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David Selvig / Forum News Service, Published November 06 2013

New Mexico pulls away from Jamestown in men's exhibition basketball game

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –The University of Jamestown hung around early on Wednesday night, but eventually the 20th-ranked team in the country started to flex its muscles.

Not the No. 20 team in the NAIA, mind you. This was the No. 20 New Mexico Lobos – a 3-seed in last year’s NCAA tournament. A team with aspirations much higher this season than winning its third straight Mountain West conference title.

“They’re really good. They have guys that can do things a lot of players can’t,” Jimmies coach Justin Wieck said. “That’s why they’re 20th in the country. They’re special.”

New Mexico came away with a 94-51 win at The Pit.

It was an exhibition game that came about because of the relationship between Wieck and Lobos lead man Craig Neal. Wieck was a player and Neal an assistant coach at the University of Iowa in the mid-2000s.

“It was fun to have an ex-player bring his team here. I had a lot of fun with that,” Neal said. “Justin’s doing a good job. His kids competed hard.”

In soccer terms, it was a bit of a friendly, but the Jimmies made the Lobos stress for a half.

The 13,426 fans inside The Pit got a little anxious early as the Jimmies hung around. Breshion Tucker splashed in consecutive 3-pointers to bring the Jimmies within two (28-26) with 6 minutes, 40 seconds left in the opening half.

“I told (assistant coach) Danny (Neville) if we could just hang around and make their crowd feel a little anxious, then we would have done something,” Wieck said. “There was a point there where you could feel that, so that was kind of cool.”

After staying within five or closer for the balance of the first 20 minutes, the Lobos finally got some breathing room late on a tip-in from 7-footer Alex Kirk and a 3-ball from NBA point guard prospect Kendall Williams to stretch their lead to 39-29.

It took a while to get the lead over 10, but not past 20.

Cullen Neal, son of head coach Craig Neal and who Wieck watched grow up back in Iowa City, hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Lobos scored 15 of the first 20 points of the second half and never looked back. It was Neal’s first start.

“He’s earned it,” Craig Neal said of his son being in the starting lineup.

The Jimmies (2-2) were coming off a disappointing weekend, losing at home to Northwestern and Dordt, two NAIA teams. Northwestern is ranked 14th.

The Jimmies fly to Omaha today and play Friday and Saturday in Seward, Neb. Friday’s game is against No. 13 Oklahoma Wesleyan.

“This was a lot of fun. I really liked how we played in the first half,” Wieck said. “This is a great place to play college basketball. We’ll remember this for a long time.”

UJ: Wingo 2-7 5, Janu 3-5 6, Brequan Tucker 3-9 8, Breshion Tucker 2-8 6, Hoge 4-12 10, Newton 4-7 11, Brown 1-5 2, Hagler 0-3 0, Behm 0-2 0, Smith 1-4 3, Potter 0-2 0, Knodel 0-2 0, Giese 0-1 0, Collins 0-1 0, Havron 0-1 0.Totals 20-69 51. (free throws not available)

UNM: Bairstow 4-8 8-10 16, Kirk 6-14 0-0 12, Greenwood 5-7 0-0 10, Williams 4-8 2-2 11, Neal 4-10 3-4 14, Thomas 2-2 3-4 7, Edwards 1-3 0-0 3, Aget 1-1 2-2 4, Williams 3-5 1-2 7, Lindsay 0-1 0-0 0, Banyard 3-4 2-2 8, Delaney 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 34-64 21-26 94.

Half: UNM 43, UJ 31. 3-point goals: UJ 11-40 (Wingo 1-3, Brequan Tucker 2-5, Breshion Tucker 2-7, Hoge 2-6, Newton 3-5, Brown 0-4, Hagler 0-1, Smith 1-4, Potter 0-2, Knodel 0-2, Giese 0-1, UNM 5-17 (Kirk 0-3, Greenwood 0-1, Williams 1-2, Neal 3-7, Edwards 1-2, Williams 0-1, Lindsay 0-1). Total fouls: UJ 20, UNM 13. Rebounds: UJ 26 (Wingo 7), UNM 56 (Kirk 10). Assists: UJ 12 (Hoge 5), UNM 20 (Williams 6). Steals: UJ 8 (Brequan Tucker, Smith 2), UNM 10 (Williams 3). Turnovers: UJ 15, UNM 14.

Selvig writes for the Jamestown Sun