The Lobos defeated #6 Nevada last night. A shocking win to say the least. The Wolf Pack had been rolling prior to this contest in Albuquerque. They came into Saturday night’s game undefeated and ranked. But if you know the history of ranked teams playing in The Pit, you saw this coming. If you are unfamiliar with this history, allow me to get you up to speed.
January 2, 1988 (UNM 61, #1 Arizona 59)
We begin our journey down memory lane with our first major upset, UNM over #1 Arizona. Much like Nevada, the Wildcats came into this game undefeated. Along the way, they defeated the likes of Michigan, Syracuse, and Duke. Led by their pair of All-Americans, Sean Elliot and future Bulls player and Golden State Head Coach Steve Kerr. No one thought this game would even be close. But UNM came out of the gate hot! Leading 25-9 just 10 minutes into the game. But the Wildcats, led by a combined 38 point effort from both Kerr and Elliot trimmed the Lobo lead to 2 in the closing minutes. But Elliot would be blocked on a game-winning 3-point attempt, and the Lobos would hang on to win, 61-59.
February 1, 1998 (UNM 77, #3 Utah 74)
10 years later, another undefeated team matched into The Pit to take on the Lobos. This time, it was the Utah Utes. The Utes at this point were 18-0 and riding high into Albuquerque ranked #3 in the nation. Unlike the game against Arizona, UNM was behind most of this game. With about 3 minutes left to play in the game, Utah led UNM 69-60. Then things got interesting. With the score at 71-65, UNM’s Royce Olney stole the ball and seemingly poked Utah’s Andre Miller in the eye. This caused Miller to fall to the floor, hitting his head in the process. While Miller laid on the floor, Olney drilled a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to one. The Utes never recovered from this series of events. Olney went on to hit a dagger 3 with seconds left to secure the win for UNM.
January 29, 2011 (UNM 86, #9 BYU 77)
At 20-2, the Cougars looked as good as any team in the nation. BYU came into this contest owners of a 10 game winning streak. This was a tightly contested game for the most part. After the first half, BYU had a 36-32 lead. UNM was right there with one of the top teams in the country. The second half is when UNM began to pull away. Freshman Tony Snell hit 3 huge shots in the second to help secure the win for UNM. This offensive display was a little out of the ordinary for Snell, who played most of the game as a defensive standout for UNM. But with his contributions, UNM was able to pull off yet another upset at home against a ranked team.
February 18, 2012 (UNM 65, #11 UNLV 45)
This was close game after the first half, then UNM took over in the second. Coming into this game, both teams had 22 wins, yet UNLV was ranked and UNM was not. This could’ve been a huge source of motavation for the Lobos, as they ran away with this game in the second half. The Lobos got a huge game from Drew Gordon. His 27 point effort led the Lobos to yet another upset at home!
February 22, 2014 (UNM 58, #6 SDSU 44)
Much like the game against the Rebels. The Lobos relied on the efforts of Cameron Bairstow. He scored in all kinds of ways for the Lobos. Rather it be through dunks, layups, or jumpers. His 26 points helped lift UNM over the ranked Aztecs. UNM head coach Craig Neal told the media he had the best power forward in the nation, and Bairstow proved it with his effort. And once again, the Lobos upset a ranked team on their home court.
January 5, 2019 (UNM 85, #6 Nevada 58)
Which bring us to what happened Saturday night. UNM, who have been struggling to find their identity all season, pulled off one of the biggest upsets so far this season. Defeating the 6th ranked team in the nation by 27 points. This was a good ole’ fashioned blowout. When their fans stormed the court after the win, it put an exclamation point on another upset, another ranked team losing in The Pit.