Lobos outlast South Alabama in Friday night duel

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team held off Southern Alabama, 80-74, to start their season 2-0.

While the guards continue to be a major piece for this team, Friday’s game showed just how seamless the guards were able to run some offense through the frontcourt too.

“They showed a high level of unselfishness, to throw that thing down, they spaced the court properly,” Coach Richard Pitino said.

Aside from their scoring abilities, guards Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr.’s control of the game started with the vision they had across the whole court.

Dropping quick passes off of pick-and-rolls graduate senior Morris Udeze to seeing senior Josiah Allick in transition for a quick dime to the basket – their eyes were open to it all. This is something coach Pitino wanted to see more of after Tuesday’s game.

“I mean it’s we’ve said over and over again to Mash [Mashburn Jr.] and [Jaelen] House; like you’re gonna have to sacrifice a little bit not a lot,” Coach Pitino said. “We want you to score points, but we got to go where our bread is buttered throughout the course of the game and with their foul trouble I thought going down low was the best option.”

With Mashburn Jr. racking up three fouls, getting touches inside to guys like Udeze and Allick played a huge role in UNM’s success Friday night.

With the assists that went inside, Allick returned the favor to Mashburn Jr. for a dagger-three in the Lobos’ last possession that sealed the game with 14 seconds left.

“Josiah is a really good player; he’s a winner … we talk about it all the time, winning plays, he made a winning play at the end of the game to kick the ball out to Mash [Mashburn Jr.],” Coach Pitino said. 

Four Lobos scored in double figures – and they were all starters too.

House and Udeze tied for a team-high 21 points.

Allick had 13 points and shot 4-for-8 from the field. He almost had a double-double as he also earned nine rebounds and three assists.

“It’s just kind of the dirty work people don’t want to do and that’s kind of where I make my living,” Allick said.

Udeze stayed out of any foul trouble this game and only grabbed two for the night, giving him more playing time to tally up his 21 points.

“I keep my stuff on the floor, I could just have a better chance to put up good numbers,” Udeze said.

Before the Lobos head to Southern Methodist University, working on some defensive errors will be a takeaway from this game.

“I just feel like you just gotta help each other a lot more on defense,” Udeze said.

UNM takes on SMU, Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6:00 p.m. MT., before they return to Albuquerque to defend the Pit, Saturday, Nov. 19 against New Mexico State.