LOGAN, Utah — The Logan lull got the best of the UNM Lobos for the second consecutive season.
The Utah State Aggies jumped out to a 19-point halftime lead against a slow-starting Lobos team and held off a modest second half UNM run for a 84-73 win in front of a lively announced Dee Glen Smith Spectrum crowd of 8,851.
The win — one season after Utah State jumped out to a 17-point halftime lead and went on to beat the Lobos by 25 in Logan —- moves the Aggies (17-5, 7-3 Mountain West) into a third place tie in the crowded Mountain West standings. It’s the sixth-consecutive time Utah State has beaten UNM in Logan.
The Lobos, meanwhile, drop to 19-4 overall and 6-4 in the Mountain West — alone in fifth place in the standings with a rare “bye” slot in the schedule this weekend before hosting Nevada on Tuesday night in the Pit.
“We made our bed, now you gotta lay in it kind of thing,” said Lobos senior forward Josiah Allick of the huge first half deficit. “We just completely wasted that first 20 minutes of the game. Just bad rotations, just one- or two-pass possessions … I sound like a broken record now, especially after the Nevada game, but our defense just did not show up in the first half.”
All five Lobos starters scored in double figures, led by 17 from the league’s leading scorer Jamal Mashburn Jr., who got there on 7-of-19 shooting. Morris Udeze had his league-leading ninth double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but also had four turnovers.
UNM had just seven assists on its 29 made field goals in a game during which the ball movement and offense in general looked stalled most of the night.
Sean Bairstow, the younger brother of former Lobos great Cameron Bairstow, did to the Lobos what big brother did to so many Mountain West teams a decade ago. The younger Bairstow scored 20 points on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting, to go along with 5 rebounds.
USU guard Steven Ashworth added 19 points and was a perfect 9-of-9 at the free throw line.
Utah State entered the game leading the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (42.1%), and while it appeared that would be the poison that did in the Lobos early on, the Aggies cooled from deep, finishing just 7-of-20 (35%) from beyond the arc.
For the Lobos, that makes seven consecutive games holding an opponent under their season average on 3-point shooting, but on this night the Aggies just did their damage inside and at the free-throw line instead.
USU scored 32 points in the paint and was 27-of-31 at the line. UNM was just 11-of-16 at the free-throw line — a part of the Lobos’ game that has been so vital over the most of the season.
The Aggies came at the Lobos in flurries. In the first half, they had scoring runs of 9-0, 10-0, 7-0 and another 10-0 — none of the four spanning more than 2½ minutes in game time.
They had no such runs in the second half, but the Lobos improved effort and execution after the break, cutting the deficit at one point to 8. But that was far too little, too late after that first-half flop. Wednesday’s 46-27 Utah State lead at the break was the largest halftime deficit the Lobos faced this season, and it was just the fourth time this season UNM trailed in any game by double digits. The Lobos won the previous three games when that happened.
NOTES: The Lobos’ 27 points scored in the first half matched their season low for a half. The only other time they were held under 30 points in a half was when they also scored 27 points in the first half on Nov. 30 at Saint Mary’s. The clear difference, of course, was UNM led at the half in that game, 27-23, and trailed on Wednesday night by 19. …
The Lobos committed two lane violations on Dan Akin free throw misses, both of which turned misses into made free throws on the second opportunity.
UP NEXT: Nevada at New Mexico, 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, FS1, 770 AM/96.3 FM
BOX SCORE: Utah State 84, New Mexico 73