UNM Lobos celebrate after their teammate KJ Jenkins (0) scored a 3-pointer against Iona Gaels in the pit on Dec. 18. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/ ) They’ve added another.
The No. 22 UNM Lobos (12-0) on Wednesday confirmed they’ve added a Jan. 9 home game in the Pit against Oral Roberts, a 10-3 team ranked No. 55 in the NCAA’s NET rankings that is the heavy favorite to win the Summit League this season.
The NET rankings are what the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses in March to help determine which teams get invited to the Field of 68 and where they are seeded in the tournament.
UNM and New Mexico State University agreed in November to cancel this season’s rivalry series — leaving both short of the NCAA-allowed 31 game limit in the regular season and also costing both programs a home game and a road game against a potential quality opponent in the computer rankings as the Lobos are ranked 14th in the NET as of Wednesday and the Aggies are 92. There are 363 Division I teams.
To make up for the lost games, the Lobos earlier this month added a short-notice neutral court game in Las Vegas, Nevada, with San Francisco — a game the Lobos won 67-64 on Dec. 12. USF is currently ranked 88 in the NET.
Now, with just under two weeks notice, the Lobos have also replaced the lost home game with an Oral Roberts team that is not only ranked 55 in the NET, but boasts one of college basketball’s most dynamic players over the past several seasons in 6- foot guard Max Abmas (pronounced Ace-mas).
Abmas is averaging 18.9 points per game this season. Last season, he ranked 5th in the NCAA with 22.8 points per game and he led the NCAA in scoring with 24.5 point per game in a 2021 season in which he helped lead the the No. 15 seed Golden Eagles into the Sweet 16 with upsets over Ohio State and Florida.
Both teams had an opening early in that week in January. The Lobos now play UNLV at home in the Pit Jan. 7, then the ORU game on Jan. 9 before playing at San Diego State on Jan. 14.
The Oral Roberts game contract calls for UNM to pay $55,000 — a sum expected to be easily covered at the gate for the game. The usual rate for a “buy” game in Division I this season was in the $75,000-$80,000 range for the host team, which is what UNM received when it played at Saint Mary’s on Nov. 30 and what it paid teams to play in the Pit earlier this season (home-and-home games and league games do not have such payouts).
Lobo season ticket holders will receive their tickets in their online accounts in the coming days, UNM said. Individual tickets won’t be put on sale until next week, the school announced.
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The game will be streamed online on TheMW.com.
While news of the game circulated Tuesday afternoon, UNM confirmed the game Wednesday morning — the day of the Mountain West Conference opener against Colorado State.