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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos get long-awaited win over big program

The UNM Lobos beat the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday in Brooklyn in the Legends Classic. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

BROOKLYN. N.Y. — Here are some extra quotes, notes, tweets, videos, stats and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Tuesday’s 59-50 UNM Lobos win over Wisconsin in the Barclays Center:

It’s been awhile

No matter how you spin it, Tuesday was a big win for the Lobos for a lot of reasons. One of them was it was a nationally-televised victory over a brand-name, power conference program. That just hasn’t happened for UNM in a long, long time.

Before Tuesday’s 59-50 win over the Big Ten’s Wisconsin in the Legends Classic, the last time UNM beat a Power 5 program in hoops was a Dec. 5, 2012 when it topped the Pac-12’s USC (75-67) in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit.

Or was it 2013?

While the “Power 5” tag was thrown around a lot on Tuesday night, it means little in basketball-specific discussions as the Big East’s basketball budgets and success (it’s ranked the No. 2 conference in the country right now on KenPom.com out of 32 leagues and is a better conference based on numbers than four of the power five leagues). So, Power 5 means something in football and athletic department talk in general because of football money, but in the world of just basketball, the “power conference” term is one I prefer. If you have to put a number on it, you can say it’s a “Power 6” structure. And, while the top of the AAC is nice, that league is not a power conference based on overall budget or success.

So…

The last time UNM beat a power conference program in my mind was Dec. 21, 2013, in a neutral court game at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., in a 75-68 win over the Buzz Williams-coached Marquette Golden Eagles of the Big East.

One reporter in the postgame press conference who doesn’t normally cover a non-power conference program, asked Lobos head coach Paul Weir if games like Tuesday were viewed in any way as a measuring stick.

Weir’s lengthy answer:

“I think every year that goes by the power five’s resources and support for the athletic departments only grows and grows, and I think us non-power fives kind of take on a David and Goliath, so to speak, where you’re just wowed with the things that they have.

“We’re doing the best we (can) with we have and anytime you have the opportunities to play these guys, you’re aware of those discrepancies. We see them in the hotels with the meals they get and the meals we get. It’s everyday.

“That’s great. It’s great to be a power five school and the opportunities and resources that are provided to those student athletes. We don’t quite have the same ones, but we’re blessed, nonetheless. We’re lucky to be in the program we have. We’re very thankful for the things we do have. And to go against, obviously, teams like this is an amazing opportunity for us.”

It’s also worth noting that this game wasn’t exactly sought out by the Lobos, but rather a make-good to backing out of a signed contract with the Gazelle Group in 2016 after agreeing to host a CBI postseason game. Instead of owing the $40,000 penalty for breaking the contract, UNM agreed to play in this tournament.

The gamer

Here is the game story I filed from the Barclays Center press room after Tuesday’s game:

Legends Classic championship game

No. 18 Auburn beat Richmond 79-65 in the Legends Classic championship game on Tuesday night after the Lobos game.

Legends Classic all-tournament team

No Lobos on the all-tournament team, which is a little surprising since Wisconsin, which went 0-2, got a player voted on the team.

All tournament team:
• MVP Austin Wiley, Aub
• Samir Doughty, Aub
• Jacob Gilyard, Rich
• Grant Golden, Rich
• Nate Reuvers, Wisc

I wasn’t one of the media members asked to vote. I’m not sure it was even a media vote. But I probably wouldn’t have picked a player from the 0-2 team unless his numbers blew me away, and Reuvers’ numbers didn’t do that.

He averaged 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 3.0 turnovers in the two games.

If there was a Lobo worthy, I submit J.J. Caldwell, who doesn’t score a ton every game so it’s hard for people not watching the games to know how well he’s playing by box score voting. His stat lines from each game:

• vs. Auburn: 2 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 turnovers, 4 steals
• vs. Wisconsin: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
• Overall: 7.0 ppg, 5-7 FG, 4.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, 3.5 to/pg, 2.0 spg

Happier fans

The Lobo fans who made the trip to new York this week, be it from Albuquerque or elsewhere, seemed much happier on Tuesday than they did on Monday for some reason…

He said it, part 1

“I think we’ll get back in our groove moving forward starting up from this game.” — UNM Lobos junior guard J.J. Caldwell

He said it, part 2

“We’re so far from our ceiling. We’ve got a lot of talented guys. A lot of good guys. I feel like personally, we’re only at about 30 percent out of 100. There’s so much we can accomplish with this unit.” — UNM junior guard Zane Martin

Meanwhile, at Cameron Indoor Arena…

Stephen F. Austin knocked off No. 1 Duke AT Duke on Tuesday night.

Which reminds me of something Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said at the league’s preseason media confernece in October.

A number to know: 2

Wisconsin hit two 3-pointers on Tuesday against UNM, a season low for the Big Ten team. And, considering they fired up 27 attempts from beyond the arc, the percentage was also a season low (7.7%).

That’s the worst 3-point shooting percentage for the Badgers since Nov. 21, 2003, in a 64-53 win over Penn when Wisconsin shot 1-for-14 from beyond the arc for a 7.1% clip.

