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New Mexico 70, Utah 54

1/24/2004

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Danny Granger at the point. Granger on
the block. Granger anywhere he wanted to go.

The Utah Utes got plenty of looks at Granger Saturday, but had
no one that could stop him.

The 6-foot-8 junior scored 28 points and made an impressive
debut at point guard in leading New Mexico to a 70-54 win.

Granger baffled the Utes with his quickness, smooth jumpshot and
his ability to handle the ball like a guard. He hit 10 of 16 shots
and added a team-high four assists as the Lobos (10-6, 1-2 MWC)
snapped Utah's nine-game winning streak.

Utah coach Rick Majerus was among the 15,600-plus who caught
Granger's big-time performance in The Pit.

"I think he's a phenomenal talent," Majerus said. "Probably
the best player I've seen in my career in playing New Mexico, which
is a long time."

Majerus said Granger, who transferred to New Mexico last year
from Bradley, is a combination of former Lobos Clayton Shields and
Kenny Thomas. Shields was a prolific outside scorer and Thomas a
force inside who now plays with the Philadelphia 76ers.

"He stuck it to us tonight," Majerus said.

Nick Jacobson with 20 points and Andrew Bogut with 13 points and
17 rebounds led Utah (15-4, 3-1 MWC).

New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay threw a changeup at the Utes'
defensive plans by frequently using Granger at the point to start
the Lobos' half-court offense.

"Danny is a hard matchup, so we knew how we wanted to attack,"
McKay said.

Granger looked right at home in his impromptu role at guard.

"That's the way our coaches recruit us post men," said
Granger. "We're all athletic and can do things other than just
stay in the block."

Granger hit a pair of 15-foot jumpshots and a 3-pointer in the
game's first five minutes, setting the tempo for the Lobos' most
impressive win of the season.

Granger, who had six rebounds and no turnovers in 35 minutes on
the court, was equally tough inside, scoring consistently over the
taller Utes. And when the Utes tried to double-team Granger, he
passed off to open teammates.

The Lobos played a nearly flawless first half. They hit seven
3s, shot 54 percent and had just one turnover en route to a 38-18
lead.

Granger sparked a 9-0 run early in the second half with a
left-handed bankshot and an off-balance layup that put the Lobos
ahead 49-22 with 14:51 left in the game. At that point, Granger had
outscored the Utes 23-22.

Lobo David Chiotti said Granger's ability to play at the point
got the Lobos' offense rolling and put the Utes, especially their
inside duo of 6-foot-10 Andrew Bogut and 6-9 Tim Frost, on their
heels.

"A big guy can't guard him because he can shoot, drive and
pass," Chiotti said. "Big men aren't ... used to guarding people
up top and having to slide and play like a point guard. He's great
at it and really helped our team today."

Jacobson, who scored 15 of his points in the second half, led
the Utes' only rally of the game, a 13-2 run that cut the Lobos'
lead to 53-41 with 6:31 left.

But a 3-pointer by Troy DeVries and three free throws by Granger
sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Jacobson pushed the lead back up
to 59-45.

New Mexico hit eight 3s in the game against the second best
defensive team in the country. The Utes came into the game giving
up an average of 54 points a game.

DeVries added 14 points and Chiotti scored 13.

The win came a week after New Mexico lost at home to Air Force
68-42. It was the Falcons' first win in Albuquerque in 42 years and
McKay and the Lobos caught plenty of heat from their fans after
that loss.

"Sometimes it's not just all about one game," McKay said.
"Our guys certainly sensed that and that was our message to them
this week."