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State

  • Isotopes Are Back for 2014
    ALBUQUERQUE – A big portion of the nucleus of the Albuquerque Isotopes minor league baseball team from 2013 will be hanging around for the 2014 opener. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen. Albuquerque hosted its annual media day Tuesday at Isotopes Park, one of the first chances the team has been collected all in one place at the same time. Several players were just getting back to Albuquerque after a stint on the 40-man roster in the majors, including its top returning position player, outfielder Nick ‘Chili’ Buss. Buss and the rest of the Isotopes will open the season Thursday night in Tacoma, Wash., taking on the Tacoma Rainiers. After a four-game set with Tacoma and another four-game set at Reno, the Isotopes will make their first home appearance April 11 when they face Tacoma again. “I’m just really excited to get going,” Buss said. “It was a long spring training this year. I think everyone’s really psyched to get out of spring training and ready to go. Everyone’s really excited to be here and can’t wait to open it up in Tacoma.”
  • Stanford bounces UNM out Friday
    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chasson Randle scored 23 points and No. 10 seed Stanford made an impression in its first NCAA appearance since 2008, leading almost start to finish in a 58-53 victory over seventh-seeded New Mexico on Friday. The Cardinal (22-12) built an early 16-point lead then held on after New Mexico rallied to tie it midway through the second half. They got four crucial free throws from reserve Robbie Lemons and Randle in the final half-minute after New Mexico had cut the deficit to two points. They will play the Eastern Kentucky-Kansas winner on Sunday in the third round. Cameron Bairstow had 24 points and eight rebounds but the Lobos (27-7) got off-days from their other top threats. Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk, who together average 30 points, combined for just six. New Mexico has been one and done the last two seasons, losing as the No. 3 seed to Harvard last year under coach Steve Alford and now as the No. 7 under Craig Neal. Stanford got away with an off-day from Dwight Powell, who missed all eight shots, fouled out and scored three points. Powell averages 14.2 points, second on the team. Anthony Brown added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinal and Stefan Nastic had 10 points and five rebounds.
  • Aggies force Aztecs into OT but fall short
    SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — New Mexico State earned a little slice of history by taking San Diego State to overtime. Little consolation on a night that was more frustrating than gratifying. The Aggies lost 73-69 in the record fourth OT game of the first full day of the NCAA tournament. Kevin Aronis tied the game at 60 with a 3-pointer to force the extra session. But the last 5 minutes of Thursday’s game played out a lot like the first 40. Despite all that heart and grit, the 13th-seeded Aggies (26-10) didn’t lead once. “It’s depressing is what it is,” coach Marvin Menzies said. “To be able to fight that hard the second half and not get over the hump in overtime. I thought we drew up some really good stuff and we just missed some right at the basket.” Xavier Thames scored the first basket of overtime and made three of four free throws at the end of the extra session to help the Aztecs (30-4) advance to Saturday’s third-round West Region game against North Dakota State. Earlier in the day, the Bison beat Oklahoma 80-75 — in overtime, of course. Thames had 23 points for the Aztecs, who let a 14-point lead slip away and needed an extra 5 minutes to get the job done. “All that matters is we got the win,” Thames said.
  • Ski Report 03-20-14
    Angel Fire 30-inch base. No new snow reported. 52 trails and 7 lifts open. Red River 24-inch base. No new snow reported. 54 trails and 7 lifts open. Santa Fe 49-inch base. No new snow reported. 76 trails and 7 lifts open. Sipapu 34-inch base. No new snow reported. 27 trails and 2 lifts open. Ski Apache 21-inch base. No new snow reported. 47 trails and 8 lifts open. Taos 55-inch base. No new snow reported. 103 trails and 14 lifts open.
  • Lobos open NCAA tourney on Friday
    ALBUQUERQUE — The past is the past, according to the University of New Mexico Lobos men's basketball team. And the Lobos are hoping their recent history at the NCAA tournament stays in the past. The Lobos will take on Stanford Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. UNM got the No. 7 seed for this year's tournament and will play the 10th-seeded Stanford Cardinal in the South Regional. The winner of Friday's game will meet, very likely, the second seed in the regional, the Kansas Jayhawks. For all UNM's success over the years, the Lobos haven't had much success in their history at the tournament. UNM has never escaped the second round since the tournament went to the current 64-team main bracket. While that's in the backs of many of the Lobos' minds, the team is trying to downplay both that fact and last year's upset loss.
  • Aztecs wary of Aggies, Bhullar
    SAN DIEGO (AP) — Steve Fisher cut down the final net in the NCAA tournament 25 years ago and reached two other national championship games, so he knows about playing deep into March. He’d like to think his fourth-seeded San Diego State Aztecs can advance beyond the opening weekend this year. To have that chance, the defensive-minded Aztecs first will have to get past an intriguing matchup Thursday night in Spokane against 13th-seeded New Mexico State and its big, big man, 7-foot-5, 355-pound center Sim Bhullar. Aztecs forward Winston Shepard recalls beating Bhullar in high school. “All I can really remember is we had a triple team on him and we still got dunked on,” Shepard said Monday. Have the Aztecs ever played against someone that big? “No, I don’t think anybody in America has,” said Fisher, who has the Aztecs in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year and seventh time overall since taking over SDSU’s previously sad-sack program starting with the 1999-2000 season. “He’s a big, big man. Everything about him is so much better than it was a year ago. I believe he’s only a sophomore. He will be someone who will make it difficult on us like he has on everybody he’s played this year.”
