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New Mexico vs. Nevada final score: Lobos start league play with win

The Lobos (8-6) open conference play with an 88-76 win over Nevada. They snap a four-game losing streak in the process.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

There's no place like home, especially when you need to snap a forgettable four-game losing streak. Tonight the Pit was full of rowdy fans who played a pivotal sixth man role by supporting their New Mexico Lobos. The team did not disappoint; the Lobos led nearly the whole way and finished the game with an 88-76 victory over their conference foes.

Elijah Brown's 24 points helped UNM secure the win. As usual, the guard was automatic from the free throw line, going 15-15. Power forward Tim Williams, plagued by foul trouble throughout the game, still managed to add 20 points in the Lobos 88-76 win.

Speaking of offensive input, center Obij Aget put in a career-high 14 points and 11 rebounds. He demonstrated a velvety-soft touch on the offensive end to go with some thunderous dunks. Xavier Adams provided a spark off the bench with 14 points of his own, including a number of second-half baskets down low that helped to seal the win. I don't want to say that the Lobos read my preview clamoring for them to include other players in the offense, but clearly the proof is in the pudding.

The Lobos worked the ball inside and got solid contributions from multiple players. Tonight was a balanced attack and it was good to see the Lobos able to win despite Williams being limited to 25 minutes and Cullen Neal having an off-night shooting the ball. He struggled with 3-11 shooting for 11 points to go with six assists.

The key to this game was the referees. A total of 53 fouls were called which resulted in a total of 66 free throws. The Lobos shot more of them (36 to 30) and made seven more. More importantly, the amount of calls really disrupted the game and both teams struggled to find any sort of flow.

To that end, there were a lot of turnovers in this game with New Mexico having 20 (Neal and Brown accounted for 10) and Nevada 19. This led to some interesting fast breaks that included both highlight dunks by the Lobos (particularly Williams and Brown) and head-scratching passes and pull-up threes.

Marqueze Coleman was the star for the Wolf Pack with 26 points. D.J. Fenner chipped in 16. Though they played UNM evenly in the second half, Nevada dug themselves a big hole in the first, down 21-10 at one point. They put UNM in the bonus with about ten minutes left in the first half and the Lobos sustained their lead with solid free throw shooting. Though Nevada made a couple of runs, they seemed to hover around a nine-point deficit for the remainder of the game.

I mentioned that the fans were particularly rowdy tonight and this was in part due to the poor officiating. One boisterous fan took every chance to remind a referee that he was balding, and at one point called him a "hypocrite." He later told Marqueze Coleman that he was "alone." It's these types of soul-piercing comments that put Lobos' fans in elite company. They were clearly behind the team tonight and made the Pit a hostile place to play.

New Mexico's next contest is against Fresno State on Saturday at 7:30 pm MT on the CBS Sports Network. Nevada takes on Wyoming at 2 p.m. MT on Saturday.