Game Recap: New Mexico 77, San Jose State 57
Lobos find rhythm in second-half to put away the Spartans.
New Mexico secures a 20-point win over San Jose State in mic’d up showdown.
ALBUQUERQUE, NM–The Lobos returned home after maybe their biggest win of the Pitino era. A near double-digit win over a ranked San Diego State Aztec squad on the road inside Viejas Arena. It certainly revitalized a Lobo fan base for a Tuesday night matchup against the San Jose State Spartans.
Like Pitino, second year head coach Tim Miles has turned the Spartan program around in a very short time. San Jose State may not be vying for a Mountain West title this season, but they’ve emerged as a serious foe to see on your schedule with plenty more to come.
The Lobos couldn’t take the visiting Spartans lightly Tuesday evening. Not in an increasingly competitive Mountain West where surely every game counts come March.
The first half began a bit rocky for the hosts, as the Spartans began to confirm a bit of pregame worries and took the 7-4 lead early. The Lobos began to separate themselves with their defense, forcing empty Spartan possessions helped New Mexico make an 11-2 run bordering the ten minute mark.
The Spartans stayed resurgent and shrunk the Lobo lead several times before the half. Keeping the home team’s lead to single-digits most of the way and forcing the Lobos to earn their points at the foul stripe. Something New Mexico doesn’t do at an elite level as of late.
Although offensive efficiency was in very short supply on both sides, the Lobos knocked down shots and took advantage of free ones (10-14, in the 1st half). Giving them the 32-23 halftime lead, but likely unhappy with their performance in the first twenty minutes.
The second-half was much of the same, two teams grinding it out for the W. The Lobos were able to outscore their visitors 21-15 in the first ten minutes of the second-half. But keeping with the theme of the night, the Spartans crawled back, slowly. Though as New Mexico began to find their rhythm offensively, courtesy of Jaelen House. The game slowly slipped away,
Even with a less than optimal night shooting the ball, New Mexico’s three headed monster showed up. Morris Udeze, Jamal Mashburn Jr. & Jaelen House accounted for 57 of the teams 77 points. That trio was joined by KJ Jenkins, who also reached double-digits with 10 points of his own. Which included two of the Lobos three total three-point field goals.
New Mexico: G Jaelen House
This was a tough decision, as the Lobos wouldn’t have had the comfortable lead in the first-half without Udeze’s play. But House earned the Lobos player spotlight with his second-half performance.
With an increased intensity, he was able to not only contribute twelve of his twenty points during that time. But also log five assists with only one turnover in plays such as the one below to create a more comfortable lead and secure a more impressive win.
— Lobo Basketball (@UNMLoboMBB) January 18, 2023
San Jose State: G Omari Moore
In what was an abysmal offensive display by the Spartans in the first-half. The shining light was Omari Moore, who led all scorers with 24 points to go along with 5 assists & 4 rebounds.
If there were any chinks in the Lobos armor Tuesday night. It was defending the 6-6 do it all Spartan leader. Moore was able to cut through their defense and create fast break opportunities.
- The Lobos were due to an off night, luckily it came against the Spartans who were manageable versus say Boise State on Friday. Nothing about this win was particularly pretty, but not all of them can be. The important thing is coming back to the Pit primed and ready to secure another quad 1 win over the Broncos.
- San Jose State simply had a very poor night offensively. They aren’t world renowned for their scoring. But 33.9% from the floor & 18.8% from deep put them in a tough spot to compete. They did the job making New Mexico work for their points in the first-half. But the Spartan defense sizzled out in the last ten minutes or so.
- Lastly, New Mexico showed some growth with their second-half reboot offensively. Even though the focus has been to increase the intensity defensively, after a poor offensive performance in the first-half they adapted. Increasing their lead and putting any doubt in the arena to rest with a 20-point win.
Even though the turnaround time isn’t the best, at least the Lobos are home to rest up and lock in for an constantly improving Boise State squad. The Broncos have become one of the more dangerous teams to see on your schedule once again this year. And New Mexico could use a solid road win against another title contending foe.
New Mexico’s matchup against Boise State is set to tip-off at 9:00 PM MST on FS1.
While San Jose State rounds out their road trip with a stop in Logan on Saturday. The Aggies have reloaded using the transfer portal again this season and are one of the many title contenders vying for the Mountain West’s top spot.
The Spartan’s mid-day Saturday game is set to tip-off at 4:00 PM MT/3:00 PM PT on the Mountain West 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.