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Men's basketball: Lobos win close game against South Alabama

The University of New Mexico men's basketball team played the University of South Alabama Jaguars on Friday, Nov. 11, coming out victorious 80-74 in a game that went down to the wire.

Jaelen House and Morris Udeze both scored 21 points. Jamal Mashburn Jr. had 16 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer off a pass from Josiah Allick; Allick almost had a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Going into the game, the Lobos would face a huge challenge in the form of 7-footer Kevin Samuel. The additions of Udeze and Allick for Lobos would prove to help neutralize him: Samuel was held to 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. However, the real standout was Isaiah Moore who had a statline of 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

Allick scored the first 5 points for the Lobos by working his way into the paint and drawing fouls. House put his body on the line to get his opponent to foul him and hit a 3-footer after the Jaguars inbounded the ball.

The Lobos built their lead by going on a 9-0 run, but the Jaguars answered right back with Samuel getting up to block Allick leading to fastbreak points. Samuel had a dunk that put the Jaguars within 4 points. The Lobos were up 14-10 at the media timeout with 13:34 left in the half.

Out of the timeout, Udeze was fouled on his dunk and sank his free throw. This was followed by House getting fouled on a layup attempt where he made both of his free throws. The UNM offense went through a 3-minute scoring drought that was ended by Mashburn with a pair of free throws. With 7:55 left in the half, the Lobos were up 25-19.

UNM’s offense went stagnant again, but the Lobos were able to stave off the Jaguars due to a steady amount of free throws and offensive rebounding. However, the Jaguars tied the game with a 3-pointer, but Sebastian Forsling put the Lobos back in front, scoring off a KJ Jenkins assist. Jaguar Jamar Franklin hit a 3 at the halftime buzzer, but the Lobos maintained their lead 36-35 going into the second half.

The key in the second half was slowing down Moore who had 15 points and six assists at the half. The Lobos would also look to continue drawing fouls shooting 11 free throws in the half compared to the Jaguars’ 2.

The Jaguars had a layup on their opening possession to start the second half, but House put the Lobos back in front with a layup and free throws. He then stole the ball and made both of his free throws after a foul. Udeze was fouled on his layup, but missed his free throw. The Jaguars had another three to tie the game and continued on a 5-0 run that Mashburn ended with a mid-range jumpshot.

Jenkins stole the ball which led to a Mashburn three pointer and the Lobos taking the lead. South Alabama called a timeout down 50-48 with 14:34 left in the game.

The Lobo offense had found its footing and scored 12 unanswered points, but the Jaguars had back-to-back 3s to cut the Lobo lead to one. Jenkins hit a 3 which again gave the Lobos a spark. A media timeout was called with the Lobos up just 65-64 with 6:53 remaining.

Allick had an offensive rebound and scored to put the Lobos up by 5 but the Jaguars didn't quit. The Lobos were up 76-74 with 34 seconds left when they inbounded the ball, and Mashburn hit an open 3-pointer to seal the game. Allick had a steal which led to House getting two free throws which ended the game. The Lobos won 80-74.

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After the game, Allick talked about the state of the team and how the team keeps its composure.

"We have a lot of poise. We don't get too caught up in whether we're up or whether we're down. We just kind of play our game now we definitely have some things to clean up defensively but from an emotional standpoint, no one is getting too hot," Allick said.

Head coach Richard Pitino gave credit to both his team and South Alabama.

"A great win. I tried to tell our team during scouting I don't gas up opponents, I don't over hype them. I'm going to tell you exactly what I see and I'm going to give you the truth. And I thought South Alabama was a terrific team.  I think that's a team that can win a conference championship … I told the team before the game we got to play our best basketball as the game goes on and I thought that the middle part of the second half and the end is when we played our best basketball, it was great to see," Pitino said.

The Lobos have now advanced to a 2-0 record and next play on the road against Southern Methodist University on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10

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