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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos lose to UNLV at home

Here are some notes, quotes, tweets and more tidbits that didn’t fit into print (especially on a tight deadline due to the late start of the game) from Tuesday night’s UNLV 80-69 win over the UNM Lobos in Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit:

Not on point

Anthony Mathis was great last week for the Lobos. His 27 points in the win over No. 6 Nevada was the things Lobo legends are made of, and even earned him on Monday the Mountain West Player of the Week.

In the second half on Tuesday night, however, it was painfully obvious why he was never a point guard in his career. The Lobos offense struggled mightily on each possession that started with the ball in his hands.

Yes, both of UNM’s other point guards — Drue Drinnon and Keith McGee — were available, but played a combined zero minutes in the second half — the half that UNLV made the adjustments to stop UNM’s offense by putting 6-1 PG Noah Robotham up tight on Mathis at all times on the court, both wearing him out and preventing him from getting the space he needs to be what we’ve all seen him become in other games: One of the best shooters in the country.

On Tuesday, the defense rattled Mathis into bad shot selection, turnovers and prevented any other Lobo from getting going on offense in the second half because the Lobos simply would not make any adjustment. It was possession after possession after possession of Mathis starting the team’s offense near half court without being able to so much as pass the ball to a teammate without Robotham disrupting everything.

So, why did Drinnon and McGee not get off the bench in the second half?

“We’ve been playing Anthony there at the point,” Lobos coach Paul Weir said. “Obviously he just struggled there tonight, maybe with some fatigue. That’s something we could have done differently.

“You just hope at some point he’s going to start to hit some shots. We were playing from behind. We just needed his offense to get back in it.”

Well, aside from his offense never showing up, his starting every Lobo possession with the ball prevented any other Lobo offense from getting going, too.

Mathis’ stat line for Tuesday’s game:
• Minutes: 38:29
• Points: 9
• Shooting: 3-14 (2-10 3’s); 1-2 FTs
• Assists: 4
• Turnovers: 5
• Rebounds: 3

True, except the use of guards in the plural would suggest Weir tried other guards in the second half. He basically did not.

McGee did not play at all. Drinnon played 6 minutes, 48 seconds, all in the first half.

After what Mathis did last week, and all season to be honest after the JaQuan Lyle injury left the Lobos without a point guard ready to take on the nonconference, it’s hard to pile on Mathis too much.

But this is now the second week of January. And Drinnon and McGee are much better today than in early November. They would have been better on the point than Mathis, who would have benefitted from being off the ball, allowing him to get free for open shots.

Another head scratcher

After admitting his team had not even practiced zone once in the off season or in season before the Dec. 18 loss to North Texas, the Lobos have now gone three games without playing one possession of man defense.

It worked in two games last week. Now, teams have the video to figure out the Lobos’ approach, which includes pulling up the wings so high that corner 3s or baseline drives are as open as can be, which UNLV win Kris Clyburn exploited all game to the tune of a game-high 25 points to go a long with nine rebounds, 2-for-2 3-point shooting and 7-for-7 free throw shooting.

Gamer

Here was the game filed from courtside late Tuesday. Due to the 9 p.m. start of the game, my deadline required me to stay down in the Pit a few extra minutes to file my story, without quotes, before going to the press conference. Well, Paul Weir was done with his press conference even before I walked up the ramp. So, here’s the game story without quotes (though I did transcribe some from a recording I had from someone else who was at his brief press conference):

He said what? Part 1

“We’re not as good as we think just because of one game. That showed itself tonight.” — UNM coach Paul Weir

He said what? Part 2

“We have a theory. We like to punish people for presses. We didn’t do that in the first half.” — UNLV coach Marvin Menzies

Something to Bragg about

His shot selection in the second half, after scoring in the post on UNM’s first possession out of the break, wasn’t great. But junior forward Carlton Bragg was unstoppable at times for the Lobos down low, only further leading to fan frustration about his lack of post touches in the second half.

Bragg picked up two fouls in the opening 1 minute, 53 seconds, leading to just four total minutes played in the half.

Still, he scored eight points on four consecutive Lobo possessions with three back-to-the-basket post moves that abused the Rebels, and then a pair of free throws when the Rebels deciding fouling him might be the best way to stop him.

