The best laid plans of Eric Musselman went very far astray. The New Mexico Lobos crushed No. 6 Nevada on Saturday night, handing the Wolf Pack its first loss of the season in convincing fashion. The Lobos dominated the Wolf Pack from the opening tip, eventually pulling away to a 85-58 final score.
Nevada came into the game as 16-point favorites on KenPom and with no reason to be worried. The Wolf Pack demolished Utah State 72-49 in its first Mountain West game and were facing a 7-6 New Mexico team that had done nothing of note thus far. But Nevada’s cast of star players were noticeably absent on Saturday night, with the Martin twins going 2-of-18 from the field and Jordan Caroline only shooting 1-of-5 from three. Meanwhile, New Mexico’s Anthony Mathis put on a show, scoring 27 points and hitting five threes. Vance Jackson added 18 points off the bench. That secured the Lobos their first win over a top 10 team since 2014 and a court storming to remember for the fans at The Pit.
Nevada got off to a slow start, scoring just nine points in the first 10 minutes and falling behind 19-9. This time, Nevada was unable to recover. The raucous crowd in Albuquerque watched as Nevada’s supercharged offense missed shot after shot in the first half. Defensively, Nevada showed some serious issues as New Mexico got whatever it wanted in the paint and dominated on the glass (New Mexico had a 47-37 edge in rebounds). Combined with an abysmal shooting night for Nevada, the game quickly got out of hand in the second half as New Mexico’s 12-point halftime advantage ballooned to a staggering 27 points by the end. The game was essentially over at the under 8 timeout. Nevada won’t win many games shooting 4-of-19 from deep, but this one got tremendously embarrassing as New Mexico ran Eric Musselman’s team out of the gym.
New Mexico improves to 2-0 in the Mountain West while Nevada falls to 1-1. Before tonight, it wasn’t inconceivable to believe the Wolf Pack would not drop a game before the NCAA Tournament. It certainly didn’t seem likely against a New Mexico team that had recently lost to the likes of Penn and North Texas. And then the Lobos won by 27. So much for that. College basketball never stops delivering surprises for us.