The turquoise-clad, run-and-gun Lobos looked and played the part of University of New Mexico men’s basketball teams from the glory days in the late 70’s.
For at least one night.
Those throwback turquoise uniforms reminiscent of the Ellenburger Era, and frenzied pace at both ends of the court, made for a record-breaking shootout against the host Wyoming Cowboys on Tuesday. The hot-shooting Lobos defeated the Cowboys 119-114 as the two teams combined for an Auditorium Arena record 233 points. The Lobos’ point tally also set the mark for the most points allowed by the Cowboys at home. UNM finished the game sinking a sizzling 61.7 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Other records set:
-- UNM hit 13 3-pointers to break the all-time school record in a season with 314. The previous record was 301 set by the 1997-98 Lobos led by Kenny Thomas that featured sharpshooters Royce Olney, Clayton Shields, Kevin Henry and Lamont Long.
-- The Lobos broke the record for most points scored in a conference game, previously 113 set against Utah State on Feb. 23, 1978.
The blur of turquoise running to and fro brought back the Lobo nostalgia, with a twist.
Instead of 70’s stars Michael Cooper and Marvin Johnson pouring in points it was Sam Logwood and Troy Simons (minus the short shorts and long socks of their former brethren) leading six Lobos in double figures with 24 points apiece.
Instead of a high-flying Coop-A-Loop the Lobos featured an encore Logwood Rattle-A-Rim windmill slam.
Instead of Stormin’ Norman coaching the sidelines in his signature squash blossom and 70’s ‘stache, UNM showcased Coach Paul Weir in a turquoise-tinged tie barking to his WeirWolves to keep up the rapid pace in an effort to outlast, or outscore, the Cowboys.
The road win was only the third for UNM this season and boosted the Lobos to 9-6 in Mountain West play and 14-14 overall. Entering Wednesday’s league slate, the Lobos sit alone in fourth place in the conference. Wyoming fell to sixth in the standings with an 8-7 record, 17-11 overall. The top three teams entering Wednesday’s games were Nevada (12-2), Boise State (10-4) and Fresno State (9-5). UNLV trails the Lobos at 8-6.
UNM’s performance, at one end of the court, likely will have to improve if the Lobos are going to hold off the other MWC contenders for a top-five spot in the standings, and the accompanying first-round tournament bye.
In a game that didn’t feature much defense from either squad, the only thing that slowed either team was the rate of the referees’ whistles. The two teams were called for a combined 64 fouls, and converted 59 free throws. The Lobos sank a season-high 32 points from the line while the Cowboys made 27, the most against UNM this season.
The Lobos crucial conference stretch resumes on Sunday at home vs. UNLV at noon on CBS Sports. UNM held on for an 85-81 victory over the Rebels in their previous meeting this season.
Center Vladimir Pinchuk hasn’t fared well on the court since returning from a three-game absence in the concussion protocol. In the three games since his return, Pinchuk has shot a combined 0-for-1 from the field and 1-for-4 from the stripe. He has scored one point with five rebounds and eight fouls over the same span. Forward-guard Jachai Simmons similarly has looked rusty since missing three games because of a death in his family. Simmons has a combined three points over the past three games since his return to the team in limited minutes off the bench.
15 AND COUNTING
Guard Anthony Mathis scored 10 points and despite not being a focal point of the Lobos offense, continued his streak of double figures scoring at 15 games.