The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team lost to the Colorado State University Rams 83-68 Thursday, Feb. 17 at The Pit.
The Rams came to Albuquerque at No. 3 in the Mountain West conference and on a four-game win streak. The Lobos were hoping to get another upset after defeating the University of Wyoming on Tuesday, Feb. 15 but failed.
Colorado State features star forward David Roddy, who had averaged 19.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season. The Lobos lost their first matchup to the Rams, 80-74, back in January.
Starting the game, UNM took too many quick threes — four of their first six shots — and Roddy made his first four field goals to put his team up 12-2 four minutes into the game. However, the Lobos quickly responded with a flurry of dunks, threes and steals to cut the lead to 17-16 with 12:02 left in the first half. Once that lead closed, the rest of the half was always within one possession with 14 lead changes in the first half alone.
K.J. Jenkins was the first player off the bench for UNM and made his first three shots for seven points. Jaelen House led the Lobos with 11 first-half points, five steals and a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line with Jamal Mashburn Jr. grabbing four rebounds. Seven Lobos scored in the first half.
Roddy was as efficient as ever and scored 15 points, leading the Rams in scoring in the first half. The Lobos kept every other CSU player under seven points.
CSU came out of halftime pushing the ball hard up the court. UNM center Sebastian Forsling picked up a quick third foul within the first minute and had to come out of the game, giving the Lobos a size disadvantage.
The Lobos, who had done a good job on the boards in the first half, began losing the rebounding battle to the Rams. CSU outrebounded UNM 36-27 in the second half, resulting in nine more field goal attempts. The Rams also destroyed the Lobos in the paint 44-22 with Roddy becoming more available under the basket for layups.
Ultimately, the Rams’ physicality was too much for the Lobos to overcome, and CSU won 83-68. Despite his extended absence due to foul trouble, Roddy shot 8-11 for 16 points in the second half. Altogether, Roddy finished with 31 points and 9 rebounds for the game total.
After the game, UNM forward Javonté Johnson said Roddy is a really tough player to guard and the Lobos couldn't maintain their energy going into the second half.
“I think in the first half we had a lot of energy, and everyone was in line on what we had to do,” Johnson said. “In the second half, I feel like we took our foot off the pedal a little bit.”
Johnson said that UNM chose not to double Roddy in the post because of his passing ability. UNM head coach Richard Pitino said strategy worked to limit CSU’s supporting players in the first half but the Lobos began having problems with their ball movement once CSU began switching on the UNM screens. Pitino also said he believes CSU is a good enough team to make the NCAA Sweet 16.
“We were getting stuck,” Pitino said. “We didn’t trust our ball movement and our player movement, and we kind of stared at House and Mash(burn). House and Mash(burn) are the reason we’ve won 11 games, but we need to do a much better job … because it was just way too much dribble, dribble, dribble.”
The Lobos will be on the road next week to play at San José State, who the Lobos beat 86-70 back in January, on Sunday, Feb. 20 and will then play Utah State, who they lost to in overtime, on Tuesday, Feb. 22. UNM will then return to The Pit on Saturday, Feb. 26 to face the United States Air Force Academy.
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy