UNM remains undefeated, beats NDSU 76-55

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The UNM men’s basketball team held onto their undefeated status after a 76-55 win against North Dakota State University on Saturday Night in the Lobo Classic basketball tournament. The Lobos are now 5-0 this season. They’ve also inched their way into the KenPom Top 100 sitting at 96.

The Lobos defeated the Bison, but it came with a chippy start in the first half. While UNM led 32-25 in the first half, fouls and other calls by the refs slowed the game down quite a bit ultimately leading to a stagnant start for the Lobos. 

Jamal Mashburn Jr. led the pack with 19 points and five rebounds with Jaelen House not far behind with 14 points, five rebounds, and six assists. House’s performance was based around a lot of gritty plays and withholding energy up until the end of the second half where he topped off his points.

The distribution of scoring was pretty spread out too – something Coach Richard Pitino praised in tonight’s victory.

“I love the balance on the box score. Just I mean, you got 12 points 10,19,14, 8,7,6 – that’s what this is gonna be all about and that’s how good teams win,” Coach Pitino said.

With a spread-out offensive effort, it was also a spread-out, slow grind type of game. In the first half, and into the second, the Lobos could not get into a rhythm to really lengthen their lead. Their defensive efforts in the first half alone held the team together when the offense couldn’t get going – the Lobos held the Bisons to just 21% shooting from the field in the first half.

“We had a lot of deflections. We had nine steals, so we’re just a little bit more, you know it’s recovering for each other better,” Coach Pitino said.

While the Lobos struggled to get going the most they have through five games, their composure wasn’t affected. Fighting through the highs and lows of a game like this showed a glimpse of UNM’s culture when facing a little adversity.

“We emphasize just, you know, staying even keel the whole game because we know that things are gonna happen you know, calls are not going to go our way and the refs are human just like us when we make mistakes,” Jamal Mashburn Jr. said.

The second half is where that composure became fruitful and the Lobos were able to stretch the lead out to solidify the game. Although the different fouls called on players like Morris Uduze – who had four – and Mashburn Jr. and House who both notched three, UNM revived some energy that was lacking a bit in the first half. 

House played a huge role in that with quick jolts to any glimpse of a loose ball topping things off with a major block on the perimeter, to just simply finding the open man.

With UNM always finding a way to get their offense moving when needed these last few games, defense is an important key to try to match.

“Our offense is way ahead of our defense but if our defense can catch up, then we’re going to be a really really good team in my opinion,” Coach Pitino said.

UNM has a chance to win the Lobo Classic Sunday against Big Sky opponent, Northern Colorado. Tip-off for the game is at 5:30 p.m. at the Pit.