Vance Jackson must love the Mountain West Tournament. Last season he scored 26 and 25 points in the two contests that his New Mexico Lobos played in the tourney. On Wednesday, in this season’s opening round of the MWC Tournament, Jackson shined again, scoring 26 points and adding 12 rebounds to lead UNM to a 79-66 win over the San Jose State Spartans.
Jackson exploded in the second half, scoring 16 of his 26 in the second 20 minutes, to help keep the Spartans at bay. Corey Manigault chipped in 18 points, and Makuach Maluach poured in 22 points, 16 of which came in the first half.
Early on it looked as if this came would be close; San Jose State got out to an 8-4 lead behind Richard Washington’s two three-points baskets and an Omari Moore layup. The scored stayed that way until 16:10 remaining in the first half. That is when the Lobos began to run away with it. A UNM 21-0 run over the next seven minutes put New Mexico up by 17 with 9:06 to play. The Lobos took a 45-29 lead into halftime.
In the second half the Lobos started sluggish, turning the ball over three times on their first three possessions. The Spartans parlayed that into a 7-0 run to start the half and got to within nine at 45-36. From there on out it was the Vance Jackson show as he scored 16 points over the final 20 minutes to help New Mexico pull away.
For San Jose State, Seneca Knight led the way with 22 points. Omari Moore added 17 for the Spartans, whose season comes to an end. The Spartans shot 40.7% from the field and were 5-for-22 from three-point range.
The win for New Mexico means that they will take on Utah State on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the MWC Tournament. The Lobos just beat the Aggies in The Pit this past Saturday night, and the two faced each other in last season’s MWC Tournament quarterfinals, with the Aggies winning 91-83.