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Hoops notebook: Penn to play Lobos in the Pit in December

The Lobos sure hope the Ivy isn’t poison this go ’round.

While University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Paul Weir says he’s still working on finalizing the program’s nonconference schedule, it is taking shape as other schools continue to release their schedules.

The Penn Quakers this week unveiled, as part of their men’s basketball 2018-19 schedule, a Dec. 22 date in Albuquerque, playing the Lobos in Dreamstyle Arena — the Pit.

It will be the first time the two teams have played in men’s basketball, and the first time UNM has played a team from the Ivy league since being upset by 14-seed Harvard in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Penn is coming off a 24-9 season in which it was co-champion with Harvard in the regular season and beat the Crimson in the league tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Penn returns four of five starters, including 6-foot-8 all-league first-team forward A.J. Brodeur and second-team all-leaguer Ryan Betley, a 6-5 guard who led the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game.

The matchup is one of seven known nonconference games for UNM, which will have between 11 and 13 games before opening Mountain West Conference play on Jan. 2 at Air Force.

The known home games in the Pit, with date (if known) include: vs. New Mexico State, vs. UTEP (Nov. 4), vs. Colorado and vs. Penn. Road games will include NMSU and Bradley. The Lobos play a neutral court game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Dec. 7 against Saint Mary’s.

NO VAIL: Former Grants High guard Matt Vail, who was on the roster all last season though never cleared to dress out for the team as a walk-on, is not listed on the team’s online roster anymore. He was, as recently as Tuesday.

There has been no official decision about whether the 5-foot-10 point guard has actually left the team, though.

“Matt and I are currently discussing his future plans and until those are cemented I’d rather not comment,” Weir said Wednesday night. Vail has practiced with the team all offseason.

Meanwhile, 6-4 Towson transfer guard Zane Martin, who has to sit out this season per NCAA rules, is now listed on the roster as No. 0, the number Vail had on last year’s roster.

WALK-ON TRYOUTS: The Lobos are holding open walk-on tryouts at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Rudy Davalos practice facility.

To be eligible, players must be full-time, 12-credit hour students in good academic standing and have a schedule that works around the team’s practices.

Interested players must be cleared by the department’s compliance office before being allowed to try out and have a physical.

MANAGERS: The Lobo team managers were proud to announce their two newest members via their Twitter account (@UNMLoboMBBMGRS) on Wednesday night: Kurt Kelley, a junior at UNM who used to play baseball at Clovis High School, and freshman Deion D’Arco from Albuquerque High.

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