DALLAS — The Lobos found their D in Dallas.
UNM scored 20 points off 15 SMU turnovers — 14 off 11 in the first half alone — and held the Mustangs to under 36% shooting in their home gym for a blowout 84-63 road win in front of an announced Moody Coliseum crowd of 3,662, which included a few hundred Lobo fans.
“That was a complete defensive performance. Probably the best since I’ve been here, honestly,” said second-year Lobos coach Richard Pitino. “I thought our guys were really did a great job of loading up in the gaps because they’re really, really good at dribble penetrating.”
The Lobos improved to 3-0 heading into Saturday’s rivalry game against New Mexico State in the Pit.
Offensively, four Lobos scored between 15 and 18 points and the team shot 52.5% from the floor. The starting backcourt of Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. combined for 34 points, five assists and four steals while the starting frontcourt of Josiah Allick and Morris Udeze combined for 33 points and 17 rebounds.
Throw in huge minutes from backup guards Donovan Dent (1 point, 7 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks in 20 minutes) and K.J. Jenkins (8 points, 4 assists, 3 steals in 19 minutes) and SMU never could figure out how to slow the fast-paced attack the Lobo guards dictated.
UNM opened up a 45-32 halftime lead, and there would be no regrouping in the SMU locker room at the break.
It seemed the Mustangs might have their chance at the 17:49 mark of the second half. That’s when lightning-quick Lobo point guard Jaelen House, who has dictated the speed of each of the Lobos’ first three games — and the Lobos have scored 80 or more in each of those games — picked up his third foul and went to the bench.
When he checked out, the Lobos led by 16 points (50-34).
Over the next 6 minutes, 32 seconds without House, all the Lobos did was extend the lead to 17 points (61-44) by the time he checked back in at the 11:17 mark. UNM rattled off a 10-2 run after House’s return and held its largest lead of the game at 25 points (71-46) with 8:58 remaining.
“(Dent) has great potential. He’s an elite passer,” Pitino said. “… I thought House was terrific. You know, we’ve got a good backcourt. Even Mash was rock solid the whole time. K.J. coming off the bench, as well — got some rebounds, made some shots. That’s what a good team’s all about.”
The game plan in the first half — other than get out and run with House and the guards at every opportunity — was clearly feed the post with Udeze and Allick. The pair outscored SMU’s starting frontcourt 21-4 in the first half and 33-11 in the game.
“We talked a lot about last year that we weren’t a complete team,” Pitino said. “… We just looked way more ready for the moment all around. And it’s great that when the game slows down, we can throw it down to those guys every now and then.”
UNM shot 52.5% in the game to SMU’s 35.9%, edged the Mustangs in rebounds (38-37), steals (9-4) and blocked shots (6-1).
FAMILIAR FACES: Sitting courtside on Tuesday night were former Lobo greats Charles Smith and Clayton Shields. Smith (22) and Shields (21) led the Lobos to a 75-72 win the only other time the Lobos played SMU in Dallas in the 1996-97 season.
BOX SCORE: New Mexico 84, SMU 63
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK: For more news, notes, quotes, stats, videos and analysis of Tuesday’s Lobo basketball win, read Geoff Grammer’s Emptying the Notebook column.