Men's Basketball: When UNM duo is on, Lobos tough to beat - Albuquerque Journal

Men’s Basketball: When UNM duo is on, Lobos tough to beat

UNM’s Jaelen House, center, scored 18 of his 27 points in the final 20 minutes against UNLV on Saturday. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Jamal Mashburn got ‘em early.

Jaelen House finished ‘em off.

When the UNM Lobos’ 1-2 punch of Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House are on their game, coaches around the league know their teams will have their work cut out for them.

“Obviously they’re 1 and 2 on the scouting report, or 1 and 1-A, however you want to do it,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said Saturday night, after his team fell to the Lobos 76-67 in the Pit after having beaten the Lobos by 29 points earlier this season.

Mashburn scored UNM’s first 10 points on Saturday night and 12 of his 21 in the first half.

And when he was being concentrated on in the second half, the relentless House put the pressure on the Rebels in scoring 18 of his 27 in the final 20 minutes.

Though UNLV made a comeback in the second half, it was clear the Runnin’ Rebel players weren’t quite as ready for the Mashburn/House duo as their coaches had hoped, especially after the Lobos’ two leading scorers combined for just 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting in the Jan. 11 blowout in the Thomas & Mack Center.

“We took those guys lightly,” UNLV guard Justin Webster admitted after the game, as quoted in the Las Vegas Sun. “We thought it was going to be a cakewalk coming out here.”

For Mashburn and House, Saturday marked the fourth time this season they both scored 20 or more in the same game. The Lobos are just 2-2 in those four games, but the two losses were a road loss in the second game of the season at Colorado, when UNM was within one possession in the final minutes, and the highly-competitive Dec. 6 overtime loss to WAC Champion NMSU Aggies.

Lobos coach Richard Pitino has noted over the past couple of weeks that for much of the season, the two were good but not often at the same time.

When they are, the Lobos (13-18, 5-12 Mountain West) know they can be competitive with anyone in this week’s Mountain West Tournament, where they are the No. 9 seed and open tournament play at noon on Wednesday against No. 8 Nevada.

Mashburn has scored 567 points in 31 games this season (18.3 per game) and House is at 506 in 30 games (16.9 per game).

They are just the 10th pair of Lobos ever to score more than 500 points in the same season and the first since Elijah Brown and Tim Williams did so in the 2015-16 season.

The list includes:

• 2021-22: Mashburn 567, House 506 (at least one more game)

• 2015-16: Brown 694, Williams 539

• 2013-14: Cameron Bairstow 694, Kendall Williams 544

• 1997-98: Kenny Thomas 539, Clayton Shields 534

• 1996-97: Charles Smith 577, Clayton Shields 512

• 1993-94: Greg Brown 599, Marlow White 527

• 1988-89: Charlie Thomas 545, Rob Robbins 522

• 1987-88: Charlie Thomas 613, Hunter Greene 606

• 1986-87: Hunter Greene 740, Kelvin Scarborough 660

• 1983-84: Tim Garrett 540, Phil Smith 503

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: San Diego State’s Matt Bradley was named the league’s player of the week on Sunday and Air Force’s Lucas Moerman the MW Freshman of the Week.

The Lobos were the only Mountain West team not to claim a player of the week (overall or freshman) this season. They also had none last season. The last MWC Player of the Week honor for a Lobo was Dec. 16, 2019, for Carlton Bragg.

BETTER THAN THEY STARTED: UNM was 0-7 to start league play and 5-5 in their past 10.

Pitino said Saturday night’s FS1 analyst Eddie House, who also happens to be the father of the Lobos starting point guard Jaelen House, was at a Saturday morning practice and commented that the team is still in remarkably high spirits considering their record and place in the standings.

“What I like about it is there’s teams right now who aren’t playing with any spirit, you know?” Pitino said late Saturday. “Eddie House came to our shoot-around and he made a good point. He said, ‘You still look like you want to be here.'”

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