ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)Jaelen House scored 26 points and Jamal Mashburn Jr. added 19 to lead No. 22 New Mexico to an 88-69 win Wednesday over Colorado State in the Mountain West opener for both teams.
Morris Udeze added a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Lobos (13-0), who remained one of three unbeaten teams in the country.
John Tonje and Patrick Cartier each scored 16 for the Rams (8-6).
After the Rams got out to a 5-0 lead, New Mexico responded with a 16-0 run fueled by four 3-pointers, including two from House, who had eight points in the span.
”We just exploded offensively,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said. ”And we were getting stops. We were just making shots. We have not made a lot of shots this year, but we have not taken a lot of shots this year. … You’ve got to step in and catch and shoot 3s. We have the ability to do it.”
The Lobos later added 8-0 and 9-0 runs in the first half, while going 11-of-17 on 3-pointers – a single-game high — to ultimately lead 49-24 at halftime.
Rams coach Niko Medved admitted the goal was to close down the paint against New Mexico.
”They want to pound it inside. They want to get to the glass. They want to attack you off the dribble,” he said. ”You have to give them credit. They came ready to play. They buried shots. The first six minutes, that kind of tells the story. They beat us a different way than they have been beating other opponents. They’re a good team.”
Colorado State cut the deficit to 52-36 early in the second but could get no closer.
New Mexico came into the game with its first national ranking since finishing the 2013-14 season ranked 17. That was also the Lobos last trip to the NCAA Tournament. The New Mexico start is just the second time it has gone 13-0.
Shooting woes that plagued Colorado State in its previous game against USC when it shot 37.7 percent, returned. The Rams shot 37.9 percent in the first half and ended up 27-of-56, with star guard Isaiah Stevens going 4-of-15.
Pitino and other pundits have been building Stevens up and House said he was just tired of the attention the Rams guard was getting.
”This was an important game for me,” House said. ”A lot of people have been saying that Stevens was better than me, and I just wanted to go out there and show them he’s not better than me. I don’t like that. I’m not taking nothing away from him, but this was personal.”
New Mexico came into the game averaging 5.3 made 3-pointers per game and surpassed that total in the first six minutes, eventually finishing with 15.
”They’re good shooters,” Pitino said of his squad. ”The bread has been buttered with others things, but good teams take what the other teams give them.”
”I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that we won’t be the last team that loses in here,” Medved said. ”So at the end of the day we have to keep perspective. We have to play better, but it’s one loss and the train is going to move. And we have to pick ourselves up and get ready to play Saturday. The teams that are going to have success in the league are going to be able to move past winning and losing and get ready, and that’s what we have to do.”
New Mexico plays at Wyoming on Saturday.
Colorado State hosts San Jose State on Saturday.