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BYU basketball: Lobos deal defeat to No. 9 Cougars

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — No. 9 BYU started slowly against New Mexico, then finished even slower.

The Cougars missed their first seven shots of the game, then squandered a 13-point second half lead, as the Lobos staged a furious rally to earn an 86-77 upset Saturday afternoon before a raucous sellout crowd at The Pit.

It was BYU's first Mountain West Conference loss, and the Cougars saw the end of their 10-game winning streak.

BYU guard Jimmer Fredette scored a game-high 32 points, on 12-of-26 shooting, but he couldn't get enough shots to fall. UNM, on the other hand, was red hot over the final six minutes of the game, outscoring the Cougars, 26-10. Over the final 14 minutes of the contest, the Lobos scored 46 points.

"They did a good job. Their game plan was to go out and make it as tough as they could for me," Fredette said. "They did a good job at that. I made some tough shots, I made some plays, but in the end, they just made a lot more plays than we did. They started making shots and we didn't do that. That's how they got the win."

Despite a double-digit deficit, New Mexico stayed aggressive and mounted its comeback. The Lobos hit 9 of their last 11 field goals and scored on 15-of-16 possessions, including 5-of-6 from 3-point territory.

"We were a little excited in the first half, which is understandable, because we have a lot of young players," said UNM coach Steve Alford. "We went down by 13 to a team with a No. 1 RPI in the country, so to come back from that and win by nine is a special turnaround."

"Coach just said you have to be poised," said Lobo guard Dairese Gary. "Playing a team like BYU, they're a scoring team so they're going to make runs. We just had to be poised and deal with adversity and stay together as a team. That's what we did and we came out with the win."

Meanwhile, BYU was coming off a huge victory over No. 4 San Diego State on Wednesday night at the Marriott Center. But the Cougars said they did not experience a letdown Saturday.

"I don't think so just because it's such an emotional building, it's hard to have a letdown because how amped up the crowd gets and everything," said Fredette. "I think we had good emotion and played hard. We just didn't make enough plays to win and they did."

"We started the game exactly the way we wanted to start it. We got some really good looks at the basket," Cougars' coach Dave Rose said. "We just didn't make them. We overcame that and got the lead. We had a good lead in the second half. They got on a little bit of a run. We had some tough breaks on the other end where we'd miss a shot, or get a tough call, and the lead gets away from you and you're fighting uphill again."

UNM enjoyed balanced scoring, with five players recording double-figures, led by freshman Tony Snell, who came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers, all in the second half.

"We were aware of him," BYU forward Charles Abouo said of Snell. "We knew he was a good player and a good shooter. He made some big shots."

Kendall Williams also added 16 for the Lobos, while Drew Gordon dropped in 15 — along with 12 rebounds. Gary had 14 points and Phillip McDonald chipped in 11.

It marked the first time UNM, which swept the season series last season, has beaten BYU three straight times in 11 years.

After a nip-and-tuck first half, the Cougars started to pull away, seizing a 53-40 advantage with a little more than 14 minutes remaining on a Fredette 3-pointer. UNM answered with a 14-2 run that gave the Lobos their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.

Fredette then drilled three more 3-pointers in a two-minute stretch that propelled the Cougars to a 67-62 lead.

From there, though, the Lobos were unstoppable, with Snell, Gary and Williams doing most of the damage.

"I felt offensively, except for the first few minutes of the game when we couldn't make a basket, we played pretty well," Rose said. "Defensively, we had a hard time getting stops the last 10 minutes of the game. I thought the first 30 minutes of the game, we actually were in a pretty good spot defensively.

"But when they spread the floor and went small and put all those shooters around and started hitting (shots) and got the lead, it was kind of hard to keep that thing under control."

BYU returns to action Wednesday at Wyoming.