LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) Zach Lofton scored 28 points and New Mexico State used a big second half to defeat New Mexico 75-56 on Friday night in the return of former Aggies coach Paul Weir to Las Cruces.
Weir is in his first year as the Lobos coach after leaving New Mexico State after last season for its in-state rival. Weir was an associate head coach for nine seasons at NMSU before leading the Aggies to a 28-6 record, a Western Athletic Conference title and an NCAA Tournament appearance in his lone year as head coach.
The Lobos (2-1) came into the game first in the nation in scoring after wins of 147-76 (Northern New Mexico) and 102-71 (Omaha) but both teams only shot 39 percent this night. However, the Aggies (2-1), under new coach Chris Jans, made 21 of 29 free throws and outrebounded the Lobos 50-25 which led to a 23-5 edge in second-chance points and 38-24 in the paint.
The Aggies led 31-28 at halftime with Lofton and Sidy N'Dir hitting 3-pointers to open the second half. The Lobos were as close as five with eight minutes left but the Aggies pulled away down the stretch, closing the game on a 16-6 run with 11 points from Lofton.
N'Dir finished with 14 points, Eli Chuha added 13 points and Jemerrio Jones grabbed 16 rebounds.
Anthony Mathis scored 14 points off the bench and Chris McNeal added 10 points for the Lobos.
There were five technical fouls, one on Weir, two on the Lobos' Troy Simons, and one each on the Aggies' Jones and Shunn Buchanan.
The teams will meet again in Albuquerque on Dec. 9.
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