New Mexico Holds Out to Secure Win Over a Feisty Oral Roberts

New Mexico Holds Out to Secure Win Over a Feisty Oral Roberts

Mountain West Basketball

New Mexico Holds Out to Secure Win Over a Feisty Oral Roberts


 Game Recap: New Mexico 82, Oral Roberts 75

Lobos bounce back with win over Oral Roberts on Monday Night. 

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New Mexico secures a solid impromptu win over a quality Oral Roberts team at home. 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM–A two week to plan an impromptu home game against a top-75 KenPom ranked conference favorite on a Monday night? Yes, please New Mexico. Losing games on the fly seemed like a thing of the past. But, you never quite know what the college basketball season will bring you.

Hence, Lobo fans were treated to an uber competitive non-conference showdown a few weeks into January. And the Summit League frontrunners, the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles didn’t disappoint.

Paul Mills squad came to the Pit for an upset win and the first thirteen minutes or show showed that. A quick 6-0 run by their hosts was quickly snuffed out with a Oral Roberts’ run that included two three pointers by their 7-5 post Connor Vanover.

With the game experiencing five ties after that, the Lobos were able to create some cushion with multiple fast break field goals to electrify their home crowd. It was enough to fend off the Oral Roberts’ advance to head into the locker room with the eight point lead.

As both squads hit the floor in the second half, both were primed to go. With five made field goals in less than two minutes out the gate. A Josiah Allick hustle play saw Oral Roberts call the timeout to try and slow down the Lobos, but they kept pushing. It was an exchange of field goals throughout, with the visiting Golden Eagles outscoring the Lobos 40-39 in the second-half.

But the home team was dialed in on both sides of the basketball. With an eventual breakthrough in the form of an 8-0 run at the ten minute mark to.  Giving the Lobos their largest lead of the game, at 72-67.

What followed was a scoring drought in the closing minutes and lapses on defense on the other end. That gave fans inside the Pit an uneasy feeling all too familiar. The Golden Eagles brought it to within five, as 9,249 anxious fans couldn’t wait for the final buzzer, it sounded.

After a tough loss in front of a sold out Pit last week, that winning feeling was needed.

“Similar to UNLV, we were up a little bit. And then we go into half-time with an eight point lead. We talked to them about walking out of this locker room last time and we were not ready to go. Let’s be ready to go.” coach Rick Pitino

“This mindset all season was never lose here, after that loss we had to bounce back and redeem ourselves.” freshman Donovan Dent

Monday’s 82-72 win gave the Lobos a 13-0 non-conference record, a quality resume win and a bit of their mojo back heading to California.

Player Spotlights

New Mexico:  G Jamal Mashburn Jr.

There were several high level performances on the Lobo stat sheet come the final buzzer. I mean both big men had double-doubles and also passed for as many assists (7) as their star backcourt. Mashburn Jr. was the shining consistent light for a New Mexico team, experiencing scoring droughts throughout the game. A grand total 24 points (tying a season high), 7 rebounds & 2 assists on 11-23 shooting.

At times Oral Roberts drained their field goal attempts, on the other end the ball was placed in Mashburn Jr.’s hands. With confidence and the drive to make up for Saturday’s loss, the 6-2 guard was fearless getting his points.

Oral Roberts:  G Max Abmas

Getting a chance to watch Abmas in person after what he did in the NCAA Tournament in 2021 was a treat. Even though he didn’t exactly find his shot from beyond the arc (3-13), his offense and motor was turned all the way up. With a 26-point performance that was spread out evenly across two halves, Abmas doesn’t give up. He had an “off” night, at least shooting wise, given his career three-point shooting rate of 39.0%.

But still, his performance on edge until the final second as several late shots with under a minute to play were falling. Something you don’t see of often at this level and a great way to finish non-conference play for the season.

Three Takeaways

  • The Lobos contained one of the best offensive teams in the nation Monday night. A top-25 KenPom ranked Golden Eagle squad that averaged a 3rd best in the nation 6.0 BPG, spread out among other players besides their 7-5 big man. Also being in the top-50 for assists allowed (11.9), New Mexico faired well. While trying to stop one of the best scoring teams in the country at the same time.
  • Even though their second-half defense was an improvement over games past. Facing an offense that averages 84.3 PPG (9th in the nation) and a whopping 11.3 made three pointers a game (4th in the country) took it’s toll. A small break down in the last five minutes or so on both sides of the ball put Lobo fans on the edge of their seats for a game. But the team held strong, knocking down shots when it counted and making defensive stops when they counted too. This team showed progress and displayed a learned experience from a tough week of basketball. “We knew that Oral Roberts would score points. They score points on everybody. We had to be very mature offensively. But it was great to take a little bit of control and build that lead.” Coach Pitino
  • Everyone showed up today. As mentioned prior, this game was not going to be a cake walk. But as the bench gets shorter and shorter with injuries, players are stepping up. In the absence of starting Wing Javonte Johnson with an elbow injury, freshman Donovan Dent filled the role. With 9 points (on 4-5 shooting), 3 rebounds & 3 blocked shots (all in the first half). Taking dvantage of all 28 minutes of play. Others like Seck playing solid defense off of the bench. Udeze and Allick combing for 7 assists or House adjusting to more of a defensive/supporting role during his off night.

Next Up:

The Lobos get little rest as they head on the road to San Diego for a Saturday night clash of conference foes. This longtime Mountain West conference rivalry is maybe the most high powered contest in recent years.

As the now No. 23 ranked Aztecs host a quality New Mexico team with a 14-0 start to the season and top-25 ranking of their own.

New Mexico’s matchup against the Aztecs is set to tip-off at 7:00 PM MST/6:00 PM PT on the CBS Sports Network.

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.


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