Lobos put on a clinic in conference-opening victory against Colorado State
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The No. 22 Lobos made a statement Wednesday night as they moved to 13-0 with a 88-69 win in their conference opener against Colorado State.
The CSU Rams quickly had a 5-0 run early in the game, but shortly after, the Lobos had a 17-0 run – grabbing them the lead and the momentum from that point on. The Lobos held a 25-point lead at halftime against the Rams, 49-24, and maintained in the second half for a 19-point win.
With their victory at the Pit, the Lobos now have their best start to a season in 55 years.
“This is the first time since 1967 since they’ve started 13-0, and our guys should be applauded for that,” head coach Richard Pitino said.
The Pit was screaming top to bottom with fans after a nearly soldout crowd of 15,215 people showed out to cheer on the nationally ranked team. Whether it was insistent booing at the refs or a perfectly in-sync wave, fans decked out in cherry and silver were in full force.
The Lobos gave fans a lot to cheer about, too, after a barrage of threes rained down in the Pit.
Lobo players combined to shoot at a clip of 60% from beyond the arc, as they shot 15-of-25 from the three. UNM swished 10 threes in just the first half of the game, in response to the Rams’ game plan of clogging the paint.
The sharp-shooting is something UNM hasn’t displayed at full capacity yet, but, after scouting the Rams prior to this matchup, sharp-shooting seemed to be the answer.
“That’s why we took so many threes because they were gonna pack the paint and we were able to knock down a bunch in the first half,” said Coach Pitino.
“We were able to just get open looks and knock them down,” Jamal Mashburn Jr. said.
Mashburn Jr. was one of the major contributors to the shooting frenzy, shooting 4-of-8 from three, with 19 points, three assists and two rebounds.
Leading the charge against the Rams was guard Jaelen House.
House is already a high-intensity fast-paced player but he came out with a different energy for UNM’s conference opener. He recorded a season-high and game-high 26 points – shooting 10-of-14 from the field, 5-of-6 from three, as well as five assists and two rebounds.
As Lobo fans saw, House’s energy was fueled by having something to prove – especially against CSU point guard Isaiah Stevens.
“This was personal,” House said. “People have been saying he’s better than me so I just wanted to show people he’s not better than me.”
Stevens has averaged 18.3 points per game this season but was held to just 10 points against the Lobos.
Guard KJ Jenkins also helped with the shooting spree. Jenkins had 11 points and shot 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Forward Morris Udeze was the fourth Lobo player in double-digits with a quiet double-double. Udeze grabbed 10 points coupled with 13 rebounds.
Next, the Lobos hit the road for the first time in conference play against Wyoming (5-8, 0-1) on Saturday, Dec. 31. Then they head to California to take on Fresno State (5-7, 1-0) on Tuesday, Jan. 3.