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January 19, 2011

First half dooms UNM in 82-72 loss at Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - Josh Watkins scored 22 points and J.J. O'Brien added a career-high 18 to help Utah beat New Mexico 82-72 on Wednesday night.

Watkins scored on a variety of drives and pushed the ball at every opportunity to spark the Utes (9-10, 2-3 Mountain West) to back-to-back wins after dropping seven straight.

O'Brien, a freshman who missed nine games with a broken foot and had only scored 32 points all season, made 7 of 13 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Utes stretched the Lobos' zone defense by making seven of their first nine 3-point attempts. Then they found room to drive the lane and get open looks closer to the basket.

Kendall Williams led New Mexico (13-6, 1-3) with 18 points while Dairese Gary added 15 points and and five assists set a conference mark for career assists with 483. Utah led 45-31 after the first half.

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