LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP)Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored 20 points, including the game-winning free throws with 18 seconds remaining, to lead No. 22 New Mexico to a 76-75 victory over Wyoming on Saturday.
The Lobos (14-0, 2-0 Mountain West) remain one of only three unbeaten teams nationally.
The Cowboys (5-9, 0-2), who dropped their fourth consecutive game, had a chance to take a late lead but Max Agbonkpolo missed an open look.
After New Mexico’s Josiah Allick was fouled and missed a pair of free throws, Brendan Wenzel’s desperation shot at the buzzer was off target. Allick took advantage of his size advantage in the post, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
USC transfer Ethan Anderson finished with 17 points on 7 for 10 shooting to lead the Cowboys. Hunter Maldonado added 15 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.
”We had to play Josiah (Allick) a lot because we thought it was the best matchup on Maldonado,” New Mexico coach Richard Pitino said. ”When he was out of the game, we were switching ball screens. The problem was we were getting really spread out and they were going one on one and getting to the rim. Then we stopped rebounding the ball. We gave up a couple of offensive rebounds that were just crucial.
”But at the end of the day, we thought it’d be a close game because of the tempo that they play out. And we thought they’re really good team.”
The Lobos’ Jaelen House had 16 points before fouling Xavier DuSell in the final minute. DuSell missed the front end of a one-on-one with Wyoming clinging to a 75-74 lead.
New Mexico upset then-No. 22 Wyoming, 75-66, on Feb. 15, 2022. The Cowboys could not return the favor.
The Lobos trailed 33-32 at the intermission after shooting 38% from the field and getting outscored 16-8 in the paint by the undermanned Cowboys.
Noah Reynolds, Wyoming’s leading scorer, had eight early points but left the game after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head.
The Cowboys have been without preseason Mountain West player of the year Graham Ike all season due to a right foot injury and his replacement in the post, 6-10 forward Hunter Thompson, missed Saturday’s game due to illness.
”I thought not knowing if Ike was going to play and not knowing Thompson wasn’t going to play, it may have kind of got us feeling a little comfortable at first,” Pitino said. ”We just kept trying to tell our guys, `They’ve got good players. They were in the NCAA tournament last year. Maldonado is one of the best players in this league.’ So, we just had to find a way to make one or more plays than them, and we did.”
There were 12 ties and nine lead changes.
”I think our guys, considering the circumstances – Thompson not playing, (Reynolds) getting hurt, (Maldonado) being in foul trouble – really stepped up against a really good team,” Wyoming coach Jeff Linder said.
New Mexico: Eclipsed last season’s win total (13) and avoided a Quad 3 loss.
Wyoming: After being picked to finish second in the preseason Mountain West poll the Cowboys continued their disappointing start with a fourth consecutive defeat.
New Mexico: Travels to Fresno State on Tuesday.
Wyoming: Hosts preseason Mountain West favorite San Diego State on Jan. 7.
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