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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos lose on road to Wyoming

The Arena Auditorium in Laramie, Wyo., on March 9, 2019. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Here are some extra notes, quotes, news, tweets, videos or whatever other items I could find in the old notebook after Saturday’s 88-81 Wyoming win ofter the UNM Lobos in Laramie, Wyo.:

Something to Bragg about

I plan to go into more detail on Sunday evening (and for Monday’s print edition) on just how much Carlton Bragg has changed the identity of the Lobo basketball team lately, and especially his career game Saturday in Laramie, Wyo.

Both coaches also talked to me about the inability of Lobo guards to use the team’s best weapon and just get Bragg the ball more.

For now, just some numbers on Bragg’s big game:

• Bragg’s 22 point, 20 rebound game was the first time a Lobo player had a 20/20 game since Drew Gordon did so on Feb. 18, 2012, in a home game against UNLV (27 points, 20 rebounds).

• It was the first 20-game rebounding performance for a Lobo since Drew Gordon had 20 two times in the 2011-12 season and the most since Gordon had 23 in the 2010-11 season (Feb. 19, 2011, he had 23 vs. Utah).

• His 20 rebounds ties CSU’s Nico Carvacho for the most in a league game this season (Carvacho had 20 two times: Jan. 20 vs. UNLV and Saturday vs. UNLV, both losses, meaning all three 20 rebound games in MWC play this season came in losses).

• Bragg’s rebounding average in MWC games jumped to 9.8, good for third in the league. He entered Saturday’s final day ranked fifth in rebounding average.

• He has led the Lobos into becoming a very good rebounding team. UNM has out-rebounded its past four opponents, its only four-game streak of winning the battle of the boards this season. UNM’s only such four-game streak last season happened to be Feb. 28-March 9, a four-game win streak. This year, the team has gone 2-2 in the four-game rebounding streak from Feb. 26 – March 9.

The gamer

Here was the gamer I filed from the Arena Auditorium on Saturday night in Laramie:

The road to Laradise

After getting texts and messages on social media from friends in Laramie and Albuquerque who were starting to see roads into Laramie closing down due to windy, icy conditions and a series of pretty serious accidents, I figured I better hit the road early.

Interstate 80 west from Cheyenne to Laramie was closed.

Highway 287 from Fort Collins north to Laramie, the most beautiful drive in the Mountain West, was closed.

But no way was I going to miss the all important 7-10 UNM at 3-14 Wyoming game on Saturday.

So, after a couple calls, I found out there was a more commonly used road north of Cheyenne called Happy Jack Road. Of course the WYDOT website said that, too, was closed, but I gave it a try anyway.

Long story short, I made it with plenty of time to spare thanks to the old Happy Jack secret (that isn’t a secret at all to those in Laramie).

Unfortunately, that did nothing for the hundreds of travelers stuck on I-80, including Wyoming assistant coach Shaun Vandiver and two parents of Jordan Naughton, one of two Cowboys seniors being honored on Saturday for the team’s final home game of the season. All three (the Naughton parents and Vandiver) were on the “green line” shuttle from Denver International Airport to Laramie, which couldn’t get to Laramie.

That is until longtime, and well-known Mountain West referee Dave Hall came to save the day. Hall, who was given police clearance to drive through the road block on Interstate 80 west from Cheyenne to get to the game, gave Naughton’s parents, and Vandiver, a ride in his SUV.

The Naughtons made it in time for the pregame Senior Game ceremonies.

As for the Lobos, yeah, they were fine. They chartered into Laramie and their bus ride from hotel to arena was about a quarter mile.

Here is them arriving at the arena.

He said it

“Hey, Wyoming was better. Hopefully they’re not going to be better when we play them again.” — UNM head coach Paul Weir

The two teams play again Wednesday in the MWC Tournament.

A number to know: 102

Lobos senior Anthony Mathis hit two 3-pointers on Saturday, giving him 102 for the season and tying him with Kevin Henry (1998-99) for the Lobos’ all-time single season record.

Here was the tying 3…

Another number to know: 18

The Lobos scored 18 second chance points off 16 offensive rebounds on Saturday. Wyoming, which ranks 353 out of 353 Division I teams in offensive rebounding, had two second chance points off three offensive rebounds.

Cotton Eyed Joe!

You can’t go to a game in Laramie without the Cotton Eyed Joe at the under 12-minute timeout in the second half…

Meanwhile, in Reno…

Back to back to back.

The Nevada Wolf Pack has now won three consecutive Mountain West titles, albeit this one shared with Utah State. Still, what Eric Musselman and his band of 40-year-old seniors have been able to accomplish is nothing short of remarkable in the 20-year history of this league.

