13-0! No. 22 UNM Lobos rout Colorado State in packed Pit in Mountain West opener - Albuquerque Journal

13-0! No. 22 UNM Lobos rout Colorado State in packed Pit in Mountain West opener

Fans react during the second half of Wednesday’s game in the Pit between the UNM Lobos and Colorado State Rams. (Chancey Bush/ Albuquerque Journal)

In a game years in the making — maybe seven, maybe eight, maybe 55 depending on which bench mark you want to compare it to — the 22nd-ranked UNM Lobos and their fans delivered.

And then some.

With an announced crowd of 15,215 blowing the roof off the Pit from opening tip to final buzzer, the Lobos connected a season-high 15 3-pointers and Jaelen House had 26 points, five assists and three steals to blow out visiting Colorado State 88-69 in the Mountain West opener for both teams.

Wednesday marked the first time the Pit had an announced crowd of more than 15,000 fans in it in seven years (since December 2015); the first time the Lobos played as a ranked team in more than eight years (March 2014); and with the win gave the team the first 13-0 start in 55 years, making this the second best start in program history behind the 17-0 start by the 1967-68 Lobo team.

And it started with that crowd — one that seemed to be dying for a night like Wednesday for years.

“Just an amazing crowd,” said UNM coach Richard Pitino. “I can’t say it enough, to get 15,000 during the holidays, on a weeknight, just amazing. We’ve got one of the best fan bases in all college basketball.”

The fans weren’t about to let all their energy go for naught after CSU (8-6, 0-1 Mountain West) jumped out to a 5-0 lead.

The Pit grew louder and the Lobos responded with a 17-0 run over a 3 and a half minute span for a 17-5 lead that seemed to leave the shell-shocked Rams staggered.

The run included four 3-pointers among the first five baskets for the Lobos, a sign of things to come for a program that ranked coming into the game in the bottom 10 in the country in the number of 3-point shots it had taken.

But they also knew the Rams, who were down three rotational players, were going to pack the paint to try to shut down Morris Udeze and Josiah Allick inside, opening the door on the perimeter.

“Our guys did a great job of locking in on the offensive scouting report,” said Pitino. “That’s why we took so many 3s because they were gonna pack the paint, and we were able to knock down a bunch of the first half. Jaelen was phenomenal on (CSU guard Isaiah) Stevens. Just unbelievably disruptive.”

House was phenomenal throughout, finishing 10-of-14 shooting from the field (including 5-of-6 on 3-pointers) and a defensive gem against Stevens — a preseason Mountain West All-Conference selection whom Pitino had been hyping up to House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. all week.

“This was an important game for me,” House said “You know a lot of people have been saying Stevens is better than me, and I just wanted to go out there and show them he’s not better than me.”

Asked specifically if Pitino’s remarks were part of that, House answered as quickly as he plays on the court.

“Yeah, I don’t like that,” he said. “… I’m not taking nothing away from him. But you know, this was personal.”

Stevens ended with 10 points, seven assists and five turnovers on 4-of-15 shooting.

Mashburn, who added he also thought it was personal, added 19 points and four more of UNM’s season-best 15 3-pointers on 25 attempts (60.0%).

“Here’s one thing I can promise you,” Colorado State head coach Niko Medved said after the game. “We won’t be the last team to lose at the Pit this year. I can’t promise you that but I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that we won’t be the last team that loses in here. So, at the end of the day we have to keep perspective.”

Udeze ended with 10 points and 13 rebounds while KJ Jenkins addd 11 points and three 3s off the bench for the Lobos. UNM had 17 assists, nine steals and out-rebounded CSU 35-28 while outscoring them on fastbreak points 28-6.

BOX SCORE: No. 22 New Mexico 88, Colorado St. 69

SATURDAY: No. 22 New Mexico at Wyoming, 2 p.m., FS1, 770 AM/96.3 FM

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Take a look at the photo slideshow from Wednesday’s game.

Home » Sports » 13-0! No. 22 UNM Lobos rout Colorado State in packed Pit in Mountain West opener

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