akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

LAS VEGAS — New Mexico came into the 2024 Mountain West Conference Tournament residing on the edge of the cliff regarding its NCAA Tournament status, but its point guard, Jaelen House, continued to have an edge on his opponents on Friday night that now leaves the Lobos on the verge of a conference championship.

House stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds as No. 6 New Mexico cruised to a 74-61 victory over No. 7 Colorado State to advance to the Mountain West championship game. JT Toppin was a rebounds away from a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds as the Lobos will play in its first conference tournament title game since 2018.

Waiting for the Lobos will be last year’s regular-season and tournament champions, No. 5 San Diego State, who knocked out No. 1 Utah State 86-76 in the first semifinal. The Aztecs (7) and Lobos (4) have won the most Mountain West Conference Tournament championships since the conference was first formed in the 1999-2000 season.

“Another great win. I love how we have turned into a terrific defensive team during this tournament,” New Mexico coach Richard Pitino said. “We have gotten better and better with each game. Colorado State is a team that doesn’t turn the ball over a lot and shoots a high percentage, and we were able to do both. I am proud of our guys and we get a chance to go against a great team tomorrow and play for a championship.”

House dazzled last night in the win against the No. 2-seeded Boise State Broncos, going for 29 points in the victory, and he got the Lobos off to the right start — a beginning that included New Mexico scoring the first 11 points of the game — with nine points and five assists the first half.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday’s event, with all photos taken by Las Vegas-area photographer Christopher Trim. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 56 pictures in total.


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Tags : College BasketballColorado State RamsMountain West ConferenceNew Mexico LobosSan Diego State AztecsUtah State Aggies

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