Seventh-seeded New Mexico opened the Mountain West tournament Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center by defeating No. 10 San Jose State 79-66.
The Lobos used a 21-point run in the first half and then held off a spurt by the Spartans that opened the second half.
Next up for New Mexico (19-13) is second-seeded Utah State (23-8) in a quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Thursday.
The Lobos will find out quickly if there is carryover from their 66-64 upset victory over the Aggies in the final game of the regular season.
“It gave us a lot of confidence,” New Mexico wing Vance Jackson said. “We know we’re capable of competing with anybody in our conference. I feel like that win was big. But we’ve got to forget about it and move on. We face them tomorrow.”
Jackson said he had “a bitter taste” from last year’s conference tournament when the Aggies eliminated New Mexico 91-83 in the quarterfinals.
He had done everything he could to carry his team last year, in two games totaling 51 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and six steals. Jackson became the first player to be named to the Mountain West all-tournament team without appearing in the semifinals.
That also earned him the moniker “Vegas Vance.”
He lived up to that nickname against San Jose State (7-24). After the Spartans opened the second half with a seven-point run to get to within 45-36, Jackson scored the Lobos’ next 14 points in a 4:09 span.
He finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
■ Air Force 77, Fresno State 70 — AJ Walker scored 24 points and Lavelle Scottie 21 to lead ninth-seeded Air Force over No. 8 Fresno State.
New Williams led Fresno State with 21 points, and former Desert Pines High School standout Nate Grimes had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Falcons play top-seeded and fifth-ranked San Diego State (28-1) at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
■ Wyoming 80, Colorado State 74 — The Cowboys became the first 11th seed to win a Mountain West tournament game.
Five players scored in double figures for Wyoming (8-23), with Kwane Marble III leading the team with 20 points.
Isaiah Stevens had 22 points and eight rebounds for sixth-seeded Colorado State (20-12) and Nico Carvacho finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Colorado State lost even though it outrebounded the Cowboys 48-26.
Wyoming plays third-seeded UNR (19-11) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.