No. 21 Lobos fall to UNLV in second loss of the season

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — UNLV came out on top against the Lobos 84-77 handing them their first home loss of the year.

The Rebels (12-3, 1-2) took down the No. 21 Lobos (14-2, 2-2) in front of15,424 people – the first sellout crowd since 2015. What was once a roaring crowd Saturday night became a quiet arena by the end of the game.

This is the Lobos second loss this season and second conference loss of the year.

“We were close, but we just couldn’t quite close it out. But you know what, you got to give UNLV credit; they went and got it,” coach Pitino said.

The Lobos came out strong with an 8-and-0 run from Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn Jr., and Josiah Allick all helping find the basket and keeping the crowd on their feet.

While the Lobos came out strong in the first half, a few untimely turnovers and foul trouble are what started to foreshadow the game. Mashburn Jr. had two quick fouls just a few minutes into the game, truly impacting his minutes and rhythm into the game.

With a season-low of 21 minutes and finishing the night with four fouls, Mashburn Jr. still put up 19 points – this is his 37th consecutive game in doubles figures – the longest active streak in the Mountain West right now.

Morris Udeze led the team with a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds. The third player in double figures Saturday night was House. House scored 12 points, but those all came in the first half going scoreless for the rest of the game. 

“Jaelen is one of the best players in this league and you know, we tried to sit him down a couple of times and then try to get him back in there,” Pitino said.

Guard KJ Jenkins was back in this game after sitting out the Fresno State game on Tuesday from an ankle sprain. Jenkins added nine points to the board. Jenkins believes trusting each other on the court is a priority.

“We just need to trust each other. I think that’s the biggest thing for us to realize going through this season is we’re the only team that’s going to beat ourselves,” Jenkins said.

While the Lobos tried to make their other rotations flow with Mashburn Jr. for most of the first half, the Rebels began to eat away at small mistakes closer and closer to halftime.

“Right now, I feel like I can’t say we did one thing good,” Udeze said.

UNM capped off halftime with a crazy series of events after Allick grabbed a steal, and passed it down the court to Javonte Johnson who then found Morris Udeze under the basket for a two-handed slam at the buzzer. 

After halftime, it was a different ballgame. UNLV came out more efficient and aggressive on all ends of the court and after they picked up the lead just a few minutes in the second half, they never lost it.

“We got to be better coming under halftime,” Pitino said.

UNLV shot 48% from the field in the first half and brought that up in the second half to 55%. Rebels guard Elijah Harkless led the team with 25 points, six rebounds, and five assists – 21 of those coming in the second half alone.

The Lobos never grabbed the lead again but they fought to the very last seconds of the game bringing it as close as they could in the final 30 seconds of the game, but with turnovers and no good field goals, the Rebels came out on top.

The Lobos have a quick turnaround with another home game on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. against Oral Roberts (13-3, 4-0). This non-conference game is the second makeup game for the Lobos after UNM lost the New Mexico State series earlier this season.