Game Recap: New Mexico 86, San Jose State 70
New Mexico secures first conference win of the Pitino era against SJSU.
Jaelen House flirts with a triple-double performance to lead Lobos to first conference win.
ALBUQUERQUE–The New Mexico Lobos welcomed San Jose State to “the Pit” on Friday night for what could only be dubbed “the Battle for Last Place”. With the end goal being not leaving University Arena in last place of the Mountain West Conference of course.
According to San Jose State head coach Tim Miles, the dagger in the chest for the Spartans may have come quick and early. As the Lobos jumped out to a 20-8 lead in the first seven minutes of this contest. The Spartans kept fans anxious most of the game but were kept to a double-digit deficit throughout.
Down 43-32 heading into the locker room the visiting Spartans looked improved as they returned to the court for another twenty minutes of action. Keeping things interesting and Lobo fans on the edge of their seats. Shooting 55.6% from the field in the second half compared to 40.6% before.
But, San Jose State struggled to find any shooting touch from beyond the arc in this one. Ending the night with a very regrettable conversion of just 22.7% on 6-27 three-point attempts. Omari Moore was one of four Spartans to log double-digits in their loss, with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. While freshman spark plug Myron Amey Jr. chipped in 12 points in just 15 minutes of action off of the bench.
New Mexico has gotten better as the season progresses. But after lack luster and often sloppy performances in conference play thus far. The Lobos looked like a well oiled machine against the Spartans. Shooting 52.2% from the floor, 45.5% from deep and a composed 85.7% from the free throw line. Not to mention a season-high 21 assists to just 10 turnovers for the home team.
Up 76-60 with 5:38 left to go in the game the Spartans began to creep back steadily but could never close the gap. With the largest Lobo lead of the game coming in the final two minutes with the home team up 18 points (86-68). After a Jaelen House three pointer appeared to further keep the game in the Lobos’ hands. The final buzzer sounded with a final score of 86-70 and Richard Pitino’s first Mountain West win in Albuquerque finally secured.
This win was much needed for New Mexico and may be attributed to a couple of players not named Jamal Mashburn Jr., who himself scored 23 points to lead all scorers.
In maybe the Lobos’ best performance in over a month. Five players reached double-digit scoring, four of them taking advantage of a Jaelen House dime fest inside the Pit in Friday’s win. But I’d argue junior college transfer Jay Allen-Tovar needs some love too.
The junior college transfer has had some inconsistent flashes all season but has been on fire for the Lobos of late. Posting 18 points, 4 rebounds & 2 blocks while going 8-12 from the floor and 2-2 from three-point range.
As very well known at this point, the Lobos scoring ability is very guard reliant. After their hefty preseason frontcourt depth dwindled by Christmas. Forcing freshmen Birima Seck and Sebastian Forsling into bigger roles than maybe expected this late in the season. Some frontcourt contribution appeared very necessary to improve as a team. With Friday’s performance Allen-Tovar is averaging 14.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 32.8 MPG over his last four games, all four as a starter.
— Lobo Basketball (@UNMLoboMBB) January 29, 2022
Now Jaelen House’s feet are never still. He is constantly moving and appears at his fastest when the ball is in his hands. And that hustle shows on the box score from their 16 point victory over the visiting Spartans.
Ending the night with a near triple-double with 18 points, 13 assists (just 3 turnovers) and 7 rebounds. House looked not only like a guy who was creating his own shot last night but a floor general capable of creating opportunities for others as well. Which may just be the next step needed for his game to evolve in Albuquerque.
San Jose State: Shonn Robinson
The Ole Miss transfer is making his impact for first year head coach Tim Miles. Showing a consistent two-way presence for the Spartans in Friday night’s loss. Taking advantage of one-on-one opportunities that gave him a chance to shop off his bounce and flush down dunks around the rim.
— San Jose State Men’s Basketball (@SanJoseStateMBB) January 29, 2022
The 6-11 big man had a team-high 17 points, 7 rebounds and three blocked and going 7-10 from the field. Coming off of the bench and logging just 25 minutes on the court.
Mountain West Conference Standings
- Boise State 17-4 (8-0)
- Wyoming 16-3 (5-1)
- Colorado State 16-2 (6-2)
- San Diego State 11-5 (3-2)
- Fresno State 14-6 (4-3)
- UNLV 12-9 (4-4)
- Nevada 9-8 (3-3)
- Air Force 10-9 (3-5)
- Utah State 11-9 (2-5)
- New Mexico 8-13 (1-7)
- San Jose State 7-12 (0-7)
New Mexico prepares for a road trip that begins in San Diego on Monday night. The once heated conference rivalry has gone a bit cold in recent years. Not to mention the toll the pandemic took on the matchup last season.
With that these two programs haven’t met on the court since 2019. So Monday’s 9:00 PM MT/8:00 PM PT matchup on FS1 is long over due for both fanbases. San Diego State has won four of the last five and may be looking for a quality at home after their recent 18-point loss to Utah State. And New Mexico would love to begin a conference winning streak inside Viejas Arena.
While you can find San Jose State on the CBS Sports Network on Tuesday evening. When they host in-state conference foe Fresno State, inside the Provident Credit Union Event Center at 8:00 PM PT. For a matchup spanning decades, and one the Bulldogs have dominated. Riding a 9-0 winning streak against the Spartans and a 2-14 record since the rivalry moved to the Mountain West.
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.