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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos end season with loss to Utah State

The Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., after the March 24 quarterfinal round of the 2019 Mountain West Tournament. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Here are some extra stats, tweets, news, notes, quotes and whatever else I could find in the old notebook after Thursday’s 91-83 UNM Lobos loss to Utah State in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals:

An official statement

Thursday night won’t help the insecurity of Lobo fans who insist Mountain West officials have long since had it out for the UNM program.

Especially not after the Lobos held a slight lead in the Pit earlier this season that evaporated on a Utah State game winner after a blown call (the Mountain West sent out a memo acknowledging it was a blown call) led to the Aggies taking over possession for the game winner with 31 seconds (they still would have had possession even without the call, but the Lobos may have had a chance to shoot free throws, score, or at the very least shave off another 20-plus seconds off the clock).

In Thursday’s game, Paul Weir was called for a technical for walking out of the coaching box to argue a call during a timeout when the coaching box rule actually isn’t in effect (but Weir was well past half court and should have known better).

Utah State shot 45 free throws to just 21 for UNM, a team that entered the game leading the Mountain West in percentage of points scored per game from the free throw line.

Carlton Bragg, again, was fouled out of a game he hardly seemed to play (he played just 13 minutes on Thursday).

Here was the play that fouled Bragg out:

And the play Weir was arguing when he earned his technical foul — an untimely one that came when the Lobos had an eight-point lead and the technical led to a four-point swing with two technical foul shots and a layup on the ensuing possession:

First, the technical. Here was how Weir described the situation when asked after the game about it:

“There was a timeout in play,” Weir said. “So, the play was over. So, I kept going on the court. And he gave me a T for being outside of my box. I didn’t think because the game wasn’t going on that the box still existed. But I guess it does. I don’t know the exact rule on that. Maybe he’s right. I wasn’t trying to get one. I was just voicing my displeasure on a play. I think coaches get that way a lot.

“Do I think that was the right time and place for that call to be made? Probably not. But, hey, it’s the call and I have to live with it. How much it impacted the game, I don’t know. We were obviously up at the time. I’d like to say six, maybe eight, something like that.

“It could have had one (an impact), I guess. But I think those plays down the stretch in the last two, three minutes to me were much more kind of pivotal.”

And what about the foul discrepancy in general?

Here’s how Weir tried to navigate the mine field of basking the officiating without getting a fine:

“It is what it is. (Neemias) Queta has earned the right for those calls. (Sam) Merrill has earned the right for those calls. They’re great players on a great team and they earn the right to kind of get the calls they do. Carlton, I love him to death. Our guys, I love them to death. They just haven’t earned that credibility yet to get those 50/50 breaks with officials.”

Gamer

Here was the gamer I filed from the media room Thursday night in Las Vegas…

A number to know: 24

The Lobos brought back the press this week and on Thursday it led to 24 forced turnovers against Utah State, including 15 in the first half.

The Aggies entered the game averaging 12.4 turnovers per game.

He said it: UNM edition

“At the end of the day, it was Chuck Daly, shooting makes up for a multitude of sins; if you really look at our year, the reality is we just didn’t shoot the ball well. And last year I think we had six guys, 35 percent or above from three. And this year we had two. And I didn’t anticipate that. I don’t think those players anticipated that.” — UNM head coach Paul Weir when asked about the specific on-court troubles of the season.

‘Pit West’ was alive

The Lobos still draw the largest fan contingent in the Mountain West Tournament, especially considering this year’s two Lobo games were an afternoon play-in game and a quarterfinal game.

Here is an article I wrote on the Lobo fans, through thick and thin, showing up for their team, including a marriage proposal, an overnight drive to Las Vegas and a bucket list that including a couple of retired buddies seeing every Lobos game this season, home and on the road:

The marketing folks at UNM, meanwhile, posted Thursday night this thank you video with only footage from this week in Las Vegas:

Meanwhile, at the Orleans

The New Mexico State Aggies beat Chicago State 86-49 on Thursday in the WAC quarterfinals in the Orleans.

NMSU plays the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in Friday’s semifinals.

Around the Mountain

There were four quarterfinal games in the Mountain West on Thursday and two semifinal games will be played Friday.

THURSDAY:
• No. 1 Nevada 77, No. 8 Boise State 69
• No. 4 San Diego State 63, No. 5 UNLV
• No. 2 Utah State 91, No. 7 New Mexico 83
• No. 3 Fresno State 76, No. 6 Air Force 50

FRIDAY:
• Semifinal 1: No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 4 San Diego State, 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT
• Semifinal 2: No. 2 Utah State vs. No. 3 Fresno State, 8:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. MT

He said it, Fresno State edition

“He’s a great man. He’s a better man than he is a coach. And he’s a really good coach. So I was happy I had a chance to work for him and learn from him.” — Fresno State coach Justin Hutson when asked about the fact that three one time assistant coaches of Steve Fisher, the longtime San Diego State head coach, coached teams in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

The coaches from the Fisher coaching tree who coached in Thursday’s MWC quarterfinals were Hutson (Fresno State), Brian Dutcher (San Diego State) and Marvin Menzies (UNLV). Two of them — Hutson and Dutcher — are in Friday’s semifinals and could meet up in Saturday’s championship game.

Speaking of Menzies

Every year at the tournament, there is coach hiring/firing buzz and gossip. This year, the belief by many around the media room was that former NMSU head coach and current UNLV head coach Marvin Menzies coached his final game with the Runnin’ Rebels on Thursday despite the team’s record improving each of the past two seasons since they finished dead last as the No. 11 seed in his first year has head coach.

Whether or not Menzies is or isn’t done at UNLV, at least this fan was making it clear he wants Becky Hammon, the former Colorado State star women’s basketball player who is now an NBA assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, to get the gig in Sin City.

He said it: Nevada edition

“First of all, we stunk for 12 minutes. It was hard to watch. I would have rather gone to the dentist and gotten some teeth pulled than watch us on both sides of the ball.” — Nevada head coach Eric Musselman

Meanwhile, in Italy…

Former Lobo Antino Jackson just wanted some updates…

Mountain West Tournament records: UNM edition

Here are the records of all five UNM Lobos coaches in the Mountain West era (20 seasons):
• Steve Alford 8-4 (.667)
• Paul Weir 3-2 (.600)
• Craig Neal 3-3 (.500)
• Ritchie McKay 3-4 (.429)
• Fran Fraschilla 2-3 (.400)

Plus/minus

Here are the plus/minus stats for the Lobos from Thursday’s quarterfinals loss to Utah State with minutes played in parentheses:

+1 Carlton Bragg (13)
0 Drue Drinnon (17)
-1 Vance Jackson (35)
-1 Tavian Percy (1)
-6 Dane Kuiper (24)
-6 Anthony Mathis (37)
-6 Corey Manigault (21)
-6 Vladimir Pinchuk (10)
-7 Keith McGee (14)
-11 Makuach Maluach (29)

Final stat sheet

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

And if you want the digital version: Utah State 91, New Mexico 83

Grammer’s Guesses

The Guesses went 2-2 on Thursday and are now 5-2 in the Mountain West Tournament.

It’s been fun…

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