LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – The lights at the Pan American Center went out due to a power outage on Tuesday night; when they came back on, New Mexico shot them out again.
In the first Battle of I-25 basketball showdown in two years, New Mexico defeated New Mexico State 101-94, after a campus-wide power outage at NMSU shut out the lights in the arena, delaying the game for 50 minutes.
When the lights came back on thanks to the back-up generator in the arena, it was a skeleton operation. The outage completely knocked out power to the television and radio broadcasts for the rest of the game and coverage did not resume as planned on ESPN+. Aggies radio broadcaster Jack Nixon called the game using a cell phone.
By the second half, bathrooms throughout the arena were deemed unusable and lights around the arena and in the parking lot were still out at the conclusion of the game. The in-arena lights that lit the floor were on thanks to the generator.
Making matters worse, New Mexico State was also without head coach Chris Jans for the second consecutive game due to COVID-19 protocols. Instead, associate head coach James Miller filled in.
“Our people were great about communicating what was going on, trying to get the generators up and running, trying to figure out how long it would be until we’d play,” said NMSU acting head coach James Miller. “Obviously they did a good job getting everything up and running on generators, it’s still dark up here.”
The Lobos and Aggies still played a classic despite the odd circumstances, though. Jaelen House scored 29 points and dished out five assists to lead New Mexico, hitting big shots throughout the game in head coach Richard Pitino’s first taste of the rivalry.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. added 19 points for the Lobos (5-3). Jay Allen-Tovar pitched in with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Javonte Johnson scored 12.
Teddy Allen topped the Aggies (5-2) with 31 points, going 12 for 12 at the free-throw line. Sir’Jabari Rice added 21 points, while Will McNair Jr. scored 14 with eight rebounds.
“We just didn’t defend tonight. We didn’t get stops when we needed to and that’s not that culture and DNA of our program. It was really disappointing,” said Miller. “(Not having Jans) doesn’t soften the blow at all. Coach’s expectation, my expectation, our team’s expectation was to win the game.”
NMSU allowed UNM to shoot 47 percent from the floor, giving up 10 offensive rebounds.
NMSU hopes Jans is able to return to the bench for Friday’s road trip to play UTEP, which tips off at 6 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso.
The Aggies and Lobos will square off again Monday, Dec. 6 in Albuquerque.