The New Mexico Lobos got their first Mountain West Conference win in the bag on Saturday night, beating Wyoming 77-60 at The Pit, bouncing back from their loss to Colorado State on Tuesday.
Fueled by an opportunistic defense, the Lobos racked up 16 steals and forced 23 Cowboys turnovers in the victory. Those 23 turnovers led to 28 New Mexico points as the Lobos moved to 13-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Donovan Dent led the way again for UNM, this time with 21 points. Jaelen House and his stingy defensive play also played a huge role. House ended with 10 points and had five steals. House now averages three steals per game in his 10 contests that he has seen action in.
“The crowd was electric. Obviously having Shaq and Michael Cooper here was awesome to see, but more than anything our guys are fueled by the energy of our fans,” said UNM coach Richard Pitino following the game.
The Lobos did race out to a 39-22 halftime lead but had that cut to seven in the second half as the Cowboys relied on quick cuts to the basket for layups and three-point shooting that was cold in the first half.
After the Lobo lead was cut to 47-40 with 14 minutes to play, Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored back-to-back buckets, and Dent found JT Toppin for a dunk that pushed the lead back to 13 and seemingly out of reach for the Cowboys.
The Lobos will play on the road for the second straight Tuesday night, this time they will pay UNLV a visit.
The Runnin’ Rebels are 8-7 overall on the season and 0-1 in conference play following a 72-61 defeat at the hands of San Diego State.
The Rebels do boast a win over Creighton on the season, the same Creighton team that is 11-4 on the season and had been as high as number eight this season.
The Rebs like to spread the offense around, having six players averaging more than nine points a game on the year. They are led by Luis Rodriguez with 12.5 points per game. Dedan Thomas Jr. averages 12.2 points per game, but it is his 6.2 assists per game that will draw the defensive matchup of Jaelen House no doubt.
UNLV does love to shoot the three-pointers as well, having tried 66 in their last two games alone. The Lobos perimeter defense will be key in this one.
Tip off between the Lobos and Runnin’ Rebels will be at 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Tuesday and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, and on the UNM Sports Radio Network.