The New Mexico Lobos extended their winning streak to five games with two wins last week.
In game one, at San Jose State on Wednesday night, the Lobos got off to a quick start thanks to a mix between Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn Jr., Donovan Dent and JT Toppin, taking a 10-3 lead in the first 2:30 of the game.
The Spartans would close to 17-16 with 11:15 to play before New Mexico would pull away again, taking a 43-32 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the help from everywhere continued as the Lobos would steadily pull away to a 95-75 victory.
In all, each of UNM’s starters scored in double-figures with House scoring 18 points. Dent and Mashburn each had 17 points, with JT Toppin going for 14 points and 10 rebounds. Nelly Junior Joseph had 10 points in the win as well.
In game two, on Sunday night in Albuquerque, former UNM coaches Steve Alford and Craig Neal brought their Nevada Wolf Pack to town for a visit.
Having lost the previous nine games to Nevada, Lobo fans were clamoring for a win against Nevada. And House and company would deliver again.
Led by House’s 21 points, the Lobos would destroy Nevada from beginning to end, coming away with an 89-55 victory.
Junior Joseph would score 12 points and have 10 rebounds in the win. Mashburn had 14 points. Mustapha Amzil had 11 points off the bench in the win.
“Jaelen House was phenomenal,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said. “Not on the shot making, but the steals. Lucas is one of the best offensive players in our league and House did a great job on him.”
New Mexico’s defense once again paid dividends in these two games. UNM forced 15 turnovers against Nevada and 18 turnovers against San Jose State. In each, the turnovers led to a big differential in the points off turnover category, outscoring Nevada 24-7, and the Spartans 25-4. This will be the driving force moving forward.
The offensive help appears now to be coming from everywhere now that the team is healthy. In each of the two contests the Lobos had five players scoring in double-figures. That is huge because there isn’t one player that the opposition can home in on with contributions coming from everywhere. That will come in huge when the Lobos play San Diego State, Nevada, and Utah State all on the road in the second half of the conference season.
With the wins, the Lobos moved up in this week’s Coaches and AP polls. UNM is now 19th in the AP poll while moving up to 20th in the Coaches poll.
The Lobos are now 18-3 overall and 6-2 in the Mountain West after this past week. This upcoming week, UNM has just one contest, a home game against Boise State.
The Broncos sit just a half game behind the Lobos in the standings, and just one game out of first place at 5-2.
Boise State is coming off a 90-84 home loss to Utah State. In that one, Utah State scored on a buzzer beater to tie it and send it to overtime before pulling away in the extra session.
Boise State and UNM split the season series last year, with the Lobos winning in Albuquerque in overtime.
Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Wednesday night and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.