Granger, the Lobos' multitalented forward, scored 16 of his 20
points over the final 12 minutes Saturday night and New Mexico got
its sixth straight win by beating Tennessee, 77-58.
New Mexico (10-1) matched its best start in four years and tuned
up with a meeting next week against the No. 6 Deacon Demons with a
dominating effort against the Volunteers (4-4).
"That was a very nice step for our guys," said New Mexico
coach Ritchie McKay. "This will hopefully build some confidence
It was Granger who delivered the knockout punch after Tennessee
had sliced a 12-point New Mexico lead at halftime to four.
Double-teamed and held to three points in the first half,
Granger sparked an 18-6 run by the Lobos in the second half after
Tennessee had cut a 12-point halftime deficit to 38-34 with 12:46
"He's such a dominant player," said McKay of Granger's second
half scoring outburst. "He was just a little hesitant (in the
first half) because he wants to get our program some national
exposure. He has a chance to carry our team a long way."
The Volunteers' comeback was led by freshman guard Chris Lofton,
who finished with 19 points, including going 5-for-5 on 3-pointers.
A layup by JaJuan Smith got Tennessee within four and the
Volunteers had a chance to make it a one point game, but Scooter
McFagdon's 3-pointer rimmed out.
It was all Granger and New Mexico after that. He scored seven
quick points, connecting on a 16-foot jumper; a 3-pointer after
stealing the ball from Volunteer Andre Patterson and a shot in the
lane that pushed New Mexico's lead up to 50-36 with 9:57 left.
"In the second half, I just got into a rhythm," Granger said.
"They cut it to four and we didn't lose our composure."
New Mexico hit 13 of its last 18 shots in the second half and
shot 64 percent in the final 20 minutes. The Lobos also had a
season-low 8 turnovers -- just 1 in the first half -- and shut down
the Volunteers' inside game.
McFagdon was the only effective scorer for the Volunteers
inside. He finished with 16 points, 14 of them in the second half
and most of those after the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Tennessee center Brandon Crump, who was averaging 12 points a
game and had scored in double figures in the Vols' last four games,
scored just two points.
"Our defense carried us through the entire game," McKay said.
"Defensively, they (Volunteers) didn't get any good looks."
Both teams had plenty of open shots in the first half, but both
struggled. They combined to hit just 6 of 28 3-pointers in the
Tennessee too shot much better in the second half, hitting 13 of
22 shots. But the Vols couldn't shut down Granger and the Lobos'