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Maluach Double-Double Paces Lobos Past Undefeated Rice

HOUSTON, TEXAS — Overcoming early nerves and as much as a five-point deficit in the first half, The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team topped the previously-undefeated Rice University Owls on Sunday afternoon by a score of 72-61.

The Lobos open the 2020-21 season 1-0 while Rice falls to 4-1.

Senior Makuach Maluach, who is the lone returning starter for the Lobos and started his 57th consecutive contest on Sunday, kicked off his senior year with his third career double-double. He led the Lobos with 23 points and 12 rebounds including six offensive boards. Sunday also marked his 100th career contest.

Rebounding was the story of the game as New Mexico pulled down 49 rebounds compared to 30 for Rice, including 19 offensive. The last time the Lobos had 20 or more offensive rebounds was in the 2018-19 season.

Maluach was one of three Lobos to score in double figures and was joined by junior Rod Brown who posted 11 points and seven rebounds as well as redshirt-freshman Bayron Matos who collected 10 points and five boards.

Both Matos and Brown were two of six players to make their Lobo debuts on Sunday along with junior Saquan Singleton, junior Valdir Manuel, sophomore Jeremiah Francis III and freshman Javonté Johnson.

The Lobos, an almost entirely new squad battling first-game jitters against a 4-0 team, went down by five, 15-10 with 9:54 left in the first half after a 7-0 Owl run that was capped by back-to-back threes for the home team.

UNM tied it up on a layup from Singleton and a three from sophomore Emmanuel Kuac, 15-15, before continuing on a 17-3 run over 7:06 to take a nine-point lead, 27-18.

The Lobos’ run was an even scoring effort featuring two points each from Singleton, Kuac, Brown, Francis III and Maluach, capped by back-to-back jumpers from Manuel.

Rice closed the gap to six, 31-25 at the half.

It was Manuel who put the Lobos up by double digits in the second half with a triple with 13:16 left on the clock to put UNM up 45-35.

Rice worked to battle back with a free throw and a layup to make it a seven-point game with 10:17 left, but Maluach quickly shut down any thought of a comeback with a jumper followed by a three at the top of the circle just 24 seconds apart. With the play, UNM went back up by double digits, 50-38, and Rice called a timeout to regroup.

The UNM defense held tough while its offense pushed forward as the Lobos ultimately stretched the lead to 13 on a jumper by Francis III at 3:45. UNM was up by 13 with 21 seconds left before a three from Rice sophomore Quincy Olivari knocked it down to 10.

Maluach and Olivari finished the game with free throws for the 72-61 final.

Additional standout moments for the Lobos include a career-tying eight points from Kuac, nine points and six rebounds from Manuel and an early appearance for junior walk-on Clay Patterson.

Rice was led by Olivari, who notched 21 points, followed by sophomore Travis Evee who posted 15.

The Lobos are scheduled to return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 15 against Our Lady of the Lake at 5 p.m. MT / 6 p.m. CT in a neutral contest at Rice.

Postgame Notes

This was the eighth meeting between the two teams.

New Mexico now leads the series 6-2.

New Mexico is now 2-0 in Houston.

New Mexico has won the last two straight games in the series.


  • New Mexico outshot Rice from the floor 43.9-33.9 percent
  • Rice outshot UNM 37.1-23.5 percent from behind the arc
  • The Lobos dominated the boards, outrebounding the Owls 49-30
  • The Lobos posted 19 offensive rebounds, six of which came from senior Makuach Maluach
  • UNM outscored Rice in the paint 40-12
  • Six of UNM’s 11 players to touch the floor each made their Lobo debuts.
  • UNM had three scorers finish in double figures while Rice had two
  • Six Lobos finished with 20 minutes or more
  • UNM’s largest lead was by 13 points with 3:45 left in the second half
  • The Lobos led for 31:17 and the game was tied for 3:25.


  • Sunday’s game marked senior Makuach Maluach’s 100th career game played and 57th consecutive start
  • Maluach scored 23 points and racked up 12 rebounds for just his third career double-double
  • Maluach’s 23 points also marked his sixth career 20+ point game
  • Maluach scored 20+ points just once as a junior
  • The six individuals to make their Lobo debuts include junior transfers Rod Brown, Saquan Singleton and Valdir Manuel along with sophomore transfer Jeremiah Francis III, redshirt-freshman Bayron Matos and true freshman Javonté Johnson.
  • Matos burst on the scene with 10 points and five boards
  • Emmanuel Kuac tied his career-high eight points, matching his previous career high at Colorado State on Jan. 15, 2020.