basketball-men-d1 flag

Mike Lopresti | | January 3, 2023

17 things to know about New Mexico, the final unbeaten DI men's basketball team

Arizona climbs back to No. 2 in Andy Katz's first Power 36 of 2023

Down went Purdue Monday night. Which means introductions are in order.

Say hello to the New Mexico Lobos, a team now alone in their perfection.

“We have a refuse to lose mentality,” junior guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. was saying about the 14-0 Lobos. So far, anyway. Here are 17 things to know about the last unbeaten team in the land.

(Editor's note: This article was written before undefeated Purdue lost to Rutgers. It has been updated.)

new mexico

1. 55 years

We’re talking mostly black-and-white television the last time the Lobos started 14-0. That was 55 years year. Also, it is only Jan. 2 — not quite the halfway mark of the schedule — and New Mexico has already passed its victory total last season, when the final record was 13-19.

RELATED: Undefeated teams tracker

2. Amazing

The Lobos are No. 21 in this week’s Associated Press poll, their highest spot in more than eight years. They’ve been on a steady ascent, since not receiving a single vote in the AP preseason poll and being voted fifth in the Mountain West pre-season rankings. “I thought we would be improved, but probably not sitting here like this,” coach Richard Pitino said. Best start in a half-century? “Amazing,” Pitino said. One of the country’s last two unbeaten teams before Purdue went down? “Amazing,” Pitino said. There seems a theme here.

3. Unexpected

The Lobos are part of the unexpected landscape that is college basketball as 2023 begins. Purdue has gone from unranked to No. 1. North Carolina began the season No. 1 and Kentucky No. 4, and neither are ranked this week. Neither are Big East favorites Creighton and Villanova, who are a combined 15-13. But the College of Charleston is.

4. Free throws

The 2023 portion of the season begins with the Lobos second in the nation in free throws attempted. And made.

5. Blowouts

Their 84-63 win at SMU was the Mustangs’ worst non-conference thrashing on their home court in 28 years.

6. Streaks snapped

They fell behind Saint Mary’s 13-2 after eight minutes but rolled past the Gaels to snap their 23-game homecourt winning streak, 69-65.

7. Comebacks

They were down 12 points to San Francisco but rallied to win 67-64.

RANKINGS: Check out the latest Power 36 rankings from Andy Katz

8. Clutch

They escaped at Wyoming 76-75 last weekend, with two Mashburn free throws with 17.7 seconds left. “They can’t all be beautiful,” Pitino said. “Sometimes you need to go on the road and make one more play than them.”

9. Family battles

New Mexico won the Pitino Bowl, as the Lobos defeated Iona 82-74. It was Richard Pitino coaching against Rick, the 21st father-son matchup in Division I history.

10. Points in the paint

The Lobos like to work close to the basket. Only 28.4 percent of their field goal attempts have been from behind the three-point arc and their 237 three-point shots are 330th in the nation. They’re averaging 36.9 points in the paint a game.

2023: A decade-by-decade look back on men's college basketball's '3' ending years

11. Experience

Between nine returnees and two transfers, New Mexico’s roster averaged a combined 93.5 points last season.

12. Transfer success

The Lobos are one of only three teams in the nation with three players averaging above 15.5 points a game — Mashburn and Jaelen House at 17.1, and Morris Udeze at 15.7. All three transferred to Albuquerque in the past two seasons.

13. Like father, like son

Mashburn followed Pitino from Minnesota to New Mexico last season to continue to play for him. It runs in the families. Mashburn’s father Jamal played for Rick Pitino at Kentucky. The son has scored double figures in 35 consecutive games, tied for the third-longest streak in the nation.

NAMES: Some of the best names in men's college basketball this season, and the stories behind them

14. Family ties

House is the latest star of a basketball-rich heritage. His father Eddie is the career leading scorer at Arizona State, where Jaelen started. His uncle Mike played for the 1997 Arizona national champions, who beat Rick Pitino’s Kentucky in the title game. His grandfather Henry was a guard for UCLA’s championship team in the early 1970s. Seven more points and Jaelen will join his three relatives with 1,000 career points.

15. Stability

Pitino, whose eight seasons at Minnesota included an NIT championship and 2017 Big Ten coach of the year, has sent out the same starting five in all 14 games.

16. Postseason

The Lobos hope this good karma carries over to March. New Mexico has not won an NCAA tournament game in 10 years. The last Sweet 16 appearance for the Lobos was in 1974.

2023 SELECTION SUNDAY: Date, schedule, TV times

17. The hunted

The next threat to New Mexico’s perfect record is Tuesday’s trip to Fresno State, where the Lobos have not won since 2016. New Mexico has become a high-value target.

“We’ve been kind of like transformed from the hunters to the hunted,” forward Josiah Allick said. “We’re not going to have any easy ones the rest of the way.”

Indeed, Pitino knows what is required ahead.

“I mean, who are we to be arrogant?” he said. “Our guys have been humble, they’ve been hungry.”

And so far, impossible to beat. The only one left.

How the 2023 Nuttycombe Invitational impacts the outlook of the NCAA cross country title races

The 2023 Nuttycombe Invitational closed an exciting cross country regular season. Here are some takeaways from one of the nation's premier meets.

Ranking the top college cross country performances after one month

We're just one month into the DI cross country season and we've already seen some of the nation's best runners put on a show. Let's rank the top performances so far, for both the men and women.

USC's Rayah Marshall leads this week's women's basketball Starting Five

Rayah Marshall's career-high 33 points, the most by a USC player since 2006, headlines this weeks women's basketball Starting Five.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners