Lobos backcourt leads charge over Spartans, 77-57

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — UNM started their two-game homestand with a win against San Jose State, 77-57. 

The Lobos (17-2, 4-2) took down the Spartans (12-7, 3-3) with their backcourt leading the way. Guards Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House both added 20 points to the board Tuesday night at The Pit. This was the seventh time that Mashburn Jr. and House have both scored 20 points in a game together over the past two seasons.

This also marks Mashburn’s 40th consecutive game scoring in double figures – something he’s primarily done with his lethal midrange jumper.

“It’s something that I’ve worked on and worked on in the gym for hours and hours and hours,” Mashburn Jr. said.

This game comes shortly after the Lobos’ big road win over San Diego State on Saturday.

“We were smarter, moved the ball better, and got some assists. I am proud of these guys to go from an emotional win at San Diego State and come back and be all business tonight against a San Jose State team we knew would be tough to beat,” coach Richard Pitino said.

While House and Mashburn Jr. led the way, forward Morris Udeze contributed in a big way too. Udeze grabbed his fourth consecutive double-double against the Spartans adding 17 points and 14 rebounds. 

“Just going to the boards I feel make a big difference [and] help this team a lot just by rebounding better,” Udeze said.

The Spartans had a small lead in the first few minutes of the game, but UNM quickly surged back. Mashburn Jr. put up 11 points in the first 20 minutes to push the Lobos’ 32-23 lead at halftime.

Shooting from the foul line helped propel the Lobos, adding 20-of-26 to the stat sheet. 10 of those free throws came from the first half. The Spartans also gave up 10 of their 19 fouls in the first half.

“We always want to put pressure on them at the foul line and a lot of that has to do with just our guards are pretty good off the bounce,” coach Pitino said.

While the Lobos shot 3-of-15 from beyond the arc, they didn’t need to rely on it offensively. 

“We kind of just let those come and today that just they just weren’t knocking down but we were able to figure it out,” Mashburn Jr. said.

UNM’s first three-pointer didn’t land until halfway through the second half with a corner shot from KJ Jenkins. Jenkins came right back on the next play to hit a mid-range jumper from the elbow. That sent the Lobos into a media timeout with a 45-29 lead.

Jenkins finished with 10 points on the board.

Another major key to the Lobos’ win? Defense.

UNM held the Spartans to 34% from the field and just 26% in the first half. Besides Omari Moore, who put up 24 points, no one else from San Jose State made it to double figures.

The Lobos play again at the Pit for a late Friday night game against Boise State (15-4, 5-1). Tipoff is at 9:00 p.m. MT.