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Lobos Cap Non-Conference with 87-54 Win over Eastern New Mexico

by Steve Kirkland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team completed non-conference play with its 11th straight win, downing Eastern New Mexico 87-54 on Friday night at The Pit. The Lobos (12-1) pulled away late in the first half to take control from the Greyhounds (8-2) and finish a perfect month of December for the second straight year.

Jaelen House scored a game-high 22 points to lead UNM, one of five double-figure scorers for the team. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. added 17 points in his first action since Nov. 22, while Nelly Junior Joseph had 13 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Off the bench, Braden Appelhans scored a career-high 14 points and Mustapha Amzil matched a season high 11 points.

The Lobos got off to a cold start offensively, missing their first seven field goals as Eastern held a 4-1 lead after three and a half minutes of play. The Greyhounds led 13-6 with 13:15 left in the half after a 7-0 run. Eastern held a 17-14 lead at the midway point of the half before a Braden Appelhans triple tied the game with 9:05 to play. That sparked a 6-0 run that gave UNM a 20-17 lead with 8:10 to go. The Lobos used a late 20-0 run to take a 43-23 lead into halftime as House had 15 points to lead UNM. Joseph had a first-half double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

In the second half, UNM pushed the lead to 59-30 with 14:00 to play as they made 7-of-10 field goals to start the period. A 9-0 Lobo run gave them a 68-34 lead with 10:40 to go as they led 70-36 at the midway point of the half. Eastern would cut the deficit to 72-45 with a 6-0 run with 7:00 to play before UNM pushed the advantage back to 80-46 at the final media timeout. The Lobos would lead by as many as 36 in the final minutes as they closed out the 33-point victory.

• New Mexico finished the non-conference 12-1 and are 25-1 in regular season non-conference games over the past two seasons (second-best record nationally)
• The Lobos won their 19th straight regular season home non-conference game
• UNM’s 20-0 run late in the first half matched the Lobos’ best scoring run of the Pitino era (also had a 20-0 run vs. Western New Mexico in 2021-22)
• Joseph became the first Lobo to post a first-half double-double since Carlton Bragg at Wyoming (11 pts, 10 rebs) on March 9, 2019
• Joseph’s 15 first-half rebounds were the most in a half by a Lobo in the Mountain West era
• Jamal Mashburn, Jr. returned to the lineup after missing the last seven games due to injury
• Donovan Dent (injury) and Tru Washington (illness) both missed their first game of the season
• Attendance of 11,962 marked the largest crowd at The Pit for a non-Division I opponent (preseason or regular season) since the 2014-15 exhibition vs. Adams State (13,171)

“First and foremost, extremely grateful to the 12,000 fans that came out for a game against a Division II team. It shows how great our fan base is. I was worried about the first game after Christmas, five days off, all those little things and then Tru and Donovan are out, but it gave an opportunity to some other guys to get some minutes. Braden took advantage of it. We got Mash back into the fold. We pulled away in the first half and then held that lead in the second. 12-1 was a great non-conference, but now we have some great opportunities in front of us.” – Richard Pitino

The Lobos will begin Mountain West play on Jan. 2 with a visit to No. 15 Colorado State. Game time is 8:30 p.m. and the game will air on FS1 and the Lobo Radio Network. New Mexico’s home conference schedule begins on Jan. 6 as it hosts Wyoming.