Game Recap: New Mexico 84, SMU 63
Josiah Allick helps lead Lobo attack in double-digit road win.
New Mexico posts 21-point road win over SMU, lead by four Lobos in double figures
DALLAS, TX–The New Mexico Lobos are living up to every bit of preseason hype they received by national media. Dubbed The Sleeper of the Mountain West Conference. The pieces are coming together early for head coach Richard Pitino, and his program is becoming a date on the calendar no opponent is looking forward to at the moment.
Two wins to start the season over an up and coming Southern Utah program. As well as a Southern Alabama squad, who will challenge for a Sun Belt Conference regular season title this year says quite a bit.
But, those quality wins at home inside one of the greatest home court advantages in the country are one thing. Taking things on the road Tuesday night was going to be a true test to just how far this team has come.
The Lobos traveled east to face a SMU Mustangs program in a bit of a rebuilding year. Longtime head coach Tim Jankovich announced his retirement in late March, with his successor Rob Lanier was named his successor shortly after.
That came after a successful season at Georgia State, which saw the Panthers make a run to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship and a punched ticket to face #1 seeded Gonzaga in the first round.
The visiting Lobos really hit the ground running inside Moody Coliseum. Leading the game for all but about four minutes early on. Spearheaded by efficient defense, careful ball handling and a balanced attack. New Mexico forced 15 turnovers (11 in the first-half) and capitalized with 20 scored points on those turnovers. While themselves dishing out 21 assists to just 10 of their own turnovers.
Now, the offensive attack wasn’t exactly balanced. As the Lobos shot a poor 29.4% from three-point range, but scoring contributions came from all over the roster in this one. With the Lobos’ leading man for majority of the night being post player Josiah Allick. One of four Lobos to reach double-digit scoring (18 points) alongside Jaelen House (18 points), Jamal Mashburn Jr. (16 points) and Morris Udeze (15 points).
All of this fire power, helped New Mexico shoot a whopping 52.5% from the field. Helping secure one of their biggest wins of the Richard Pitino era.
The score may not reflect it, but the Mustangs still gave the Lobos some fight Tuesday night. Led by sophomore guard Zhuric Phelps, who led the Mustangs with 16 points. And a press felt by the Lobos’ ballhandlers for the full range of the court and all night.
The Lobos 21-point road win against a team of Southern Methodist’s caliber feels very nostalgic for Lobo fans. It’s been quite awhile since the program had such a winning momentum. And lived up to the preseason hype. But still, it’s very early in the season and another huge test in their non-conference slate waiting for them back in Albuquerque this weekend.
New Mexico: Sr. F Josiah Allick
A big focus of coach Pitino this offseason was getting his high scoring duo of House and Mashburn Jr. some support on the scoreboard. Another element lacking from last season’s squad was points in the paint, insert Josiah Allick.
The 6-8 transfer forward from Kansas City looked like an all-league caliber forward Tuesday night in Dallas. Leading the Lobo attack most of the night, Allick finished with 18 points (8-9 from the floor, 88.9%), 9 rebounds & 2 blocked shots in just under thirty minutes of play. He was getting it done from multiple spots on the court. Running the floor, posting up in the paint and of course attacking the rim.
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He and fellow transfer forward Morris Udeze are a powerful one-two punch in the frontcourt for coach Pitino. Which perfectly complements his star studded backcourt of Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr.
Southern Methodist: So. G Zhuric Phelps
SMU struggled most of the night, on both sides of the ball. But Phelps was one Mustang who never took his foot off of the gas against the Lobos. Finishing the night with 16 points, 3 assists, 1 rebounds & 1 steal in just 27 minutes on the floor. While shooting 5-11 from the floor (45.5%) and 5-7 (71.4%) from the free throw line.
Phelps really challenged the Lobo backcourt to stay on top of their defensive assignments. With quality shot selection and smart play when drawing some of the few fouls called against New Mexico all night.
- The Lobos look like the real deal after this quality road win. Of course SMU isn’t the exact same program that has challenged for the top spot in the American the last few seasons. But a quality road win nonetheless. As New Mexico was 2-12 away from the Pit last season, so progress in their first true road test of the season is progress.
- Once again, the fact that this team is now capable of getting their scoring from other players besides just House and Mashburn is huge. I mean, house didn’t pass the double-digit threshold until well into the second-half. Where he once again took over the game with his speed, high motor and ability to get to the bucket, fouled or not (9-10 on FTs). But say Allick didn’t have his first half performance, the game would have been a lot closer and more of a dogfight given very similar statistics on both sides.
- KJ Jenkins is really putting forward his name for Mountain West 6th Man of the Year early on. With 8 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds & 3 steals in just 19 minutes off of the bench, Jenkins look good when he’s on the floor. Contributing with shots, distributing, rebounding as always and now playing defense. Even though he is still struggling to find his three point shot this season (4-13 through three games), he’s certainly the sparkplug off of the bench the this team needs.
The Lobos head home to prepare for this year’s first installment of the Rio Grande Rivalry. As they host the New Mexico State Aggies Saturday the 15th at 5:00 PM. That matchup tips-off the Mountain West Network and is must see streaming for all fanbases involved.
The Lobos are playing some of their best basketball in years. While the Aggies displayed some growing pains in their recent down to the wire loss at fellow rival UTEP over the weekend. This is a big test for coach Pitino and his revamped program. A win Saturday may let the rest of the Mountain West know they’ve returned.
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.