Bragg’s final stat line vs. UNLV:
• Minutes: 21:19
• Points: 12
• Shooting: 5-10 (5-9 2s, 0-1 3s); 2-2 FTs
• Rebounds: 7 (2 offensive)
• Fouls drawn: 2
• Turnovers: 2
• Steals 1

It would be silly not to also mention fellow post player Corey Manigault’s stat line since he actually led the Lobos in scoring on Tuesday. Here was Manigault’s line:
• Minutes: 30:18
• Points: 13
• Shooting: 4-6 (all 2s); 5-6 FTs
• Rebounds: 5 (2 offensive)
• Fouls drawn: 6 (game high)
• Turnovers: 1
• Steals: 3
• Blocks: 1

Don’t I know you?

The New Mexico State Aggies are sitting in Las Cruces wishing they were on the court so they don’t have to wait an entire week since their WAC-opening loss to California Baptist (yes, Cal Baptist, who beat the perennial WAC power last Thursday in the program’s first-ever game as a member of the WAC).

Nevertheless, there was reason for at least some in Las Cruces to make Tuesday’s night’s UNLV at UNM game appointment television, like NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia.

 

A number to know: 5-18

UNLV’s Marvin Menzies is now 5-18 all-time vs. UNM. Certainly not a great number, but there’s also this: Four of his wins have come in the Pit, including being now 2-1 in the Pit at UNLV’s head coach.

Tuesday was his first win against his former nine-year assistant, Weir, who went 2-0 vs. Menzies last season.

Menzies did a brilliant job of handling on Tuesday night what Nevada couldn’t on Saturday: the Lobos offense, the Lobos zone defense and the Pit.

A UNM number to know: 6-25

Just how bad was the Lobos’ shooting in the second half on Tuesday? Here are the numbers and a tweet that includes a picture of their dreadful shot chart (warning NSFW):

• 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) on 2-pointers
• 1-of-10 (10.0 percent) on 3-pointers

Up next

UNM plays at Colorado State on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Announced attendance

The announced attendance for Tuesday night’s late starting game: 10,242

Plus/minus numbers

Here are the plus/minus numbers for Tuesday’s games for Lobos players with their minutes played in parenthesis:

+3 Vladimir Pinchuk (7:34)
-1 Drue Drinnon (6:48)
-2 Karim Ezzeddine (4:09)
-4 Makuach Maluach (32:38)
-7 Carlton Bragg (21:19)
-8 Dane Kuiper (31:49)
-9 Corey Manigault (30:18)
-10 Anthony Mathis (38:29)
-17 Vance Jackson (26:56)

Meanwhile, in Fort Collins…

The Lobos next game is up I-25 (ok, way up I-25) in Fort Collins against the Colorado State Rams. And just what did the Rams do on Tuesday night? They picked up the first MWC win under first-year head coach Niko Medved.

Around the Mountain

The Mountain West had three games on the Tuesday night schedule, two more on Wednesday and five on Saturday:

TUESDAY:
• Colorado State 87, Air Force 64
• San Diego State 84, Wyoming 54
• UNLV 80, New Mexico 69

WEDNESDAY:
(Times MT)
• Fresno State at Utah State, 7 p.m.
• San Jose State at No. 10 Nevada, 9 p.m.

SATURDAY:
(Times MT)
• Boise State at San Jose State, 1 p.m.
• New Mexico at Colorado State, 2 p.m.
• San Diego State at Air Force, 2 p.m.
• Utah State at Wyoming, 4 p.m.
• No. 10 Nevada at Fresno State, 6 p.m.

Mountain West standings

Mountain West standings through Tuesday:
3-0 UNLV
2-0 Boise State
2-0 Fresno State
2-1 New Mexico
1-1 Nevada
1-1 San Diego State
1-1 Utah State
1-2 Colorado State
0-1 San Jose State
0-3 Air Force
0-3 Wyoming

And as for those plus/minus standings, which give a plus-1 for road wins and a minus-1 for home losses:

+1 BSU
+1 FS
+1 UNLV
0 CSU
0 Nev
0 SDSU
0 UNM
0 USU
-1 AFA
-1 SJSU
-1 Wyo

Final stat sheet

Here was the final stat sheet handed out after UNLV’s win:

The fans said what?

Here are just a few of the tweets from Lobo fans (or non-fans) from Tuesday night:

Grammer’s Guesses

My Grammer’s Guesses went 0-3 on Tuesday, following a perfect 5-0 Saturday showing. I’m now 7-6 on season.

The daughter’s #TeamCoin coin flip picks from her lucky piggy bank went 2-1 on Tuesday and she’s back in the race at 6-7 on the season.

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