No. 25 New Mexico looking for more 'pop' against UNLV

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 09 Feb, 2024 at 05:24 PM

Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV and No. 25 New Mexico both enter Saturday night's game at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M., after decisive victories against Wyoming.

The Rebels (12-9, 5-4 Mountain West) extended their winning streak to three games with a 62-48 win over the visiting Cowboys last Saturday.

The Lobos (19-4, 7-3) bounced back from losing their first home game of the season, on Jan. 31 to Boise State, by defeating Wyoming 91-73 in Laramie, Wyo., on Tuesday night.

New Mexico, which has won six of its past seven games, is 11-1 at home entering Saturday's game with UNLV.

The teams met in Las Vegas on Jan. 9 and UNLV emerged victorious 83-73 -- the second-lowest scoring output by New Mexico in a Mountain West game this season.

"We just didn't have the pop we had in the first half," New Mexico coach Richard Pitino said of the loss to UNLV, a game in which the Rebels outscored the Lobos 43-35 in the second half.

"It starts with me and our coaching staff to get them ready. Give them credit, they played well, but I know we are better than that."

New Mexico's balanced effort in that game was not enough.

JT Toppin and Jaelen House each scored 16 points, while House also had six assists. Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored 13 points, while Mustapha Amzil had 10 points off the bench. Tru Washington had nine points and tied a career high with five steals.

In the bounce-back victory over Wyoming on Tuesday, the Lobos again showed the many ways they are dangerous.

Donovan Dent led five Lobos in double figures with 19 points, to go with seven assists and a career-high six rebounds. House had 17 points along with a career-high eight rebounds, while Mashburn scored 15 points. Amzil added 13 points, while Toppin had 11 points and 13 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.

"It was a complete game," Pitino said. "We did a good job of sustaining it, getting some stops when we needed to and converting on the other end. I thought our guys were so locked in and were mature."

In UNLV's win over New Mexico last month, twins Kalib and Keylan Boone combined for 46 points as Kalib scored a career-high 29 and Keylan added a season-high 17. Dedan Thomas Jr. contributed 14 points with seven assists for the Rebels.

The Rebels went on to lose three of their next four games before putting together their current three-game winning streak.

UNLV committed only four turnovers in the win over Wyoming last weekend. Keylan Boone and Thomas led the Rebels with 14 points apiece. Luis Rodriguez added 12.

"I'm really proud of our guys, knowing and respecting how good of a team Wyoming is, how much better they've been getting and how hard they play, I thought it was evident in the way we prepped and how we played," UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said after beating a Wyoming team that had won four of its previous five games.

--Field Level Media