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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos fall at home to Fresno State

Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets, videos and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Saturday’s 81-73 Fresno State win over the UNM Lobos in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit:

Vance continuing to emerge

A couple weeks ago, things weren’t looking great for Vance Jackson.

The sophomore wing seemed to be in a tough spot. He was then, and still is today, the highest usage player on the team (meaning when he’s on the court, he is a part of more offensive possessions than any other Lobo). And he was second on the team in pretty much every statistical category (points, rebounds, assists, etc.).

Basically, he was filling the stat sheet on a regular basis, but he was doing it on an increasingly inefficient manner, which starts to look bad for any player asked to play such a big role in the offense.

Remember, it was just two weeks ago that, despite scoring 16 points in a loss at Fresno State, he did it on 5-of-17 shooting, including a dreadful 1-of-11 clip from 3-point range.

So, was Jackson supposed to back off a bit? Or press forward even more aggressively when the team needed it?

That can be debated, but here’s what the stats say happened: Jackson had scored in double figures 12 consecutive games between Dec. 18 and the Feb. 2 loss at Fresno State when he went 1-of-11 from deep.

In the past four games, his scoring output was: 4 points, 5 points, 9 points and then, on Saturday in the Fresno State rematch, Jackson had a career night.

Jackson’s stat line on Saturday: 30 points, 4-9 on 2-point shots, 4-6 on 3-point shots, 10-of-11 on free throws, 8 rebounds in 32 minutes. He also had the best plus/minus number of any Lobo at plus-5, which means in the minutes he was on the floor, UNM outscored Fresno State by five.

If UNM outscored Fresno State by five in the 32 minutes that Jackson was on the floor, that means it was outscored by 13 in the eight minutes he was on the bench. Those are results hard to ignore, and it’s something Lobos head coach Paul Weir says he has been happy to see for Jackson because he has been working harder in practice over the past two weeks than any time this season.

“I thought it was great shot selection,” Weir said of Jackson on Saturday night.

The coach feels Jackson is at his best when his dribbling in the half court offense is kept to a minimum.

“At the end of the day,” Weir said, “when the ball hits the floor too many times, the shot percentages start to go down and I thought he was much more efficient with himself offensively tonight.”

Jackson felt the best part about Saturday’s loss was continued strides on defense.

“Despite the little defensive errors towards the end, I feel like our defense got so much better and I think our rebounding got better,” Jackson said. “We’ve been working on it all week. Our ball handling on offense just, things like that. I feel like we’re going to get better.”

And after the game, Jackson posted a message to Lobo fans on social media:

The gamer

Here’s the gamer I filed from the Pit on Saturday night:

Go away already!

Lobo fans will be more than happy to see Deshon Taylor’s eligibility run out next month. The Lobo killer has made a career out of being a thorn in the side of UNM, even before Paul Weir took over as coach.

Aside from being a Lobo fan favorite (ok, so he’s not the most popular of opposing players right now for a variety of reasons), Taylor is simply a guy who has found a way to produce big nights against the Paul Weir-coached and the Craig Neal-coached Lobs over the past three seasons.

Here are Taylor’s past six stat lines vs. the Lobos:

2018-19 season
• SATURDAY (Fresno State win): 26 points, 5-8 3s, 7-9 FTs, 5 assits, 3 steals
• Feb. 2 (Fresno State win): 20 points, 6-10 FTs, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals

2017-18 season
• March 3, 2018 (UNM win): 23 points, 10-12 FTs, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
• Jan. 13, 2018 (Fresno State win): 22 points, 3-5 3s, 9-12 FTs, 4 assists

2016-17 season
• *March 9, 2017 (Fresno State win): 21 pints, 3-8 3s, 8-8 FTs, 3 assists, 2 steals
• Feb. 18, 2017 (Fresno State win): 15 points, 4-5 3s, 3-4 FTs, 4 rebounds
*Mountain West Tournament

Lobos Love Pink

Saturday was UNM’s “Lobos Love Pink” cancer awareness game with a variety of initiatives being a part of the game and around the arena.

Here’s a look…

Assistant coach Jerome Robinson had a better look at the gear than I did…

A number to know: 7

Saturday was the seventh loss in the Pit this season. The Lobos are 7-7 in home games.

The most losses in the Pit was 12 in the 1979-80 season. There were eight losses in the 1994-95 season, but those came in a 20 home-game season, so it was packaged with 12 wins.

This season is now tied with several others with seven losses.

UNM has two games left in the Pit: March 2 vs. Colorado State and March 6 vs. Boise State.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta…

There was a Noodles sighting at Saturday’s Georgia Tech game (a loss to Florida State, the seventh consecutive loss for the Ramblin Wreck).

