New Mexico Handles Air Force, 84-78
Lobos continue to win at home, move to 12-0 in The Pit.
New Mexico closed out a persistent Air Force squad.
Vance Jackson (29 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists) led the game in scoring and rebounding and New Mexico (14-3, 3-1 MW) bounced back from a stinging loss against San Jose State to put away Fresno State (5-11, 1-4 MW), 78-64.
Stud freshman forward Orlando Robinson (16 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 block) led the way for the Bulldogs.
The game was a close one throughout the first half at Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit in Albuquerque, with New Mexico heading into the locker room at halftime with a 41-37 edge over a Bulldogs team that was forced to withdraw New Williams (10 points, 1 assist)from the game for most of the first half after he picked up his second foul with 16:51 remaining in the half.
But Fresno State was never able to get as close as its four-point striking distance in the second half, eventually falling behind by as many as 18 points with just 2:02 left on the clock.
New Mexico benefited greatly from the point guard play of JaQuan Lyle (14 points, 2 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, 1 block), who had previously been playing shooting guard, and the return of Carlton Bragg (2 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks), who drew a number of fouls from the opposition and made scoring in the paint difficult for the Bulldogs, which shot poorly from three on the night.
New Mexico, however, had one of their better nights shooting beyond the arc, going 9-22 for the contest, six of which came from Jackson, who went 6-7 in the game.
Plenty of threes were open for both teams, thanks to a clean game with relatively few turnovers and good ball movement. New Mexico’s 19 assists (10 of which came from Lyle and 6 of which came from Zane Martin) were instrumental in keeping things flowing offensively.
The win keeps New Mexico among the top four in the league, just behind undefeated UNLV, Nevada and #7 San Diego State. The loss finds the young Fresno State squad in the company of Colorado State and San Jose State with just one win apiece in the conference.
The Jackson Five:
For five straight games, Vance Jackson has recorded double figures. Fans were expecting much more out of the junior wing/forward after he averaged 25.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in the 2019 Mountain West Tournament, en route to being voted as an all-tournament team player. The shots are finally falling for Jackson. Self-labeled “old man” on the team, JaQuan Lyle, said about his teammate, “It’s a difference when you’re making shots and when you’re not. Credit to him for. . .getting in the gym and staying with it, keeping the confidence in himself and now the shots are falling. We all knew that eventually that they would and now they are.”
Jackson has averaged 18.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist in the last five games.
New Mexico stays in Albuquerque to take on an Air Force team which pummeled preseason conference favorite Utah State by 19 in Clune Arena.
Fresno State will try its luck against the rolling San Diego State Aztecs, which are perfect not only at home, but on the season.