After a pair of Kyle Barone free throws put the Idaho (1-3) men ahead of New Mexico (5-0) by a 49-46 score at the 14:14 mark of the second half, the Lobos responded with a 19-0 scoring run during which Idaho turned the ball over six times and missed 10 consecutive shots.
The Vandals were 19-of-36 (.528) from the floor at that point in the game, but shot just 4-of-20 (.200) in the game’s final 14 minutes and couldn’t answer the final Lobo run.
“We scored nine points in the last 14 minutes of the ball game,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said. “We just didn’t score at a high enough level and they just got rolling. We couldn’t get a stop on defense, and then couldn’t get a shot when we needed to.”
Sophomore guard scored a career-high 20 points after going 6-of-12 from 3-point range and Barone, the team’s senior center, added 16 points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists. Junior guard Stephen Madison scored nine points with six rebounds and four assists. Senior guard Mike McChristian dished up a career-high eight assists in the game.
As a team, Idaho finished the game shooting 23-of-56 (.411) overall and 8-of-24 (.333) from 3-point range. New Mexico went 24-of-47 (.511) overall and 10-of-20 (.500) from long range in the game.
Idaho held New Mexico’s starting five to 39 points, but guard Demetrius Walker came off the bench for the Lobos and went 5-of-5 from 3-point range to contribute 19 of UNM’s 34 bench points in the game. Center Alex Kirk added 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while guard Kendall Williams added 10 points and seven assists.
“They got 15,000 people here the day after Thanksgiving, everyone was dressed in red and they really love their basketball here,” Verlin said. “Their crowd got behind them and they picked up the pressure. When that happened, we started to make some errors and it kind of snowballed on us.”
Idaho returns to the Palouse this week and will renew the oldest active rivalry west of the Mississippi River on Wednesday, Nov. 28, when the Vandal men play at Washington State. The border rivalry has been played every year since the 1905-06 season.
The Cougars are 2-3 this season and host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday before facing the Vandals. Wednesday’s game tips off at 7 p.m. (PT) and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
“When we beat Oregon and Oregon State the last two years, it was because we were able to execute and compete at a high level from start to finish,” Verlin said. “We’ve got to be able to sustain our intensity and our execution and that’s going to come with time and experience, but that has to be what we work on this week.”