Here’s a look at the three fifth-year seniors for Nevada who really took this thing to the next level – Cody Martin (past two seasons), Caleb Martin (past two seasons) and Jordan Caroline (three seasons) — checking out of the game for the final time in the Lawlor Events Center:

Around the Mountain

There were five games on Saturday around the Mountain West:
• UNLV 65, Colorado State 60
• Wyoming 88, New Mexico 81
• Boise State 80, Air Force 52
• Fresno State 121, San Jose State 81
• No. 17 Nevada 81, San Diego State 53

Final 2019 Mountain West standings

Here are the final standings in the MWC this season:

t1. Nevada 15-3
t1. Utah St 15-3
3. Fresno St 13-5
t4. San Diego St 11-7
t4. UNLV 11-7
6. Air Force 8-10
t7. New Mexico 7-11
t7. Colorado St 7-11
t7. Boise St 7-11
10. Wyoming 4-14
11. San Jose St 1-17

By the numbers

In 20 seasons of Mountain West basketball, the UNM Lobos have had:

• 11 winning MWC records
• 2 .500 MWC records
• 7 losing MWC records

This season’s 7-11 (.389) matches 2015 record, though that team was an 8 seed UNM is a 7 this season.

Three MWC seasons had a worse winning percentage than this season for UNM.

The MWC Tournament

Here’s the MWC Tournament info by day with a tweet that has a picture of a pretty bracket beneath (times listed are Mountain, not local time in Las Vegas, Nev., where the games will be played):

WEDNESDAY
(games streamed on TheMW.com)
• No. 8 Colorado State vs No. 9 Boise State, noon
• No. 7 New Mexico vs No. 10 Wyoming, 2:30 p.m.
• No. 6 Air Force vs No. 11 San Jose State, 5 p.m.

THURSDAY
(Games televised on CBS Sports Network)
• No. 1 Nevada vs CSU/BSU winner, 1 p.m.
• No. 4 San Diego State vs No. 5 UNLV, 3:30 p.m.
• No. 2 Utah State vs UNM/Wyoming winner, 7 p.m.
• No. 3 Fresno State vs Air Force/SJSU winner, 9:30 p.m.

FRIDAY
(Games televised on CBS Sports Network)
• Semifinal 1, 7 p.m.
• Semifinal 2, 9:30 p.m.

SATURDAY
(Televised on CBS Sports)
• Championship, 4 p.m.

Close, not so close

KenPom.com tracks “blowouts” for each of the 32 conferences in the country. He defines those as conference games with an outcome of 19 or more points.

The MWC was easily in the lead earlier this season with blowout after blowout after blowout. The Lobos alone were involved in five “blowouts” in their 18 league games (three wins, two losses).

But the league calmed down in February and had fallen to third in the blowout category.

Until the final three games of the season on Saturday: a Boise State 28 point win over Air Force, a 40-point Fresno State win over San Jose State and a 28 point Nevada win over San Diego State.

The Mountain West reclaimed the lead as the regular season ended, posting 26 blowouts in 99 league games played (26.3 percent).

On the flip side, the MWC also ranked dead last among the 32 leagues in “close” games, decided by 3 or fewer points or games that went to overtime. The MWC had just 15 “close” games out of 99 (15.2 percent).

The legend of Papa Shy!

Long before Paul Weir went with the red sweater look, Larry Shyatt roamed the sidelines in a yellow sweater with the Wyoming Cowboys.

And now, his grandson is carrying on the tradition!

Postgame interview

Here is the postgame interview Paul Weir had with the Journal on Saturday after the game, as posted to the Journal’s Facebook page:

Plus/minus stats

Here are Saturday’s plus/minus stats for the UNM Lobos with minutes played in parenthesis:

0 Carlton Bragg (31)
0 Drue Drinnon (12)
-1 Vladimir Pinchuk (5)
-2 Dane Kuiper (18)
-4 Corey Manigault (18)
-4 Keith McGee (20)
-5 Anthony Mathis (35)
-8 Vance Jackson (29)
-9 Makuach Maluach (33)

Final stat sheet

The picture of the final stat sheet here…

And the link to a digital version here… Wyoming 88, New Mexico 81

Meanwhile, in Golden, Colo., …

Congratulations to former UNM assistant Craig Snow and the New Mexico Highlands University men’s basketball team for winning the program’s first-ever Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament title on Saturday night in Golden, Colo.

Snow, the head coach and athletic director at NMHU, led the No. 7 seeded Cowboys to three consecutive comfortable wins over the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seed in the tournament and will now play in the South Central NCAA Regional of the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Streaking

The Lobos carried a five game streak into last year’s Mountain West Tournament and won two more to get to the tourney title game.

The other hottest team last year was SDSU, carrying a six-game win streak into the tourney before winning three more (a total nine game streak) to get to the NCAA Tournament.

This season, the Utah State Aggies have a longer streak than both of those. USU has won seven in a row.

Here’s a look at all the streaks entering the league tournament:

Grammer’s Guesses

Put me out of my misery already!

The Guesses go 2-3 Saturday and just 47-50-2 against the spread on the season, a far cry from 60-45-4 last year.

My daughter’s #TeamCoin picks that beat me in 2018 (64-41-4) went 4-1 on Saturday, but just 44-53-2 on the season.

I guess there’s always last year…

Until next time

Until next time, Arena Auditorium in Laramie, Wyo., …

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