Open Announce

Lobos Down UC Irvine 78-65 to Post Tenth Straight Victory

by Steve Kirkland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team ran its win streak to 10 with a 78-65 victory over UC Irvine on Wednesday night at The Pit. The Lobos (11-1) used a strong second half to down the Anteaters (7-5) and post their seventh double-figure win of the season.

Jaelen House led the Lobos with 20 points and five assists. Nelly Junior Joseph and Donovan Dent each had 12 points, while Mustapha Amzil added a season-high 11 points off the bench. JT Toppin just missed his fourth double-double of the season, scoring nine points to go with a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Lobos opened the game on a 6-0 run over the first two minutes, but UCI would use a 7-0 run to take its first lead, 10-8, with 13:30 to play. UNM’s cold shooting, making just 1-of-15 field goal attempts, allowed the Anteaters to hold a 14-12 lead at the midway point of the half. UCI would take a 21-18 lead with 7:30 to play before UNM retook the lead, 28-23, with an 8-0 run with 2:30 to play in the half. The Lobos took a 33-27 lead into halftime as Dent led UNM with 10 first-half points.

In the second half, the teams traded baskets early on with UNM holding a 39-34 lead after four minutes of play. A House triple with 13:25 left gave the Lobos their first double-figure lead at 46-36, before extending it to 48-36 with 12:56 left as the run grew to 7-0. After a technical on the UCI coach allowed House to go 4-for-4 from the line, UNM led 54-37 with 12:00 to play. After the lead grew to 18, a 7-0 UCI run cut the advantage to 56-45 at the midway point of the half. New Mexico led 64-49 with 6:30 to play before the Anteaters cut the margin to 10 at 64-54 with 5:00 to play. UNM answered with a 7-0 run to hold a 71-54 lead with 3:10 to go. The Lobos would lead by as many as (17) over the final three minutes as they closed out the 13-point victory.

• UC Irvine (No. 56 NET) is the highest ranked win of the year so far for the Lobos
• The Lobos won its 18th straight regular season home non-conference game
• Amzil became the 10th different Lobo to have a double figure scoring game this season
• Jamal Mashburn, Jr. missed his seventh straight game due to injury

“It was a great win. I was concerned with that game, not because of when we were playing it, but because of who we were playing. I thought UC Irvine was a really good opponent. I thought they would try to grind us out a bit. They did a really good job on Donovan and Jaelen House stepped up. We were not making shots in the first half and in the second half we were able to get the ball inside. We need to be able to find that balance throughout the flow of a game. Mash coming back will certainly help us make shots. Defensively we did a lot of good things and we fought on the glass and continue to turn teams over. Ten in a row and 11-1 is great, especially after beating a really good team.” – Richard Pitino

The Lobos will conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule on Dec. 29 by hosting Division II Eastern New Mexico. Game time is 7 p.m. and the game will air on the Mountain West Network and the Lobo Radio Network.