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Last Minute Rally Gives Lobos Season Sweep of New Mexico State

by Steve Kirkland

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team used final-minute rally to down New Mexico State 73-72 Friday night at the Pan American Center. The Lobos (10-1) increased their win streak to nine straight while completing a season sweep of the Aggies (5-7) in the Rio Grande Rivalry.

Trailing by four with a minute to play, the Lobos used a three from Jaelen House, a coast-to-coast layup by Donovan Dent and a steal by Nelly Junior Joseph to rally for the win over the final 60 seconds.

JT Toppin led the Lobos with 18 points and 11 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. Dent had 14 points to go with six assists and four steals, while House also scored 14 points. Joseph scored 10 points and matched a career high with five steals.

The Lobos used an early 7-0 run to take a 7-3 lead after the opening four minutes of play. The Aggies would take advantage of a stretch of cold shooting by UNM to post a 9-0 run to take an 12-7 lead with 12:10 to play. NMSU led 14-11 at the midway point of the half before the Lobos retook the lead, 15-14, with 8:10 to go. After the teams traded the lead for several minutes, UNM took a six-point lead late in the half before leading 32-30 at the break. Toppin had 10 points to lead the Lobos in the first half.

In the second half, the Aggies took the lead with a three on the first possession before a 12-0 Lobo run pushed the advantage to 44-33 with 16:30 to go. The Aggies answered with a 12-1 run to tie the game at 47-47 with 12:00 to go. The Lobos retook the lead, 57-52, at the midway point of the half and held a 61-59 lead with 6:25 to go. UNM was up 64-62 with 4:00 to go before NMSU used three straight 3-pointers to go up 71-68 with 1:45 to play. The Aggies pushed the lead to 72-68 with 1:10 to go before a House triple cut the deficit to 72-71 with 56 seconds left. Dent grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup to give UNM a 73-72 lead with 21 seconds to go. Joseph got a steal on the next possession to seal the game for the Lobos.

• UNM won a game when trailing with 1:00 to go for the first time since Feb. 29, 2020 (trailed Utah State 63-61 with 1:00 to go, won 66-64)
• The Lobos won for the third straight time in Las Cruces
• New Mexico has won 10 non-conference games for the second straight season, longest streak since four straight years from 2010-13
• Isaac Mushila scored his 1,000th career point as a NCAA Division I player, the fourth active Lobo to accomplish the feat (House, Mashburn, Joseph)
• Jamal Mashburn, Jr. missed his sixth straight game due to injury

“Three big plays that won us the game: Jaelen House’s three, Donovan’s amazing finish at the rim and Nelly’s steal at the end. Credit to them, they knocked down a bunch of threes. I was concerned about this game. Any time you win in the fashion we did at our place, it is always going to be difficult to come down here. We just needed to find a way to pull out a win and I was proud of our guys in being able to do that. You aren’t going to blow out every team. You aren’t going to go into your rival’s gym and it’s going to be easy. We got tested tonight and it was a good experience for us.” – Richard Pitino

The Lobos return home to conclude the non-conference schedule with games against UC Irvine on Dec. 20 and Eastern New Mexico on Dec. 29. Tickets are on sale now at