The CSU Rams entered Saturday’s game as an injury-riddled ten point underdog, with top scorers Prentiss Nixon and Jeremiah Paige out with ankle and hand injuries. The Lobos did exactly what a team should do against a wounded opponent, taking advantage of CSU’s weaknesses in 80-65 lopsided win at the Pit on Saturday Night.
Reigning Mountain West Player of the week Antino Jackson led the Lobos with 12 points and 11 assists, as four Lobos finished the game in double figures. Junior guard Troy Simons provided a spark off the bench for head coach Paul Weir, scoring 13 points on 4-6 shooting, including 3-5 from downtown. It was the first action for Simons since his ejection and subsequent suspension in the Boise State game on January 3rd.
Although the Rams outshot the Lobos 53% to 52% and out-rebounded UNM by ten total boards, the Lobos forced 23 turnovers and converted those turnovers into 30 points on the other end of the court.
After a slow start to the game, the Lobos took a seven-point lead on a three-point basket by Jachai Simmons with 13:36 left in the first period. CSU would get within five on a dunk by Raquan Mitchell with just under 10:54, but the Lobos would cruise to a 14-point lead at halftime.
The Rams played hard, including a 14 point, 15 rebound performance by forward Nico Carvacho, but they simply did not have enough firepower with Prentiss and Paige out of the lineup.
The win for the Lobos was once again a team effort, as all nine Lobos who played in the game for coach Weir scored at least two points. The Lobos outscored the Rams 33 to 11 in bench points, and UNM’s press defense and high octane offense led to a plus-8 in fast break points.
With the win, the Lobos move to .500 on the season at 11-11 and 6-3 in MWC play, while the Rams fall to 10-13 and 3-7 with the loss. At 6-3, New Mexico is just 1.5 games behind conference-leading Nevada who lost a double-overtime thriller last Wednesday.