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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos fall at UTEP

Don Hakins Center in El Paso, Texas, on Nov. 19, 2019. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

EL PASO — Here are some of the extra notes, quotes, stats, videos and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Tuesday’s 66-63 UTEP win over the UNM Lobos at the Don Haskins Center:

End of half breakdowns

JaQuan Lyle sank two free throws with eight seconds left in the first half, giving the UNM Lobos a 30-28 lead.

UNM coach Paul Weir called a timeout to set up the Lobos defense.

Well, it didn’t exactly work out all that well for the Lobos. The Miners went the length of the floor and, at the back end, 6-foot-9 Corey Manigault left his Efe Odigie alone under the rim to stop the penetrating Souley Boum, who dished it to Odigie for the layup just before the buzzer to tie the game at 30-30.

Here was my view of the play…

Now let’s fast forward to the final minute of the game.

UNM actually largely got what it wanted on the decisive defensive possession, until UTEP’s Jordan Lathan late in the clock drove to his right (that was on the UNM scouting report to not let him go right). After a switch, 6-9 Corey Manigault is defending Lathan and forcing a tough 17-foot jump shot. Manigault didn’t leave his feet to contest and Lathan sank the eventual game winner for a 64-63 lead with 27 seconds left.

Here’s a look…

But that wasn’t all for the final minute.

Here’s the less-than-successful final full offensive possession for the UNM Lobos, which ends with Makuach Maluach missing a 3-pointer, but was clearly doomed before he ever touched the ball after JaQuan Lyle got caught up in no-mans land after letting the clock run down.

Here’s a look…

But wait, there’s more!

After a pair of free throws from Bryson Williams made it 66-63, the Lobos had the ball with 1.9 seconds left and having to go the length of the floor. Lyle got a good look and sank a half court shot that would have sent the game into overtime, but the referees, after a look at the video, correctly determined the ball was still in his hands at the buzzer. It is unclear if they ever reviewed whether the clock started early or upon his couch for the final 1.9 seconds.

Again, from my courtside vantage point, a look…

So, yeah. Not a great highlight reel of end of half execution. The first half defense wasn’t a bad call if executed, the end of game offensive possession was pretty bad if that’s what was supposed to happen, and then the halfcourt 3 is about the best you can expect in that situation, short of getting the ball shot sooner, of course.

The gamer

Here was the gamer I filed in the Don after the game and sent back to Albuquerque…

New Mexico state champs?

The Miners haven’t left the Don Haskins Center yet this season, but have pretty much already wrapped up the New Mexico state basketball championship.

UTEP’s first four games:

• Beat D-II New Mexico Highlands (93-70)
• Beat New Mexico State (65-50)
• Beat D-II Eastern New Mexico (71-57)
• Beat New Mexico (66-63)

Those bunnies

The Lobos miss LAYUPS.

Lots of them.

In fact, based on how the UTEP statistician tracked Tuesday’s game, the Lobos missed six second half LAYUPS, including three in a 30 second span.

Just cut six missed LAYUPS down to four missed LAYUPS and the outcome is different.

The time left in the game for each of the Lobos six missed LAYUPS in the second half:

• 13:51 – missed layup, JaQuan Lyle
• 11:27 – missed layup, Corey Manigault
• 7:03 – missed layup, Carlton Bragg
• 5:31 – missed layup, J.J. Caldwell
• 5:21 – missed layup, Makuach Maluach
• 5:01 – missed layup, Carlton Bragg

So bad were the missed layups, former Lobos watching online from Japan chimed in on Twitter…

Free throws, too…

The Lobos also left 11 points at the charity stripe, going 20-of-31 on free throws in the game.

It’s actually something that has happened now twice to New Mexico schools in the Don Haskins Center this season.

Just counting the two Division I games played (KenPom.com doesn’t actually count statistics from non-Division I games), UTEP’s free throw defense ranks fourth in the country out of 353 Division I teams. Opposing teams (so far, that means just NMSU and UNM) are shooting just 52.4% from the free throw line (NMSU was 2-of-11 and UNM was 20-of-31).

