New Mexico Upsets No. 16 Utah State By Double Digits

New Mexico Upsets No. 16 Utah State By Double Digits

Huge home Lobo win

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Mountain West is tough

New Mexico’s men’s basketball team secured its second consecutive victory against a ranked opponent by defeating No. 16 Utah State with a score of 99-86 at The Pit in Albuquerque. 

In a standout performance, Nelly Joseph notched a season-high 26 points. Donovan Dent contributed 15 points and a career-high 14 assists, propelling New Mexico to a convincing 99-86 victory over No. 16 Utah State on Tuesday night.

With a well-distributed scoring effort, six Lobos players reached double figures, including Jaelen House, who added 14 points. 

The win ended New Mexico’s seven-game losing streak against the Aggies.

This victory followed New Mexico’s previous success against then-No. 19 San Diego State on Saturday, showcasing the team’s impressive back-to-back wins against ranked opponents.

The Lobos now boast a 15-3 overall record and a 3-2 standing in Mountain West play, while the Aggies’ overall record falls to 16-2 with a 4-1 mark in Mountain West play. 

Notably, Utah State experienced the end of their 15-game winning streak and a seven-game streak against the Lobos.

This marks the Lobos’ second consecutive “Quad 1” victory, a metric determined by an opponent’s NET ranking improving its resume for post-season action. 

The NET ranking is a crucial factor considered by the NCAA Selection Committee when determining team invitations to the NCAA Tournament in March.

Nelly Junior Joseph delivered a standout performance with a season-high 26 points, shooting 11-of-12 and contributing eight rebounds and five blocks. 

In consecutive matchups, the Pit welcomed AP Top 25 teams boasting star big men and flawless conference records. The Lobos emerged victorious for the second straight game in an impressive feat.

Lobo’s formidable big man, Nelly Junior Joseph, showcased dominance on Tuesday, tallying a season-high 26 points with an impressive 11-of-12 shooting, a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line, along with eight rebounds, five blocked shots, and three steals. 

The UNM Lobos triumphed convincingly against No. 16 Utah State with a final score of 99-86, captivating an enthusiastic late-night crowd of 13,106.

Expressing his satisfaction, UNM Lobos coach Richard Pitino hailed the win as significant for the program, particularly achieving back-to-back victories against ranked teams. The Lobos’ offensive prowess was evident, with a remarkable 57% shooting accuracy, 21 assists, and a mere seven turnovers.

Pitino expressed his gratitude to the passionate fans, emphasizing the challenge of playing in a late-night game at 8:45 p.m. 

The impressive turnout of over 13,000 spectators added to the team’s momentum, making the Pit a formidable venue when the Lobos play well together. 

The Lobo fans, without question, are some of the nation’s most loyal fans showing up midweek on the late game, and it was louder than…. For sure! 

This writer’s Apple watch was measuring and warning of the sound levels at 95 decibels, and it was so loud you could not hear yourself speak. 

Donovan Dent contributed 15 points and a career-high 14 assists for his third double-double of the season. 

Dent’s remarkable 14 assists stand as the highest for a Lobo since Darrell McGee achieved 16 against BYU on January 5, 1989.

The Lobos showcased balanced scoring, with Jaelen House, JT Toppin, Mustapha Amzil, and Jamal Mashburn, Jr. each reaching double figures.

The game featured an impressive defensive display by the Lobos, who recorded 12 steals and 10 blocks. 

This marked the first occurrence of double-figure blocks and steals in a single game for UNM since the 2011-12 season.

The match saw a competitive first half, with the Lobos initially taking the lead and finishing the half with a 55-39 advantage.

 In the second half, they extended their lead to 20 points but faced challenges from Utah State, who managed to cut the margin. However, the Lobos maintained control and secured a 99-86 victory.

Noteworthy achievements included Dent’s exceptional 14 assists, the most by a Lobo in a game since 1989, and Joseph’s remarkable shooting performance.

 The Lobos also achieved consecutive wins against ranked opponents for the first time since 2011-12.

Head coach Richard Pitino expressed pride in the team’s performance, acknowledging the significance of back-to-back wins against ranked teams.

The Lobos will now embark on a two-game road trip, starting with a matchup against Air Force on Saturday in Colorado Springs. 

The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network at 2 p.m. MT

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire