Playing its first game as a ranked team since March 2014, No. 22 New Mexico looked the part Wednesday night, getting five 3-pointers and a game-high 26 points from Jaelen House in an 88-69 whipping of Colorado State in Albuquerque, N.M.
Jamal Mashburn, Jr. added 19 points for the Lobos (13-0, 1-0 Mountain West) and KJ Jenkins hit for 11 in the conference opener for both teams. Morris Udeze chipped in a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double as New Mexico hit 15 of 25 3-pointers and earned a 28-6 advantage in fast-break points.
John Tonje and Patrick Cartier each scored 16 points for the Rams (8-6, 0-1) and Isaiah Rivera added 12. But leading scorer Isaiah Stevens made just 4 of 15 shots and finished with just 10 points, eight under his average, while committing five of his team’s 14 turnovers that the Lobos cashed in for 19 points.
New Mexico earned most of its nonconference wins against a light schedule, although it did play impressively when facing quality opposition. The Lobos won at Saint Mary’s, beat San Francisco on a neutral floor and stopped Iona at home in a much-ballyhooed matchup of father and son on the sideline as New Mexico coach Richard Pitino sent his father, Rick, home with a loss.
It didn’t take long to see that Colorado State would be in trouble in this one. New Mexico entered the game shooting just 33 percent from 3-point land but drilled 10 of its first 14 en route to a 44-22 lead less than 16 minutes into the game.
House led the onslaught by canning all four of his 3-pointers in the half on his way to a 16-point half. The Lobos struck a nice balance of perimeter shots and rim attacks, making 11 first-half 3-point attempts and earning an 11-1 advantage in free-throw attempts as they established a 49-24 cushion at the break.
A 12-3 burst enabled the Rams to close within 52-36 early in the second half but they never truly threatened New Mexico after that.
–Field Level Media