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UNM stifled by Utah defense in 80-69 loss

Failure makes fourth consecutive road game loss

Staff and Wire Report

SALT LAKE CITY - Kevin Bradley scored 19 points and Jeff Johnsen had 15 as Utah made a late run to defeat New Mexico 80-69 Monday.

The Utes, who stretched their conference home winning streak to 42 games, outscored the Lobos 16-6 to end the game and held UNM to just one field goal in the last 5:17.

"I feel awful and I don't care how tough these conference games are on the road because this place was not sold out and with all due respect to the University of Utah, this was not a tough place to play," UNM coach Fran Fraschilla said during his postgame radio show. "They've got a solid team, but we had a chance to steal a win here and we didn't do it. We just didn't do it."

Travis Spivey scored 12 points and Nate Althoff added 11 as the Utes (13-9 overall, 5-3 Mountain West Conference) shot 54 percent to overcome connecting on just 22-of-36 from the line.

"You expect they're other guards to score, but Spivey normally couldn't hit the water from the edge of a dock lit us up for 12 points because of the terrible defense we played," Fraschilla said. "It was like a game of hourse out there and it was painfully clear that our team played horrible defense and is not mentally tough enough right now to win on the road. I blame myself, I blame the other coaches and I blame the players."

Ruben Douglas had 20 points for the Lobos (13-7, 3-4), who lost for the 12th straight time in Salt Lake City. Wayland White scored 14 and Eric Chatfield had 13.

"Ruben played well and is really developing into a better player," Fraschilla said. "We had some sophomores on the floor playing well. This team went out there tonight and helped us out of a shooting slump, but we sort of just played loose and hung around the perimeter. Last year we played tough, hard-nosed defense. This year, it just wasn't there. It's great if your shots are falling, but you can't win without defense."

The Lobos shot one-4-11 in the last five minutes and have now lost four consecutive road games for the first time since the 1994-95 season.

"I know our fans are PO'ed that we lost a game we should have won, and I think they should be," Fraschilla said. "But, secondly, this was not a moral victory. We come up here to win, and I'll take the heat because I know where our program needs to be and where it will be."

The Utes, bolstered by the early return of Chris Burgess from an ankle injury, outrebounded UNM 23-11 in the second half and have now outrebounded opponents in 53 of their last 55 conference games.

Utah used a four-point play to cap a 10-3 run and take a 71-64 lead with 3:55 to play. Althoff scored on a power move and was fouled. He missed but Johnsen rebounded and scored in the lane.

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Johnsen, who started for the first time since Dec. 9, scored the first six points of the second half and Utah moved out to a 49-42 advantage. But the Lobos rallied and tied the game at 54 and again at 61 behind Douglas's shooting.

The game was tied 39-39 at halftime as the teams combined for 10 3-pointers. UNM shot 60 percent in the period and made five of seven shots from beyond the arc.

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