ALBUQUERQUE — Five Lobos finished in double figures as the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team beat Grambling State, 86-61, on Monday night in The Pit.

UNM (2-1) never trailed in the second half, using its guard-oriented offense to pull away in the final 10 minutes. Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House each had 18 to lead the Lobos, while Jevonte Johnson and Taryn Todd each had 16.

Regular starters Gehtro Muscadin and Jay Allen-Tovar started the game on the bench, but Muscadin finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Head coach Richard Pitino said their benching had more to do with “mixing things up” than it did disciplining them for their poor performance in UNM’s most recent game, a loss at Colorado.

“It’s a 40-minute game. They weren’t punished by any means,” Pitino said. “That wasn’t the point of it. I thought Gethro really, really responded, certainly in the second half.”

The play of the game came late in the second half when the Lobos showed some of that teamwork Pitino has been wanting to see. It started with a Muscadin block of Grambling State’s Shawndarius Cowart in the lane, a swat that left Muscadin staring down at Cowart as he lay on the floor under the basket.

House immediately led a transition break and passed underhanded to Johnson on the wing. Johnson pump-faked a 3-pointer and bounced a 20-foot pass to a cutting Taryn Todd for a reverse layup to open a 69-56 lead with 5:38 left.

The Lobos will be at home for their next two games, beginning Saturday afternoon against Montana State.

NOTES

Pitino said the mother of an unidentified Grambling State assistant coach died during the game. That coach took a phone call outside the team’s locker room just before Pitino addressed the media in a postgame press conference. He could clearly be heard howling as he spoke on the phone. … House had eight steals in Monday’s game, making it the first time in school history the Lobos have had two straight games where a player had at least seven steals. Todd had seven in the loss to Colorado last weekend.

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