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Emptying the Notebook: Lyle foul out no problem vs. Air Force

Lobos senior guard JaQuan Lyle reacts after being fouled in the second half Saturday against Air Force with teammate Carlton Bragg, left, and Makuach Maluach, right, nearby. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Here are some extra notes, quotes, tweets, stats, videos and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Saturday’s 84-78 UNM win over Air Force:

Crying foul

JaQuan Lyle fouled out of Saturday’s game, which led both to some nervous moments down the stretch for Lobo fans and coaches, but also opened the door for Zane Martin to have his best game as a Lobo as he was forced to carry the point guard role in crunch time.

In the long run, since the Lobos won and improved to 15-3 overall and 4-1 in Mountain West play, UNM coach Paul Weir said it was a good thing that happened on Saturday so the rest of the team knows it can do it down the stretch without Lyle. As Weir noted, there is some satisfaction knowing the team won without Lyle or the struggling Vance Jackson, the two stars of the past two Lobo wins.

“It’s a testament to our team that we’re on the court in a really big game and I look down at our bench and I see JaQuan and Vance sitting on the bench,” said Weir. “We have great players here and I know JaQuan obviously gets a lot of amazing attention, and he deserves all of it. Vance has gotten some recently. But there’s a lot of other great players on this team, too. Zane is one of them.”

So, as the game story in Sunday’s Journal that was also posted online Saturday evening focused on, Martin was probably the biggest beneficiary of Lyle’s foul out in that he was asked to carry the team down the stretch and delivered.

Three of Lyle’s five fouls were offensive fouls accounting for three of his five turnovers.

“I just feel like guys are sliding under me, or whatever it may be, at the last minute,” Lyle said.

Whatever the reason for Saturday’s calls, history would suggest the Lobos don’t have to worry about it happening too often in the future.

Saturday was Lyle’s first foul out in his 84-game college career. In fact, Lyle has only reached four fouls in a game five times in that 84-game career (66 at Ohio State, 18 at New Mexico).

Lyle, who did draw nine fouls on Saturday, was playing aggressive and it shows in his statline of 20 points, four assists and five turnovers. He has actually played pretty well in his past high-foul games, as well.

Here are the six games in his career with four or more fouls:

• 5 fouls (Saturday vs. Air Force): 20 points, 4 assists, 5 turnovers
• 4 fouls (Dec. 1 vs. Montana): 16 points, 3 assists, 5 turnovers

Ohio State
• 4 fouls (Jan. 22, 2017 vs. Northwestern): 13 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers
• 4 fouls (Jan. 8, 2017 at Minnesota): 12 points, 6 assists, 2 turnovers
• 4 fouls (Dec. 6, 2016 vs. Fla. Atlantic): 10 points, 9 assists, 3 turnovers
• 4 fouls (Nov. 20, 2015 vs. UT-Arlington): 15 points, 8 assists, 3 turnovers

Lyle in the six games with four or more fouls:
• Points: 14.3 ppg
• Assists: 5.7 apg
• Turnovers: 4.4 TO/game

The gamer

As alluded to above, the gamer I filed from the Pit and published in Sunday’s print edition was Zane Martin heavy. Here is the version I filed Saturday night:

The dirty dozen

UNM is 12-0 in the Pit this season, tying the longest unbeaten streak at home to start a season for the Lobos since the Mountain West Conference began in the 1999-2000 season.

The only other 12-0 start at home for UNM in the Mountain West era was 2005-06, when the Lobos lost their next home game to BYU.

• 12-0: Present (Game 13 at home: Jan. 21 vs. San Jose State)
• 12-0: 2005-06 (Game 13 at home: Loss, 77-71, to BYU)

UNM’s overall Pit win streak is now at 14 in a row, having won its final two home games last season, as well.

More about the wins…

UNM’s 15-3 overall record is one of the best

UNM’s best records through 18 games (Mountain West era):

• 16-2 (2012-13)
• 15-3 (2019-20)*
• 15-3 (2011-12)
• 15-3 (2009-10)
• 14-4 (2013-14)
• 14-4 (2007-08)
• 14-4 (2004-05)
*Current team

Of the past six teams to start with at least 14 wins through 18 games, five made the NCAA Tournament and one (2007-08) made the NIT.

Closing time

Just like we all expected. The Lobos defense sealing the deal with defense down the stretch. This play was with under two minutes remaining with Air Force down just 74-71.

A number to know: 30

The Lobos allowed Air Force to score 30 points in the final 10 minutes of the game on Saturday, or the final “quarter” of the game. UNM hadn’t given up more than 27 points in a “quarter” yet this season.

Yes, they scored 26 points and held the Falcons, a very good offensive team, off enough to get the 84-78 win, but 30 points in 10 minutes is never a good thing.

“They made some baskets down the stretch I’d like to have back,” UNM coach Paul Weir said. “But for 36, 37 minutes, I thought it might have been our best defense since Wisconsin. I thought we were engaged. We gave up a few too many backdoors than I would have liked, but overall, I thought we executed our defensive game plan perfectly against a very good team.”

