Open Announce

Lobos Down Toledo 92-84 to Open Ball Dawgs Classic

by Steve Kirkland

HENDERSON, Nev. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team began play at the Ball Dawgs Classic Tuesday night with a 92-84 victory over Toledo at the Dollar Loan Center. The Lobos (3-1) took the lead for good with eight minutes to play and pulled away to hand the Rockets (3-1) their first loss of the season.

JT Toppin became the first Lobo freshman in history to record consecutive double-doubles, setting career highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds on the night. His 27 points came on 11-of-12 shooting and a perfect 5-of-5 from the line, as he produced the highest freshman scoring total in 13 years. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. also scored 27 points for New Mexico, while Donovan Dent scored 17 points and tied a career high with seven assists.

Toledo opened the game strong, taking a 7-2 lead after the first 2:15 of the game and pushed the lead to 15-8 after the opening five minutes. The Lobos used an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the night, 16-15, with 10:30 left in the half. The teams traded the lead for several minutes before the Rockets took a 25-20 lead with 7:00 to go. An 8-0 Lobo run gave them the lead back at 28-25 with 5:00 to go. UNM used a third 8-0 run of the half to close out the period and take a 42-32 lead into the break. Toppin had 16 points, setting a new career high, in the first half.

In the second half, Toledo cut the lead to 47-44 over the first two minutes of action. The Lobos pushed the advantage back to eight before a 9-2 Rocket run gave them back the lead, 55-54, with 13:45 to play. UNM would retake the lead, 63-58 at the midway point of the half before a 6-0 Toledo run gave them a 64-63 lead with 8:30 left. New Mexico scored the next five to retake a four-point lead and extended the advantage to 76-69 with 5:00 to go.  A Mashburn layup-and-one gave UNM an 81-75 lead with 2:45 to play, a margin UNM would hold, 85-79, with 1:00 to play. The Lobos would lead by as many as eight in the final minute before closing out the 92-84 victory.

• Toppin’s 27 points were most by a Lobo freshman since Alex Kirk had a freshman school-record 31 against Cal State Bakersfield (Jan. 5, 2011)
• Toppin made his first 11 field goal attempts and was one more make from tying Luc Longley’s best perfect FG school record of 12-of-12 (vs. UT Arlington on Nov, 23, 1990)
• Toppin ended the game at 11-of-12, the third-best FG% in school history (with min, 10 FGs), and best by a freshman
• Toppin is the fifth Lobo freshman to have at least two double-doubles in a season (Kenny Thomas [7], Mark Walters [2], John Robinson II [2] and Alan Dolensky [2])
• Toppin became the sixth different teammate that Mashburn has partnered with for a game where teammates each scored 20 points (joining Jaelen House, Javonte Johnson, Jay Allen-Tovar, Morris Udeze and Donovan Dent)

“Those Toledo guards a really, really tough. Where we did a great job was offensive rebounds. We felt like we could do that with our size. I watch us play and think we aren’t even close to where we can be. We just have to find a way to get these wins. I thought Toledo would be a big challenge, but a lot of credit to our guys. We showed a lot of toughness for sure.” – Richard Pitino

New Mexico will continue play in the Ball Dawgs Classic on Wednesday with a matchup with Rice. The Owls lost their first game of the event, falling to Indiana State 103-88 on Tuesday. Game time Wednesday is approximately 7:45 p.m. MT (6:45 p.m. PT) and will be broadcast on FloHoops and the Lobo Radio Network.