Open Announce

Lobos Ride Second Half Surge to Season-Opening Win over FAU

by Steve Kirkland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – The New Mexico men’s basketball team opened the 2021-22 season with a 99-92 victory over FAU on Wednesday night at The Pit. The Lobos used a second half surge to pull away from the Owls and post a win the debut of head coach Richard Pitino.

Five Lobos, all newcomers, scored in double figures, led by Jaelen House’s career-high 30 points. Gethro Muscadin and Jay Allen-Tovar each scored 18 points in their UNM debuts, while Jamal Mashburn, Jr. scored 14 points and K.J. Jenkins had 10 points.

New Mexico shot 53.0% from the floor, including 52.2% from behind the arc. It was the Lobos’ first game shooting over 50% from deep since Dec. 17, 2019 vs. Grand Canyon.

The Lobos got off to a cold start shooting, missing their first five field goal attempts before Mashburn scored the first points of the season on a turnaround jumper. That sparked the offense that spurred an 8-0 run to take a lead that grew to as large as five at 17-12. The Owls climbed back into the game and retook the lead with just over 8:00 in the half. The first half remained close as the Lobos took a 43-41 lead at the break after Jay Allen-Tovar’s putback layup at the buzzer.

The Lobos pushed the lead to eight after back-to-back threes by House and Muscadin started the half, but the Owls went on a 13-3 run to retake the lead at 54-52 with 15:30 to play. The Owls led by as many as five before the Lobos retook the lead midway through the second half. A 16-2 Lobo run gave them a 85-73 lead with 5:20 to play to take control of the game. UNM pushed the lead to 16 points before closing out the 99-92 victory.

• New Mexico’s starting lineup (Mashburn, House, Allen-Tovar, Todd, Seck) marked the first time in school history that five newcomers started a season-opener
• Lobo newcomers scored 92 of the team’s 99 points
• Five Lobos scored in double figures (UNM had no more than four double-figure scorers in any game last season)
• House had his third career 20-point game, his first as a Lobo (two at Arizona State)
• Muscadin scored seven points in 11 first-half minutes after scoring just two points in 12 games as  freshman at Kansas
• Six different Lobos made a 3-pointer as the Lobos made 12 from long distance
• New Mexico won 19th straight season opener and its 18th straight home opener

“To get that type of crowd, to get that type of energy, it fueled us tonight, especially in the second half. We know what this team means to this community, and the more nights we can have like this, we can get back to having fun again. Basketball wise, we were really hard to guard in the second half. We have to get tougher and scrappier. FAU is a very good team and we can learn a lot from this win.” – Head Coach Richard Pitino

The Lobos take to the road for the first time this season with a Saturday visit to Colorado. Game time in Boulder is 4:30 p.m. The game will air on the Pac-12 Mountain Network and on the Lobo Radio Network.