Bragg’s knee

Carlton Bragg hurt his right knee on Tuesday night when Lathan kicked his leg out and was called for a flagrant 1 foul for flopping (or, more specifically in this case, kicking his leg out and making contact with Bragg trying to draw a foul). That is a point of emphasis for officials this season (McNeese State was called for a flop in Saturday’s game against the Lobos in the Pit).


Bragg was helped off the court and did not return to the game.

After the game, UNM Lobos coach Paul Weir said he had not yet been updated on Bragg’s status, but as the 6-foot-10 big man left the locker room and walked by me on his own power with an ice bag on the right knee, I asked how it was. He said he’d be fine, although I’m not entirely sure that he’d say anything else in that situation.

So, we’ll see how he is Thursday night at the NMSU game. Wednesday’s Lobos practice is closed to media, reporters were informed on Tuesday night.

Attendance

Attendance in the Don hasn’t been very good in a long, long time. That’s part of the rebuild former Fresno State coach Rodney Terry is working on now in his second season coaching UTEP.

Tuesday’s announced attendance for UNM at UTEP: 6,171

I’ll say this, though, down the stretch in the second half the arena was as loud as I’ve heard the Pit through most of the first four games this season. It got especially loud when a Lobo was shooting free throws and the crowd gets free Chik-fil-A if an opposing player misses both free throws.

He said it (kinda)

OK, so he didn’t say it, but after Tuesday’s game, JaQuan Lyle tweeted this…

Had you told me…

• Had you told me the Lobos would out-rebound UTEP 36-31 and 9-6 on the offensive boards…
• play their best defense of the season, holding the Miners to 42.9 percent shooting and 0.904 points per possession, their lowest of the season…
• hold star forward Bryson Williams to just 9 points…
• and tie or have the edge in scoring in the paint (24-24), points off turnovers (UNM 26, UTEP 21), second chance points (UNM 14, UTEP 11), fast break points (6-6) and bench scoring (14-14)…

… I would have said the Lobos would probably win the game.

Then again, I really didn’t think UNM’s offense would miss 30 shots (19-of-49 from the field), miss 14 3-pointers (5-of-19) and miss 11 free throws (20-of-31 for 64.5 percent).

Meanwhile, earlier in the day…

Tuesday actually featured two UNM/UTEP games in the Don.

In the afternoon game, the UNM Lobos women’s team had no problems picking up the road win, beating UTEP 93-78.

Here is colleague Ken Sickenger’s write up from El Paso…

Around the Mountain

There were three Mountain West men’s hoops games on Tuesday night and six more on Wednesday night:

TUESDAY
• Davidson 91, Nevada 71
• Wyoming 76, Detroit 49
• UTEP 66, New Mexico 63

WEDNESDAY
• BYU at Boise State, 8 p.m. MT
• Texas State at UNLV, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT 
• Grambling State at San Jose State, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT 
• Fresno State vs. No. 20 Saint Mary’s (in Sacramento), 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT
• San Diego State at San Diego, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT 

Video: Paul Weir after game

Here is the video of Paul Weir’s postgame comments to media after Tuesday’s game.

Plus/minus

The always popular plus/minus numbers for the Lobos from Tuesday’s game with minutes played in parenthesis:

+13 Corey Manigault (18)
+7 Zane Martin (22)
+5 Keith McGee (14)
0 JaQuan Lyle (37)
-1 Makuach Maluach (30)
-6 J.J. Caldwell (30)
-16 Vance Jackson (22)
-17 Carlton Bragg (27)

Box score

Here’s the tweet I sent out after the game with the final box score…

And if you’d like the link to the electronic version, HERE you go.

What do the computers think?

Both the expert oddsmakers in Las Vegas and the predictive formula used by KenPom.com pretty much called the outcome on Tuesday, even if it seems to have come to a shock to some Lobo fans.

UTEP closed as a 2-point favorite when Las Vegas when the game started and KenPom.com predicted UTEP to win by two points.

What does all that mean? Tuesday’s outcome didn’t actually change the computer rankings much since it pretty much went as expected and wasn’t a blowout either way. UNM entered the game ranked 91 in KenPom.com and dropped just to 92. UTEP moved up from 109 to 108.

Up next

Thursday: UNM at NMSU, 7 p.m., 770 AM/94.5 FM, AggieVision

Until next time…

Until next time, Don Haskins Center…

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