The Lobos fell at home on Saturday night by a final of 80-77 to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
Freshman Dedan Thomas Jr. carried the Rebs with 25 points and Rob Whaley Jr. added 16 points in the win.
For the Lobos, Donovan Dent and Jaelen House each scored 20 points apiece, but UNM’s shooting would sink them.
Shooting just 35 percent from the field, the Lobos would have spurts of good offense, and poor offense that eventually led to their loss. UNLV raced out to a 16-4 lead early before the Lobos would slowly close. Eventually UNM took a 40-39 halftime lead.
In the second half, more cold shooting allowed UNLV to take a 54-45 lead. The Lobos though would answer with a 12-0 run to take a 57-54 lead.
The teams would go back and forth until it was 61-61 with 7:21 to play. Then, more cold shooting from the Lobos allowed UNLV to pull away to 68-63. The Lobos weren’t done though, tying the contest at 72-72 with 1:30 left before UNLV took control and outlasted UNM.
“It is obviously disappointing to drop two in a row at home, to not take advantage of an amazing crowd,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said. “You have to give UNLV a lot of credit, they went out and got it. They are a talented team, well-coached, played hard and their size and length bothered us. They made free throws when they needed to at the end. We just kept coming back, tying the game, or taking a one-point lead, but we just couldn’t build a lead to get over the hump.”
With the loss the Lobos fell out of first place in the MWC at 7-4. Overall, UNM is 19-5 with seven regular-season games remaining.
The Lobos don’t have a lot of time to sulk on their second straight home loss as they will travel to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack on Tuesday night in Reno.
The Pack are just a half game back of the Lobos and three others for second place in conference. Nevada is on a three-game winning streak, beating Utah State, San Diego State, and San Jose State along the way. Their last loss? An 89-55 defeat at the hands of UNM in The Pit.
Tipoff for the Pack and Lobos will be at 9:00 p.m. Mountain Time and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.