The 2023-24 college basketball season tipped off in style for the New Mexico men’s basketball team as they crushed the preseason SWAC favorite, Texas Southern, with a score of 92-55. This resounding victory marked the Lobos’ largest season-opening win against a Division I opponent since the 2011-12 season.
The Lobos showcased their depth as eleven players made it onto the scoreboard, with each contributing at least four points. Leading the charge was Jamal Mashburn, Jr., who put up an impressive 15 points. Donovan Dent wasn’t far behind, contributing 12 points, while Braden Appelhans and JT Toppin came off the bench to score 11 points each. Toppin also made a significant impact on the boards, grabbing a game-high nine rebounds in his collegiate debut.
Here’s how the game unfolded:
First Half Action: The Lobos faced an early challenge as Texas Southern grabbed a 7-3 lead. However, UNM responded with a 16-2 run, taking a commanding 19-9 lead after nine minutes of play. They continued to extend their lead and finished the first half ahead by 17 points at 41-24. Jamal Mashburn led the Lobos in the first half with 10 points, and JT Toppin was an impressive presence, contributing nine points and eight rebounds.
Second Half Surge: In the second half, the Lobos dominated with a 14-0 run, pushing their lead to 30 points at 59-29 with 14 minutes to go. They maintained a 30-point lead until there were 7:24 left in the game. The Lobos closed the game with an 11-3 run, finishing with their largest lead of the night at 37 points, making it the largest lead against a Division I opponent in the Pitino era.
Notable Lobo Achievements:
- New Mexico’s 37-point victory marked their most significant win against a Division I opponent in a season opener since 2011-12.
- This 37-point victory was also their most substantial margin of victory against a Division I opponent in any game since 2016.
- Jamal Mashburn scored in double figures for the 64th time in 67 career games as a Lobo.
- Seven Lobos made their official debut, and six of them scored their first points for UNM.
Coach Richard Pitino expressed his satisfaction with the win, highlighting the team’s effort, depth, and strong fan support. He believes that with such commitment, the Lobos will enjoy a successful season.
Upcoming Game: The Lobos will now embark on their first road trip of the season, where they’ll face the No. 23 Saint Mary’s team on Thursday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and marks their second consecutive season traveling to Moraga, having previously snapped the Gaels’ school-record 23-game home win streak with a victory.
Lobos fall to UNLV
The Lobos experienced a tough loss at home as they faced the UNLV Rebels, with a final score of 56-14. UNM’s performance in the first half was marred by multiple mistakes, including special teams blunders, as UNLV capitalized on starting in favorable field positions, scoring touchdowns on each opportunity. The Rebels also won the turnover battle 2-0, converting those turnovers into 14 points.
The 42-point margin of defeat marked UNM’s worst in a conference game since 2018 and the most points allowed at home since 2014. The Lobos had a challenging start, and despite some positive moments in the game, they couldn’t overcome their early struggles.
While the basketball team celebrated a triumphant season opener, the football team faced a challenging night at home, highlighting the ups and downs of New Mexico’s sports scene.