The Associated Press and Optic staff
Kendall Williams tied a career high with 24 points, including nine during a first-half run that brought New Mexico back from a double-digit deficit, and the No. 16 Lobos beat rival New Mexico State for the second time in a week with a 68-63 win Wednesday night in Las Cruces.
Tony Snell added 11 points for New Mexico (12-0), which matched the second-best start in school history.
The Aggies (5-6) went on a 16-4 run that included four three-pointers to build a 25-14 lead, but then Williams took over, scoring seven straight points to key an 11-0 run that tied it at 25 with 4:35 left in the first half.
The Lobos held a slim 34-32 edge at intermission.
Snell scored six straight points in an 8-0 run early in the second half, breaking a 41-all tie and putting the Lobos ahead to stay.
New Mexico State closed to 56-54 with 3:14 left, but Hugh Greenwood, who had 10 points and six rebounds, responded with a 3-pointer and Alex Kirk hit two free throws.
The Aggies again chipped away and pulled to 62-58 with 1:02 left, but Snell drove the lane for a floater and Williams scored twice from the line to keep the Lobos in control.
Williams hit all eight of his foul shots to help New Mexico finish 16 of 21 from the line, compared to 11 for 20 for the Aggies. He made seven of 12 attempts from the floor, including two of five shots from three-point land.
Daniel Mullings scored 13 points and notched five assists for New Mexico State.
New Mexico struggled from three-point range, going 6 for 20, while the Aggies were 10 of 17 from behind the arc. Six of those makes came in the first half, however, and the Aggies were less accurate down the stretch.
NMSU enjoyed a size advantage and edged the Lobos on the boards 39 to 35; Sy Bandja led the Aggies with 10. Cameron Bairstow grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to go with nine points; he had a solid night while frontcourt mate Alex Kirk saw his recent string of double-digit scoring games end.
UNM and coach Steve Alford host South Dakota State on Saturday in The Pit; tip-off is 12:30 p.m.
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Earlier in the week, UNM’s women also completed a season sweep of their intrastate rivals, dominating a 68-44 game at the Pan Am Center.
Caroline Durbin swished four three-point baskets and finished with a game-high 18 points to pace the Lobos, now 8-3 overall.
New Mexico State dropped to 5-4 after a tough shooting performance that saw the Aggies make just 14 field goals in 46 attempts (30 percent).
NMSU was just 4-for-22 from three-point range (18 percent), although Sasha Weber made two threes in five tries.
Weber led the Aggies with 10 points. Danesia Williamson had nine points, five assists and three steals.
The Lobos had little trouble staying in front despite getting just eight free-throw attempts all night.
Durbin was the lone New Mexico player to reach double figures, but 11 of the Lobos scored. Sara Halasz went four for seven to finish with nine points.
UNM connected on 48 percent of its field goals.
Coach Yvonne Sanchez and her club were to make another trip down I-25 on Thursday for a game at Texas-El Paso.