Lobos move to 12-0 entering holiday break

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 94-63 win against Prairie View A&M topped off Lobos’ non-conference play and kept them undefeated as an early present for the holiday break.

“I’m not going to act like going 12-and-0 in non-conference [play] isn’t an accomplishment with what we took over and what we inherited and the whole situation,” said Richard Pitino, Lobos’ head coach. “To be able to do that in year two is great and just speaks to the character in the locker room.”

The Lobos improved to a 12-0 record for the first time since the 2012-13 season. This is also just the fourth time in team history that they went undefeated in non-conference play.

UNM is now one of the three undefeated men’s college basketball teams left in the U.S., alongside Uconn and Purdue.

The Lobos blew out the Prairie View A&M Panthers at The Pit but finding any sort of rhythm was difficult. Officials blew their whistles for numerous fouls and odd plays for both teams.

“It definitely does interrupt your rhythm a little bit,” Lobo forward Josiah Allick said.

Allick finished the game with four fouls, including three in the first half, which was just one aspect of the many whistles called during Tuesday night’s game.

UNM’s defensive prowess prevailed, helping surge the 31-point victory and some record-breaking stats into the mix. The Lobos had a school-record total of 14 blocks against the Panthers. They also grabbed 64 rebounds.

“I think they [team] understand like, our defensive numbers have to get better and I thought they did a good job of making a step in the right direction,” Coach Pitino said.

A big portion of those came from Morris Udeze, who tied a career-high 14 rebounds despite being heavily guarded in the paint by the Panthers. Udeze also earned 16 points. 

After surpassing his 1,000-point career mark against Iona, Sunday, guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. led the Lobos with 17 points, three assists, and three rebounds Tuesday against Prairie View A&M. 

UNM had a few other players in double-digits too, as freshman Donovan Dent earned a career-high 14 points off the bench. KJ Jenkins earned 13 points, and Jaelen House earned 10 points and nine rebounds. 

The Lobos get a little holiday break this week before conference play opens on Dec. 28 at home against Colorado State. Once conference play starts, the team will have the same goals in mind but their mindset will change a bit.

“Most teams know our plays, know everything about us, our defense, the players on the team all that, so we just got to be very precise on the offense and hard-nosed on defense,” Udeze said.