He said it

“Our staff found a spot for him, a little sweet spot in the zone and Deshon made some penetration and kicked to him and he knocked it down. He just wasn’t in rhythm in the first half because he was in and out of the game. Braxton can make shots.” — Fresno State coach Justin Hutson on senior guard Braxton Huggins, who scored all 19 of his points in the second half.

Meanwhile, in Fresno…

The outcome wasn’t much better for the UNM women’s basketball team in their road game at Fresno State.

Around the Mountain

There were five games in the Mountain West with five key ones coming up midweek (one on Tuesday, four on Wednesday):

SATURDAY
• Utah State 76, Air Force 62
• UNLV 71, San Jose State 64
• San Diego State 71, Boise State 65
• Fresno State 81, New Mexico 73
• No. 7 Nevada 82, Wyoming 49

TUESDAY
• UNLV at Wyoming, 8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
• Colorado State at San Jose State, 8 p.m.
• Air Force at Fresno State, 8 p.m.
• UNM at Utah State, 9 p.m.
• No. 7 Nevada at San Diego State, 9 p.m.

Mountain West standings

Through Saturday’s game, here are the MWC standings:
11-1 Nevada
10-3 Fresno State
10-3 Utah State
8-4 San Diego State
8-5 UNLV
6-7 Boise State
5-8 Air Force
5-8 New Mexico
4-8 Colorado State
2-10 Wyoming
0-12 San Jose State

A look ahead

Based on the game-by-game results predictor on the analytics website KenPom.com, here are what the Mountain West Tournament seeds and final records will look like with all applicable tie breakers being applied based on the predicted results:

• Top five get byes to quarterfinals:
1. Nevada 17-1
2. Fresno St 14-4
3. Utah St 14-4
4. UNLV 11-7
5. UNM 9-9

• Seeds 6-10 start in the play-in round
6. SDSU 9-9
7. Boise St 8-10
8. Colorado St 7-11
9. Air Force 6-12
10. Wyoming 4-14
11. San Jose St 0-18

My two cents

While the projected MWC seeding above would have the Lobos move all the way up to the 5 seed and avoid having to play an extra game, that’s not necessarily a good thing. And what’s more, it’s not what I think will happen.

First, why it won’t happen. San Diego State, mathematically, is only projected to win one of its final six games. I don’t buy it. The’ll finish better than 9-9. I do think the Lobos will lose Wednesday at Utah State and then close the regular season with four consecutive wins, to finish league play at 9-9, but I think they’ll be behind SDSU.

Now, why that may not be a bad thing.

There’s never been a MWC Tournament winner come out of the six seed since that has meant an extra game in the play-in round (there was a six-seed champion once, but when they started in the quarterfinals and it was an eight-team conference).

However, this is a unique season for the MWC. Nevada is that good and if you’re a 4 or 5 seed, you’re on the same side of the tournament bracket as Nevada and would face the Wolf Pack in the semifinals. If you “fall” to a six seed, you would have to play an extra game, but that might be a price worth paying to get on the other side of the bracket and avoid Nevada as long as possible.

Some pictures

Here is a link to the Journal’s photo gallery from Roberto E. Rosales: PHOTO GALLERY, Fresno State at UNM (Feb. 16, 2019)

Meanwhile, in Las Cruces

NMSU went all out on a Pack the Pan Am game and got a good announced turnout of 11,889 for the first-place Aggies, who had to raly from 13-points down to beat Seattle.

Announced attendance

The announced attendance on Saturday for Fresno State at UNM in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit: 12,494

It should be noted that attendance was helped greatly by the halftime Razzle Dazzle cheerleading performance, but those are all paying customers (the parents anyway), too. So good haul for UNM at the gate on Saturday.

Plus/minus

Here are the plus/minus stats from Saturday’s game for the Lobos with minutes played in parenthesis at the end. These are starting to show a troubling trend for the Lobos with who is at the bottom.

+5 Vance Jackson (31:50)
+4 Keith McGee (23:29)
+3 Vladimir Pinchuk (4:28)
-1 Drue Drinnon (16:27)
-4 Makuach Maluach (21:29)
-6 Carlton Bragg (24:08)
-8 Corey Manigault (24:47)
-16 Dane Kuiper (20:43)
-17 Anthony Mathis (32:39)

Final stat sheet

Here’s the final stat sheet from Saturday’s game:

Video: Postgame presser

My postgame presser video of Paul Weir as posted on the Journal’s Facebook page:

Grammer’s Guesses

The Guesses AND my daughter’s coin flip picks both went 3-2 on Saturday against the point spread, though we did have different picks in four of Saturday’s five games.

I’m now 37-31-1 ATS on the season and #TeamCoin is 32-36-1 ATS on the season. (I had her record wrong in the tweet below. The losses should have been 34, and she’s now at 36 losses… and still very much within striking distance to catch, and pass, her old man).

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