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The Journal Gazette

  • New Mexico head coach Steve Alford walks off the court after being ejected during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Louis, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, in St. Louis. Saint Louis won 60-46. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Monday, December 31, 2012 11:42 pm

Lobos score 13 in 1st half in loss to Saint Louis

The Associated Press

Steve Alford could not believe his eyes.

The New Mexico coach watched in a state of shock Monday night as his No. 20 Lobos managed just 13 points in the first half of a 60-46 loss at Saint Louis.

New Mexico (13-2) missed 9 of its first 12 shots and committed 15 turnovers on its first 28 possessions as Saint Louis rolled out to a 33-13 lead at the break.

"Our team has been really good all year long, but that was about as poor a half as our team can play," Alford said. "We were obviously not ready to play - and that falls on the head coach."

New Mexico failed to get off a shot on seven consecutive possessions, helping St. Louis open an 18-7 lead.

"We just weren't ready to play at all," forward Alex Kirk said. "It's disappointing because we didn't take care of business the way we had hoped to."

Cory Remekun scored a career-high 15 points and Cody Ellis added 13 to lead Saint Louis (10-3) to its seventh win in a row - the Billikens' longest streak since winning eight straight from Feb. 12-March 13, 2003.

Kendall Williams led New Mexico with 15 points. Kirk added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Saint Louis improved to 10-1 at home.

Alford was ejected for the first time in his 22-year coaching career after receiving back-to-back technical fouls with 9:26 remaining in the contest. The Lobos trailed 49-31 at the time.

"I said, "That's a foul and I got T'd up," Alford said. "I said, "That's still a foul. And I got my second technical. I've never seen anything like that in 22 years."

Alford was quick to point out that his ejection had little to do with the outcome of the game. Saint Louis simply overwhelmed the Lobos in the opening half.

"No excuse for it," Kirk said.

Remekun, who came in averaging 6.2 points, provided a much-needed offensive boost for the Billikens. He scored 10 points in the first 18:22 and played key roles in early runs of 12-0 and 11-2 that staked Saint Louis to an early 20-point lead.

"I was just trying to be a little more aggressive out there, doing what the team needs me to do," Remekun said. "It feels a little different - but it feels good, too."

Saint Louis interim coach Jim Crews enjoyed seeing the hard-working Remekun do some damage at the offensive end for a change.

"I've always talked about him doing the little things that don't show up in the stat sheet, which he continues to do," Crews said. "That was neat for a kid who is a senior and has invested as much time as he has in this program to come out and play like that against a good team."

Remekun converted off a pass from Jordair Jett to push the lead to 20-10 midway through the half. He then added a pair of baskets from close range before scoring off an offensive rebound to close out the first-half scoring.

Saint Louis, which scored 30 points off turnovers, used a lock-down defensive effort to take a 31-12 lead.

New Mexico did not have a field goal over the final 6:57 of the opening half. The Lobos first-half total of 13 points was their lowest since March 18, 2005, when they trailed Villanova 34-11 at the break in the NCAA tournament.

The Lobos committed a season-high 21 turnovers against a swarming Saint Louis defense.

"This was by far the best half we've played all year," Ellis said. "Playing defense like that is so much fun. It's a huge momentum swing."

Alford was surprised his team came out so flat after an impressive 55-54 win at then-No.8 Cincinnati on Thursday.

New Mexico managed to make a run in the second half. The Lobos pulled to 38-29 on a jumper by Williams with 13:29 left, but the Billikens responded with a 14-2 run to regain control.

"We played pretty well in the second half," Kirk said. "But any time you go on the road and score just 13 points in a half, it's going to be impossible to come back."

The Lobos beat Saint Louis 64-60 in a New Year's Eve meeting last season in Albuquerque.

The Billikens, who trailed 3-0, had led from start to finish in their previous three contests. The have won their last five games by a combined 101 points.

Saint Louis held a 32-16 advantage in the paint.