  • Kirk makes it through challenging 2013-14 season
    ALBUQUERQUE — It’s been an interesting ride from the get-go. And, despite the ups and downs, Alex Kirk would scarcely have it any other way. Kirk, the 7-foot center for the University of New Mexico Lobos, will embark on his third appearance in the NCAA tournament starting Friday when the seventh-seeded Lobos meet the 10th-seeded Stanford Cardinal in the opening round. To say the least, it’s been an eventful 12 months for the Lobos, and for Kirk. Kirk was the standout center playing for Los Alamos High School, who graduated in 2010 and went on to play for UNM. Now, as a junior — in terms of athletic eligibility, at least, as he finished up his undergraduate student work already — Kirk has rode the wave of a big 2013-14 season at UNM. This season, which saw the Lobos go 27-6 and win their third consecutive Mountain West tournament championship, could’ve gone a number of different ways, and no one is more aware of that than the UNM big man. Last March, right before the NCAA tournament and right after he agreed to terms on a hefty, 10-year contract with the school, Steve Alford left UNM to take over UCLA. That move, along with the implosion that was the Lobos’ first round loss to Harvard after earning a No. 3 seed, could’ve sent the program into a tailspin.
  • Lobos, Aggies both heading to Big Dance
    The University of New Mexico Lobos knocked off the San Diego State Aztecs in the final round of the Mountain West tournament. San Diego State still managed to get into the NCAA tournament with an at-large big, but if the Aztecs thought they were done with the state of New Mexico for awhile, they were wrong. The Aztecs, the No. 4 seed in the West Region of the NCAA tournament, will face the 13th-seeded New Mexico State Aggies. The Aztecs and the Aggies will play Thursday evening, following the conclusion of the Oklahoma-North Dakota State game at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time. San Diego State nipped UNM for the regular season Mountain West championship, but UNM topped San Diego State in the final round of the MW tournament Saturday in Las Vegas, Nev. Cameron Bairstow had 17 points and 9 rebounds, while former Hilltopper Alex Kirk finished with 8 points and 11 rebounds as UNM tripped up San Diego State 64-58. Despite two wins on the year in three chances against the Aztecs, who polled as high as No. 5 this season, as well as finishing with a 27-6 record, the Lobos were only awarded a No. 7 seed. They are matched up with 10th-seeded Stanford in the South Region and will play at 11:40 a.m. Friday.
  • Aggies survive WAC quarterfinal round
    LAS VEGAS, Nev. — New Mexico State University center Sim Bhullar posted his fourth straight double-double as the No. 2-seeded NMSU men’s basketball team defeated the seventh- seeded Seattle U Redhawks 70-68 in the Orleans Arena Thursday. Bhullar scored a season-high 24 points while pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds in one of the biggest performances of his career. Bhullar, a sophomore, added five blocked shots and three assists as the Aggies advanced to tonight’s Western Athletic Conference tournament semifinals. The Aggies pummeled the Redhawks’ defense in two regular season meetings, scoring nearly 100 points in both of those two games, but the Redhawks were up the challenge Thursday. “I am happy that we are still playing and I thought Seattle played really well and they gave it their all,” Aggie head coach Marvin Menzies said afterward. “You have to give credit to their team because they did a fantastic job and they were really prepared for us. Our guys showed heart in the second half and hitting free throws could be the difference of the game.” The Aggies advance to face No. 6 Bakersfield at 9:30 p.m. in tonight’s WAC semifinal round. The WAC championship game is Saturday.
  • Lobos one win away from MW finals
    LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A statement game was tossed out Thursday in the Thomas & Mack Center by the two teams that made statements throughout the season. The No. 2 seed University of New Mexico Lobos charged into the Mountain West Tournament semifinals with a 93-77 win over Fresno State, Thursday night. Also Thursday, San Diego State, the MW regular season champion, mauled Utah State 73-39. The Lobos advance to play Boise State, which beat Nevada 75-62. The Broncos are one of three teams to beat UNM in the regular season with their 71-70 win in Boise Feb. 12. The Aztecs, meawhile, will try to knock off the home team, UNLV, a 71-67 winner over Wyoming. The Thomas & Mack definitely will be rocking on Friday as the Rebels should draw a good crowd for their upset bid against the Aztecs. The venue was already was rocking Thursday night as Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk both scored 21 points to pace the quarterfinal win. “Our two big guys are hard to guard, hard to play,” said Lobo head coach Craig Neal.  “We made a concerted effort to go inside tonight. I really didn’t do anything different. I usually don’t wave a magic wand. We were fortunate that Cam and Alex had good nights. We can play a lot of different ways.  We really didn’t change much.”