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Men’s basketball: living legends show for New Mexico’s birthday game

This past Saturday, Jan. 6, the University of New Mexico men’s basketball defeated the Wyoming Cowboys 77-60. The game took place on the 112th anniversary of New Mexico’s statehood and living legends came to celebrate it with fans.

Former Lobo and Los Angeles Laker Michael Cooper and former Laker Shaquille O’Neal were present in The Pit supporting the Lobos in their  gold and red jerseys.

The Pit felt electric even before the game started and kept growing as the game went on. The first half started off strong with Nelly Junior Joseph (#23) stealing a pass and securing the first points of the game. From then on, the Lobos explosiveness, led by Jaelen House (#10), brought a strong offense and defense presence.

Both Dent’s and the team’s scrappiness led to a couple of clean steals and great ball movement throughout the match. They finished the half up with 17 points at 39-22.

While House kept the Cowboys on their toes for the majority of the game, Donovan Dent (#2) kept the offensive on theirs. Dent finished the game with the longest court time at 31 minutes and led the team in scoring with 21 points. After the game, Dent talked about how the team was able to recover from their loss against Colorado State on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

“The game was good after Tuesday. We just had to put it behind us and step up, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have work to do moving forward,” Dent said.

The second half saw the Cowboys attempt a comeback with players Mason Walters (#33), Akuel Kot (#13) and Cam Manyawu (#5) all stepping up and making baskets. The Cowboys brought the score to 43-35, but the Lobos kept the lead by racking up foul after foul and making their free throws.

The electricity the Lobo fans had at The Pit continued and turned into the crowd expressing their disappointment at some of the referee’s calls on fouls. But their disappointment would not last long as JT Toppin (#15) secured a two-handed dunk off a great pass from House.

As the fourth quarter started off, the Cowboys took a timeout – wanting to stop the Lobos momentum as the lead began to grow to 53-44, but the Lobos had other plans. House came off the bench and secured himself a stylish behind-the-back layup; Tru Washington (#3) stole another pass and secured himself a basket back-to-back.

Head Coach Richard Pitino talked about the energy that Washington creates for the team.

“That energy – making plays at the rim, getting steals. It’s good to have him healthy and back for sure. He does a great job at getting to the basket and taking those high percentage shots,” Pitino said.

Both teams held onto their strengths and forged forward. By the second media timeout of the half, the score had reached 66-54 with the Lobos in the lead, and they kept their lead for the remainder of the game. House got one last chance to steal a pass and break away before the buzzer went off, ending the game 77-60.

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The Lobos now stand at 13-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play. They are 8-0 at home but will be going on the road to Reno where they’ll play against the University of Nevada on Tuesday, Jan. 9. They will be back in town Saturday, Jan. 13 where they play against San Diego State University.

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @BillyJackDL

BillyJack Davidson

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL 

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