I had the perfect heading for today's recap: "The Lobos feast on Nicholls State." Of course it was a play on the whole holiday theme. Except the Lobos did not feast on the Colonels. At best they nibbled on them as Nicholls State gave UNM all they could handle, playing them even pretty much throughout the whole game. Nicholls State managed to silence over 12,000 in attendance woefully quiet throughout the first half with an array of dunks and three-pointers.
New Mexico went into intermission with a 39-35 lead, but the squad required two runs (7-0 and 7-2) towards the end of he half to overtake the Colonels. Prior to that, the Colonels used a balanced attack from T.J. Carpenter (10 points and 3 rebounds) and Ja'Dante Frye (22 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals) to build what would be their largest lead of the night, eight, with nine minutes left int he first half.
The Lobos shot terribly in the first half as the team went 11-28. However, Obij Aget (3-3) and Sam Logwood (2-4) provided some consistency while Eljiah Brown (18 points and 5 assists for the game) was able to go 6-6 from the free throw line.
New Mexico played marginally better in the second half and began to get some contributions from Cullen Neal (who had 12 points on 18 shots and five assists) and Tim Williams (who chipped in another double-double with 12 points and 10 boards). UNM just did not shoot well tonight, going a horrid 6-29 from three.
Two moments perhaps sparked UNM's victory. The first was when Nicholls State's second leading scorer Carpenter was ejected from the game in the second half after picking up his second technical. Carpenter was doing quite well in the second half, even giving the Colonels a 42-41 lead off of a layup with 17 minutes left. He was ejected with fourteen minutes left and the Lobos leading 50-44 (and in the midst of a run). From that point on, UNM's lead continued to grow whereas the Colonels struggled to score. Both technicals came as a result of double technicals involving small skirmishes with Lobo players.
The Lobos capitalized on his absence and Brown scored 5 of his 18 in a decisive second-half 14-2 run that put New Mexico up for good. This game was closer than it should have been. Nicholls State played very well, but in the end, the Lobos knocked down some free throws and scored when they had to.
New Mexico wore their Nike N7 turquoise jerseys (not pictured) in honor of Native American Heritage Month. After the game, the Lobos auctioned off their jerseys and raised $4,300 for the NB3 Foundation and the UNM American Indian Student Services Department. This was a nice endeavor by the University of New Mexico and they are one of about a dozen teams in the nation to do this.
The Lobos will take on Oral Roberts in the Pit on December 1st at 7:00 p.m. MT.