ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The game saw 8 lead changes and just as many ties. When the clock hit zero the University of New Mexico Lobos had themselves a 74-61 victory over a Utah State team that beat the Lobos in the first week of January. “We improved tonight,” said Lobos head coach Craig Neal. “We are continuing to take one step forward.” Reigning Mountain West Player of the Week, Elijah Brown, had 24 points and 8 rebounds for the Lobos.
Forward Tim Williams scored 13 points and pulled down five rebounds. Koby McEwen led Utah State in scoring with 17 points. Jalen Moore had 14. The Lobos held a 32-29 lead at the half and managed to pull away in the second half. The Aggies went on a scoring drought that lasted about five minutes while the Lobos went on a 10-0 run.
The Aggies, one of the best three point shooting teams in the league, only shot a little over 35 percent from long range. Despite the struggle at the three point line, the Aggies were able to make a run after getting down double digits in the second half. They cut what was a 13 point deficit down to six late in the game before the Lobos came roaring back to win by 13. The Lobos shot 100 percent from the free throw line, going 17 for 17.
Utah State struggle at the line shooting just under 53 percent. Lobos guard Jordan Hunter did not play in the first meeting between the two clubs due to an ankle injury. He made his presence felt Tuesday night scoring 6 points and dishing out five of the Lobos 17 assists. Utah State had 9.
Lobos forward Connor MacDougall returned from concussion protocol and poured in ten points in ten minutes of work. The Lobos also got productive play from guard Dane Kuiper, who finished with 8 points. “I thought Dane was tremendous defensively,” said Neal. I thought he was outstanding on Jalen Moore, who is one of the better players in the league.” True freshman guard Jalen Harris scored 7 points. Harris showed off his speed and shot creativity when going to the basket.
Freshman Damien Jefferson came off the bench to score 6 points for the Lobos, going 3 for 3 from the field. “Damien Jefferson, he’s a lightning rod for us,” said Neal. With the victory the Lobos improved to 6-3 in the Mountain West and 13-8 overall. The win sets up a showdown for first place against Nevada Saturday.