As you might know by now, I like paying attention to score by “quarters,” even though men’s college basketball is the only place in the basketball world where the game is broken down by two halves instead of four equal quarters. Youth basketball, high school, college (women’s), international, professional, etc. All by quarters. Just not men’s college basketball.

Here was Saturday’s score by quarters:

• First 10 minutes: AFA 16, UNM 15
• Second 10 minutes: UNM 22, AFA 18 (37-34, UNM)
• Third 10 minutes: UNM 21, AFA 13 (58-48, UNM)
• Fourth 10 minutes: AFA 30, UNM 26 (84-78, UNM)

UNM has had its best scoring differential this season in the “third quarter” of games (halftime to the 10 minute mark of the second half) and generally scores its most in the final 10 minutes/”fourth quarter” as teams either get in foul trouble, send the Lobos to the line a lot or are generally just running out of gas.

Saturday, that wasn’t the case. Air Force hit three of its eight 3-pointers in the game in the final 5:12 of the game and, as criticized as JaQuan Lyle is for his defense at times this season, it seemed the Lobos overall played pretty poor defense late whether with him on the bench or on the court playing in a way to protect himself from picking up his fifth foul.

Lobo opponents highest scoring “quarters” of the season against UNM:

• 27 Auburn, 3rd quarter (L, Nov. 25 in Brooklyn)
• 27 Houston Baptist, 2nd quarter (W, Dec. 22, the Pit)
• 26 Grand Canyon, 4th quarter (W, Dec. 17, the Pit)
• 25 San Jose State, 2nd quarter (L, Jan. 1, San Jose, Calif.)
• 25 Houston Baptist, 4th quarter (W, Dec. 22, the Pit)
• 24 New Mexico State, 1st quarter (W, Nov. 21, Las Cruces)

Oh, say can you…

The Pit crowd took care of the singing for Saturday’s National Anthem as it was getting hit out of the park with a harmonica rendition…

Missing McGee

Junior guard Keith McGee was, again, the life of the bench party on Saturday for the Lobos with his celebrations on the Lobos bench. But he did not play.

After missing six days of practice due to a death in the family, he might not have played much anyway, but it seems he was benched Saturday for disciplinary reasons.

“As far as tonight, that was a punctuality issue,” Lobos coach Paul Weir said. “Nothing more than that. The kid’s just working on his punctuality.”

Meanwhile, in Logan…

Utah State, which lost earlier in the week by 19 to the same Air Force Falcons team the Lobos held off by six on Saturday, got the bounce back game it needed Saturday, leading wire to wire and beating Nevada.

Did know?

Nevada coach Steve Alford left UNM in 2013, the year before San Jose State and Utah State joined the league.

Nevada lost on the road to both SJSU and Utah State in the past week, making the Spartans and Aggies the only two teams in the Mountain West Alford has coached against but not beaten.

He has yet to beat, or play, the Lobos. Nevada hosts UNM on Jan. 25.

Around the Mountain

There was a full slate of five Mountain West games on Saturday and the midweek games will be split with two on Tuesday and three on Wednesday:

• Colorado State 81, San Jose State 70
• New Mexico 84, Air Force 78
• UNLV 78, Wyoming 69 (OT)
• Utah State 80, Nevada 70
• San Diego State 83, Boise State 65

• Wyoming at Nevada
• San Diego State at Fresno State

• New Mexico at Colorado State
• San Jose State at UNLV
• Boise State at Air Force

Meanwhile, at the Academy

The Lobos women’s team snapped its 0-4 losing streak in league play on Saturday, beating Air Force on the road at Clune Arena…

Here’s the story in Sunday’s Journal on the women’s road game:

Talking Grammer, Ep. 25

I posted a podcast on Saturday of a conversation with Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich on what it’s like coaching at a service academy, some memories about coaching against the Lobos and a lot more.

You can give a listen here or on iTunes:

He said it, Part 1

“I really don’t have no words for that. I kind of surprised myself. When I jumped, I realized I was high enough to dunk it, so I just tried it because I knew I was at least going to get fouled. It just went down.”— UNM senior guard JaQuan Lyle on his second half dunk, which also drew a foul and earned him a 3-point play.

He said it, Part 2

“No.”— UNM junior guard Zane Martin when asked if he thought Lyle could dunk before that play.

Photo gallery

The great Roberto E. Rosales has a 49-image photo gallery available from Saturday’s game: CLICK HERE

Box score

Here’s the final stat sheet passed out on media row after the game:

That’s so Burque

In what might be my favorite public address announcement ever, Dylan Storm had this one-two punch on Saturday thanks to somebody leaving their car running:

Air Force 3s

Air Force entered Saturday’s game No. 3 in the nation in 3-point FG%, hitting 41.5% from beyond the arc.

Saturday, the Lobos’ length bothered the Falcons on the perimeter and getting clean looks seemed to only be happening from four to five feet beyond the arc.

Air Force shot just 8-of-28 (28.6%) from 3-point range with two of those 3s coming in the final four minutes as the Lobos were leading and just trying to kill clock as much as anything.

Video: Weir, Lyle and Martin

Here’s the video I took of the postgame press conference on Saturday with UNM Lobos coach Paul Weir and players JaQuan Lyle and Zane Martin:


The announced crowd for Saturday’s game in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit: 11,014

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