The New Mexico Lobos men’s basketball team split their games this week.
UNM lost on Monday night in overtime to New Mexico State, but rebounded on Thursday night with a resounding victory over the Denver Pioneers.
On Monday versus NMSU, the Lobos built a 9-point first half lead only to see it evaporate early in the second half as the two rivals slugged it out.
Johnny McCants hit a layup with three seconds to play in regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 68-68.
In overtime, it appeared as though New Mexico State was going to pull away down the stretch, taking a 76-72 lead with one minute left in the extra session.
The Lobos were able to tie it up again, however, following a Jaelen House jumper, then Jamal Mashburn, Jr. hit one that followed an NMSU turnover.
With the game tied at 76-76, New Mexico State held the ball for the final shot.
Sir’Jabari Rice drove and found Nate Pryor. Knowing the clock was about to expire, Pryor flicked the ball over his head with his back facing the basket. The ball ricocheted off the backboard and went in for an improbable score.
The NMSU players celebrated by taunting the UNM student section and stomping on the Lobo logo at midcourt before UNM athletic director Eddie Nunez came on to the floor to get the opposing players off the logo.
New Mexico’s loss to New Mexico State fell their record to 5-4 on the season and also snapped the Lobos home winning streak inside The Pit.
On Thursday night, UNM began a new streak.
Led by KJ Jenkins and his 21 points off the bench, the Lobos defeated the Denver Pioneers by a final score of 87-67.
New Mexico overcame quiet nights from House and Mashburn Jr., who scored nine and 10 points respectively, to grab the much needed win.
“It was good to bounce back from such a dramatic loss,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said after the contest. “I was concerned how we would be mentally, but we got a good win.”
New Mexico limited their mistakes against a stingy Denver defense that had forced 10 or more turnovers in eight of their first 10 games this season. The Lobos ended with just six turnovers in the contest.
With the Lobos up by double digits already, Jenkins scored his 21 points all in the second half to keep the Pioneers at bay.
Jay Allen-Tovar ended with nine points and 10 rebounds off the bench as well for UNM.
The Lobos defense smothered Denver’s leading scorer KJ Hunt and held him to just 10 points. Well under his average of 16.2 a game entering the night.
With the win the Lobos are now 6-4 on the season and will have a couple of nights off before welcoming their rival UTEP Miners into The Pit on Sunday afternoon.
That game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Mountain Time and will be streamed on Stadium. It can also be heard on the Lobo Sports Radio Network.