Open Announce

No. 25 Lobos Drop 80-77 Contest to UNLV

by Steve Kirkland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The No. 25 New Mexico men’s basketball team suffered its second consecutive home loss, falling to UNLV 80-77 on Saturday night at The Pit. The Lobos (19-5, 7-4 MW) couldn’t rally for the victory in the second half as the Runnin’ Rebels (13-9, 6-4 MW) swept the season series.

Donovan Dent and Jaelen House each scored 20 points to lead New Mexico. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. scored 11 points and Mustapha Amzil added 10 points off the bench. JT Toppin had eight points, 12 rebounds and tied a career high with five blocks.

The Rebels took a 12-2 lead over the first five-and-a-half minutes of the game as UNM missed its first five shots of the game. The lead grew to 16-4 with 13:20 left to play in the half as UNLV led 18-10 midway through the half. The Lobos cut the margin to 18-15 with 8:00 to go in the half before the Rebels extended the margin to 30-19 with 5:00 left. UNM tied the game at 37-37 in the final minute and used an And-1 from Toppin in the final seconds to take a 40-39 lead into the break. Dent had 12 first-half points to lead UNM.

In the second half, UNLV used an early 9-0 run to take a 48-42 lead with 16:40 to play and led 54-45 with 14:30 to go. The Lobos used a 12-0 run to retake the lead, 57-54, with 11:30 to play, a margin they held at the midway point of the half. The Rebels retook the lead, 58-57, with 9:00 to play before the teams traded the lead for several possessions. The Rebels led 68-63 with 5:30 to go before the Lobos tied the game, 70-70, with 3:00 to go. After UNLV retook the lead with 2:00 to go, a pair of House free throws tied the game at 72-72 with 1:30 left. UNLV led 76-72 with 23.6 before an Amzil putback with 9.1 cut the margin in half. The Rebels made a pair of free throws with 4.9 left before Dent’s three with 1.2 left cut the margin to one. UNLV made a pair of free throws in the final second to make the final score 80-77.

• UNM lost for the first time this season when leading at the half
• The Lobos shot a season-low 35.4 percent and the second half (29.4 percent) was the lowest shooting half in two seasons (27.6 percent in the second half vs. Air Force on Feb. 26, 2022)
• New Mexico led at the half after trailing by 12 in the first half for the second time this season (San Diego State)
• UNLV improves to 16-15 all-time at The Pit, the only visiting team with a winning record in the building with a minimum of three games
• It was the third sellout of the season at The Pit

“It is obviously disappointing to drop two in a row at home, to not take advantage of an amazing crowd. You have to give UNLV a lot of credit, they went out and got it. They are a talented team, well-coached, played hard and their size and length bothered us. They made free throws when they needed to at the end. We just kept coming back, tying the game or taking a one-point lead, but we just couldn’t build a lead to get over the hump.” – Richard Pitino

The Lobos will begin a two-game road trip on Tuesday with a visit to Nevada. Game time in Reno is 9 p.m. MT (8:00 p.m. PT) and the game will air on CBS Sports Network.