ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- — It was the Jaelen House show Saturday as the New Mexico guard scored 28 points -- 26 of those in the first half -- to lead the Lobos to a 106-62 win over downstate rival New Mexico State.
Femi Odukale scored 18 to lead the Aggies (4-6) and Kaosi Ezegu chipped in 13.
The game was particularly tense early on with a flagrant foul against Odukale, who also got a technical. The Aggies were whistled for 18 first-half fouls.
Washington also picked up a first-half technical.
The game was still relatively close midway through the first half, with the Lobos leading 27-21 before going on an 18-3 run to push the lead to 45-24.
“We obviously shared the ball extremely well,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said, noting New Mexico had 24 assists on the 32 field goals. “That’s been a consistent message. We have lot of talent. It can’t just be one or two guys. We have to spread the wealth and get assisted jump shots.”
New Mexico used a stifling defense to create 17 turnovers -- including 10 steals -- leading to a 19-10 advantage in points off turnovers, including a 21-0 edge on fast-break scoring.
“I thought defensively we did a lot of great things,” Pitino said. “In the second half, flew around. So overall, not a lot of complaints.”
Aggies coach Jason Hooten said New Mexico was simply the superior team.
“They’ve got a really good team, good players,” he said. “They’re very well coached. They were tougher than we were tonight. They beat us to every ball. Beat us to every rebound. I really don’t have anything positive out of this as far as our team. I don’t think we played very well. To be honest with you, I don’t know if we had played our best, what this outcome would have been tonight.”
The game marked the resumption of the series when last season’s home-and-home series was canceled after an Aggies player shot and killed a New Mexico student on the Albuquerque campus in the early morning hours before the first meeting of the season. Outside of the COVID-marred season, the teams had met at least once every season since World War II.
Relations between the schools remained strained for many months before both agreed to resume play amid increased security on both campuses.
But what happened last season is in the past, House said.
“We know it’s a rivalry game,” he said. “And we know we had to step up and put on a show for the fans. And that’s what we did tonight.”
And Pitino tried not to make an issue of what happened a year ago.
“It felt pretty normal to me,” he said. “Last year was obviously unfortunate but I had no concerns. I have a lot of respect for what coach Hooten is doing over there. And I was excited about the game, like I’m excited about all the games.”
House’s 26 first-half points was the most for a Lobos player in 20 years. He made 8-of-9 shots, including all five of his 3-point attempts, in his third game back after missing eight weeks because of a hip injury,
“The first two games I played, I didn’t feel like myself out there,” he said. “And tonight, I felt like myself for sure.”
New Mexico plays Santa Clara On Dec. 9 in the Jack Jones Classic tournament in Henderson, Nevada.
New Mexico State is home Dec. 12 against Northern New Mexico.
Get poll alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball
- Michael Irving
- David Hall
- Eric Curry