The University of New Mexico Lobos finally lived up to their preseason hype. The Lobos handed the nationally ranked Nevada Wolfpack their first defeat of the season 85-58 Saturday night.
An announced crowd of 12,702 fans witnessed the blowout.
“These guys played their butts off,” said Lobos head coach Paul Weir. “They bought into what I am selling.”
Three Lobos scored in double figures with Anthony Mathis leading the way with 27 points. “Competitiveness was through the roof and obviously it’s because it was a great team,” said Mathis. “You can’t beat a team like that without competing.”
Vance Jackson had his best night as a Lobo. He scored 18 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished five assists, nearly getting a triple-double. Makuach Maluach was the other Lobo in double figures with 14 points. The Lobos recently started playing a zone defense and it was very helpful against the Wolfpack. The Lobos held their opponent to only 58 points.
The Lobos forced the Wolfpack into 14 turnovers and got 20 points off the miscues.
“It’s not easy to say, ‘okay, coach wants to go play zone, let’s go play zone’, but the guys did it,” said Weir. The nonconference portion of the schedule was a disappointment for the talent-heavy Lobos.
A 2-0 Mountain West conference start and victory over a top-six team could be the start of something special.
“I feel like our confidence is through the roof right now,” said Vance Jackson. “You know we just knocked down the number six team in the nation. You know we are just now finding ourselves so I feel like it’s only up from here.”
The win improved the Lobos record to 8-6 overall. The Wolfpack came into the game as one of only four teams in college basketball with an undefeated record. The loss puts the Wolfpack at 14-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
The Lobos return to the court Tuesday to host UNLV. The question is whether the Lobos will wear the special yellow and red uniforms they used in their upset over the Wolfpack?