameron Bairstow, and they met expectations with a 12-0 start to their year, and a first top-25 ranking in late November.
But Colorado State, quietly putting up a good year of their own, was suited to play spoiler, and the late season home-and-home was played in their house.
The game itself was significant enough to put the Lobos in command in the Mountain West Conference if they won this contest. But it would be a battle.
In the end, UNM pulled the game out with a 91-82 victory, and what made this game additionally special was the show Kendall Williams put on. By the time the game was over, Kendall had scored over half of UNM’s total points, racking up 20 of those in the first half.
Let’s revisit his line for the game: Kendall was 12 of 16 from the field, including 10 of 13 from the 3-point line, and 12 of 17 from the free throw line, for 46 of UNM’s 91 points. Kirk had 19, Snell 10, each Aussie 6, and Chad Bell 4 to round out UNM’s scoring.
His performance in this important game cemented Kendall’s status as the Mountain West Conference’s Player of the Year, and his place as an icon in the pantheon of Lobo greats.
Enjoy these recaps of that remarkable game.
It was a standout win for Lobo fans to savor, and a historic game to hang on the career of the scrappy talented guard from California.
Five years ago today, 46.