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New Mexico Finds Footing in 74-58 Win Over San Jose State

New Mexico's (15-10,8-4) stingy defense coupled with a second-half surge allowed them to pull away from San Jose State (8-17,3-10).

The Lobos' pink uniforms proved lucky last night with a victory of San Jose State.
The Lobos' pink uniforms proved lucky last night with a victory of San Jose State.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New Mexico came out with a quick pace that earned them a couple of trips to the foul line, but it was San Jose State that jumped out to a 12-7 lead with 14:30 to go in the first half behind two threes from Frank Rogers. However, Dane Kuiper came in and knocked down a corner three that gave UNM a 15-14 lead to cap an 8-2 run. However, neither team seemed able to pull away from the other, with a 23-23 tie at 6:30 in the first half.

Coming out of a timeout, there was a shift. San Jose State began a drought of six minutes without a field goal.  Meanwhile, another Kuiper corner three extended a UNM lead to 32-24 with 2:24 left and capped another 9-0 run that forced a SJSU timeout.  But the Lobos did not let up, with a vicious dunk off of a backdoor cut by Tim Williams. The Lobos went into the break with a 35-27 advantage, but momentum was clearly on their side.

The first half stats showed a close game with the Spartans leading the Lobos on the boards 19-17, but their poor shooting (37% to UNM's 44%) is what put them in such a deficit.

The first five minutes of the second half saw the Spartans hanging around and getting some buckets off of their ability to break New Mexico's press. But Frank Rogers used a beautiful jump hook over his right shoulder to cut the Lobos lead to six with 13:30 to go in the second half. Suddenly the Pit became very quiet. Jalen James knocked down two straight threes within three minutes to cut the lead to five. However, the Lobos responded with two threes of their own, one by Tim Jacobs and the other by Elijah Brown to stretch the lead to 55-42. San José State would not be able to reduce the lead to single digits again.

The stat of the game here was shooting percentage. San Jose could only muster 30% against New Mexico's stifling defense and only 8/30 from deep. New Mexico countered with 41.5%. Another huge difference, perhaps indicative of the disparity in field goal percentage, was points in the paint: the Lobos had a 30-14 edge.

Frank Rogers led the Spartans with 12 points, but he was the lone scorer in double digits. Elijah Brown paced the Lobos with 21 points with 5/15 shooting. Tim Williams chipped in an efficient 16 points and 9 boards.

A couple of random comments: this game got pretty chippy, including a hard foul on Tim Williams in the second half on a fast break. Also, the Lobos wore their pink uniforms which they auction off after the game to raise funds for UNM's Comprehensive Cancer Center. This noble effort raised over $3000 dollars last night.

The Lobos will face Boise State at the Pit on Wednesday at 8 pm MST on the CBS Sports Network. The Spartans will be back at home to face Nevada on Wednesday.