For those counting at home, that’s a span of 563 games.

Around the Mountain

There were four games on Tuesday involving Mountain West teams and there are two more on Wednesday:

TUESDAY
• Colorado State 61, Loyola Chicago 60 (Caymen Islands Classic)
• UNLV 80, Jackson State 57
• New Mexico 59, Wisconsin 50 (Legends Classic)
• TCU 64, Wyoming 47 (MGM Resorts Main Event)

WEDNESDAY
• Colorado State vs. Washington State (Cayman Islands Classic)
• Oregon State vs. San Jose State (Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic)

‘Kool Katz’ coming

I was able to record a brief interview Tuesday night in the Barclays Center with Andy Katz, best known for his stint as the Lobos beat writer at the Albuquerque Journal in the early 1990s. He’s had some other stops along the way, I’m told, including a place called ESPN and he now works for NCAA.com, among other entities.

Anyway, the conversation doesn’t go too deep, but will be a part of Episode 23 of the Talking Grammer podcast, which I hope I can get posted on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on travel.

Katz, by the way, graduated from Wisconsin and his first beat reporting gig was at the Journal.

And as for what he was doing at the Barclays on Tuesday, work of course. He interviewed Lobo senior guard JaQuan Lyle after Tuesday’s game. Here’s a look…

Poll position

Two of the four teams in the Legends Classic main draw received votes: No. 18 Auburn and Wisconsin, which received four points — three from Louisville’s WDRB-TV sportscaster Rick Bovich picking the Badgers No. 23 on his ballot and one point from Tampa Bay Times reporter Joey Knight for his 25th place vote.

UNM received votes last week, but that went bye-bye after that one-possession road loss at UTEP.

Looking ahead to the next poll, which comes out Dec. 2, I’m guessing only Auburn will be receiving votes (they don’t play again until Dec. 5), but I’d be shocked if they don’t start making a steady climb up from their No. 18 spot.

Meanwhile, in Cancun…

The UNM Lobos women’s basketball team spent Tuesday relaxing in Cancun on their latest globetrotting stop.

In addition to Thursday and Friday’s Cancun Challenge games against Missouri and West Virginia, the women’s team had a 10-day oversees trip in the summer that had stops in Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice with games in three of those cities.

Up next for the Lobo globetrotters? Boise, Idaho, on Dec. 4.

UNM in MTEs

The November tournament circuit in college basketball are events commonly known as MTE (Multi-team exempt) tournaments.

UNM hasn’t exactly done well in the non-conference, neutral court setting for some time, or at least since it had Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams still getting buckets.

Here’s how UNM has done in non-conference/non-postseason neutral court games over the past decade:

• 2019-20: 1-1 Legends Classic (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
• 2018-19: 0-1 Hall of Fame Classic (Los Angeles)
• 2017-18: 0-2 Emerald Coast Clasic (Niceville, Fla.)
• 2016-17: 1-2 Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)
• 2015-16: 0-3 Diamond Head Classic (Hawaii)
• 2014-15: 1-2 Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Puerto Rico)
• 2013-14: 3-1 (2-1) Charleston Classic / (1-0) MGM Grand Showcase (Charleston, S.C.; Las Vegas, Nev.)
• 2012-13: 3-0 Paradise Jam (U.S. Virgen Islands)
• 2011-12: 2-1 76 Classic (Anaheim, Calif.)
• 2010-11: 1-1 Las Vegas Classic (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Total: 12-14

He said it, part 3

“I thought we were better in the second half. In the first half, we were not. I think mostly, give New Mexico some credit. But I thought our decisions in the first half, I thought we played too fast at times in terms of getting sped up — a few travels that are uncharacteristic of us that we have to get cleaned up. But we have to continue to reduce the number of turnovers.” –Wisconsin coach Greg Gard talking about his team’s turnover problem (they had 14 vs. the Lobos).

I believe this was the first time this season UNM’s opponent coach was trying to explain his team’s turnover issues.

Plus/minus

The always popular plus/minus stats are here, with minutes played in parenthesis:

+15 J.J. Caldwell (33:00)
+11 JaQuan Lyle (36:54)
+10 Carlton Bragg (31:28)
+8 Vance Jackson (27:39)
+5 Tavian Percy (6:53)
+3 Makuach Maluach (16:33)
-1 Keith McGee (9:34)
-3 Corey Manigault (15:21)
-3 Zane Martin (22:38)

Box score

Here is a picture of the final box score from Tuesday:

And if you want the HTML version, HERE.

Postgame video

Here is the postgame press conference of UNM guards J.J. Caldwell and Zane Martin and UNM coach Paul Weir, as posted to the Journal’s YouTube page:

Up next

Sunday: Montana at UNM, 1 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 770 AM/94.5 FM

Meanwhile, in the Cayman Islands…

The NMSU Aggies advanced to Wednesday’s Cayman Island title game against George Mason with Tuesday’s 65-45 win over South Florida.

Until next time…

There was a high school game being played in the Barclays after the Legends Classic was over, so I didn’t get my usual empty arena pic. But…

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