New Mexico over Idaho State 79-55
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Cullen Neal led a balanced scoring attack with a career-high 26 points as the New Mexico Lobos capitalized on a strong first half en route to a 79-55 win over Idaho State on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
New Mexico, returning just two starters from the 2013 squad that finished 27-7, had 11 players score with the trio of starting guards, Neal, Hugh Greenwood, Deshawn Delaney and center Obij Aget leading the way.
”All in all, I thought they gave great effort,” New Mexico head coach Craig Neal said of his team. ”I thought all of our guys played well, and I’m just really happy to win our first game.”
Greenwood stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with eight points, seven assists and 11 rebounds. Delaney pitched in 12 points and seven boards, while Aget picked up a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Neal was expected to take over primary ball handling duties coming into the season after Greenwood held that responsibility the last three years, but the two split point guard duties throughout the night.
Craig Neal was pleased with their versatility.
”I think I have two really good guards, who can shoot it, pass it and do whatever it takes to win,” the elder Neal said of his point guard duo. ”I like those two guys in Hugh and Cullen because they just want to win.”
The coach’s son, Cullen Neal hit 3-of-5 three-point attempts in the first half for 11 points, and Delaney scored 10 of his 12 points in the period, hitting all four of his shots from the field as the Lobos went into the break with a 42-20 lead.
For Idaho State, senior forward Jeffrey Solarin and Chris Hansen scored 17 points apiece against a New Mexico defense that held the Bengals to just 33.9% from the field.
”New Mexico has really good, athletic kids inside and it was just really difficult to score right at the basket,” Bengals head coach Bill Evans said following the game. ”I think they’re a solid team and I think they played well, but I also think we can play better.”