FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -With everything going so well for No. 23 New Mexico, coach Steve Alford had enough confidence in his team that he didn't feel the need for a high-energy, pregame pep talk.
When pesky TCU stayed close despite all its turnovers, Alford had a different approach at halftime of the Lobos' 73-57 victory Saturday.
``Halftime was spirited. I probably should have did it before the game, to be honest with you,' Alford said.
The Lobos (20-3, 6-2 Mountain West) responded, with Darington Hobson keying a 9-0 spurt after they had only a two-point lead at halftime. They stretched their winning streak to six games and clinched their third consecutive 20-win season under Alford.
TCU (10-12, 2-5 Mountain West) was still within the halftime margin of two points before Hobson scored consecutive baskets to start the game-turning, 3-minute run. He capped the spurt with a tip-in with just under 13 minutes left to put New Mexico up by 11, and the margin never got closer to nine after that.
``It just woke us up,' Hobson said of his coach's halftime speech.
``When you're 19-3, you've won five in a row, you've had really no bad stretches, sometimes you just have to trust them,' Alford said. ``They didn't do the things I thought they needed to do in the first half, so we had to have a little bit more spirited halftime to kick them a little bit. I thought they did a good job.'
After trailing by as many as nine, TCU closed the first half with a 13-6 run and was within 30-28 when Ronnie Moss hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Hobson finished with 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting, following a three-game stretch in which he had only 19 points combined. He was 1-of-11 shooting with five points in the Lobos' 76-72 victory over No. 12 BYU on Wednesday night that ended the Cougars' 15-game winning streak.
``The games that I've been struggling, I felt like I was forcing it,' Hobson said. ``Coaches said that I really wasn't. I just had to get back to being aggressive. ... I told myself tonight that no matter what happened, I was going to keep my head, stay aggressive and try to make plays.'
Phillip McDonald added 18 points and Roman Martinez 16 for the Lobos, whose winning streak has come since they started conference play with consecutive losses. Will Brown and Hobson had eight rebounds apiece.
Moss had a career-high 30 points, on 12-of-17 shooting with five 3-pointers, and eight assists. Zvonko Buljan, who is from Croatia and one of five international players on the roster, finished with 11 points after not making the trip with the team for Wednesday night's loss at Colorado State because of personal reasons.
TCU was still within 34-32 after Buljan's 3-pointer before Hobson took over.
New Mexico never trailed after McDonald's jumper six minutes into the game made it 11-10, and Hobson converted a steal into a 3-pointer about a minute later.
Buljan hit a 3 after getting a bounce pass from Moss but the Frogs had only one basket over the next eight minutes, when Nikola Cerina had a steal and passed to Moss, who penetrated the lane and made a layup between defenders.
Moss followed with turnovers on consecutive possessions, and TCU had five turnovers and four missed shots before Moss made a 17-foot bank shot with the shot clock running down with 4 minutes left in the half that cut New Mexico's lead to 24-17.
The Lobos, who scored 19 points off 16 TCU turnovers, now get a break. They don't play again until next Saturday, at home against San Diego State, before going to UNLV - the two teams that beat them to start conference play.
``We were really good defensively for all 40 minutes,' Alford said. ``It's amazing what this squad has done: 6-2 in the league, 20 wins before we get to February. ... Now we get a week off. We'll take advantage.'
The Associated Press News Service
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