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Emptying the Notebook: CSU hands UNM one of five worst Lobo losses I’ve covered

Colorado State University’s Moby Arena on Jan. 15, 2020, in Fort Collins, Colo. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Here are a few extra notes, quotes, stats, videos, tweets and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook from Wednesday night’s 105-72 Colorado State win over the UNM Lobos in Fort Collins:

Worst five losses

This is not a ranking. And these aren’t necessarily the most heartbreaking for Lobo fans type of losses that I’ve covered.

These are just five times, in chronological order, I recall seeing the Lobos just thoroughly dominated, for a variety of reasons, in the eight seasons I’ve covered UNM hoops for the Journal:

San Diego State 55, No. 17 New Mexico 34

Jan. 26, 2013 (San Diego)
• KenPom pregame prediction: SDSU by 3 (66-63)

A nationally-ranked Lobos team with the Mountain West Player of the Year (Kendall Williams) and three future NBA players (Alex Kirk, Cameron Bairstow and Tony Snell) were held to the program’s lowest field goal percentage (25.0%) in a half century and posted a KenPom era low 0.57 points per possession (the next lowest in 600-plus Lobo games was 0.67 ppp).

Yes, the final margin was just 21 points, but in a 60 possession game, that’s plenty. I’ve never seen the Lobos look as outclassed on offense as I did that day at Viejas Arena, and that was a Lobos team at full health, nationally ranked and one that went on to win the league’s regular season and tournament championships and earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Did I mention the Lobos scored six points — SIX POINTS! — and hit only one field goal — ONE FIELD GOAL! — in the final 12 minutes, 9 seconds of that game? For those who don’t remember the game, imagine watching 12:09 — that’s three media timeouts — with only six points scored and four of those off free throws. UNM closed that game hitting only one of its final 13 shots (0-for-5 from 3) and the SDSU defense simply dominated UNM on that day. Not in their other game that season, but on that day, it was as bad as a Lobo offense has looked in a really long time.

• BYU 96, New Mexico 66

Dec. 23, 2015 (Hawaii)
• KenPom’s pregame prediction: New Mexico by 1 (81-80)

While it may have got lost amid a four-game losing streak that started with losing to a bad Rice team in the Pit on a technical foul called for calling a timeout the team didn’t have and then the 0-for Hawaii trip that happened while the Cody Hopkins embezzlement case broke during Christmas week, the way the Cougars manhandled a full-strength, but thoroughly defeated Lobos team that day on the island was brutal.

Favored by 1, according to KenPom.com, the Lobos allowed BYU to score 1.33 points per possession, hit 16-of-28 3-pointers and Chase Fischer had 41 points, four assists and was 9-of-14 from beyond the arc.

UNM went on two days later on Christmas morning to lost by 23 points to a 9-22 Washington State team that finished the season 1-18 after blowing out the Lobos. Ironically, Wazzou’s only other win the rest of that season was against Steve Alford’s UCLA Bruins.

Arizona 77, New Mexico 46

Dec. 20, 2016 (Tucson)
• KenPom’s pregame prediction: Arizona by 14 (79-65)

At least this one, unlike the others on the list, wasn’t really even predicted by oddsmakers in Las Vegas or the computers to be close. Arizona was better, but it still sticks in my head as one of the worst Lobo showings I’ve covered.

The Lobos scored just 16 points in the first half and lost by 31 points in the third lowest offensive efficiency game in the KenPom era (0.67 points per possession). The 46 points scored is tied for the sixth fewest in the program since the Mountain West began in 1999-2000.

The game started 12-0, was later 27-8 and the Wildcats led by as many as 23 in the first 20 minutes. It was a game the Lobos never looked like they wanted to play in. They looked like they had quit before it started.

Elijah Brown was benched to start the game, one of only three games he didn’t start that season. He and Neal didn’t get along again and Brown transferred at the end of the season, along with numerous other Lobos.

Craig Neal was fired on March 31, but it was after this game in Tucson that I got the first impression from former Athletic Director Paul Krebs that a move was at least on the table when I asked him about it in the hallway outside the Lobos locker room after that game.

New Mexico State 100, New Mexico 65

Dec. 4, 2018 (Las Cruces)
• KenPom’s pregame prediction: NMSU by 5 (80-75)

The Aggies were the better team. They were favored to win and did. But there was more to this game than that.

Like the Dec. 5, 2006, Mesilla Valley Massacre, Part 1, when Reggie Theus’ Aggies beat Ritchie McKay’s Lobos 103-72, this 2018 NMSU victory had a little more to it from a rivalry standpoint.

It was the fourth-consecutive NMSU win over the Lobos in the rivalry that had been dominated by the Lobos until, ironically, they hired away NMSU’s coach, Paul Weir.

Of course, the Lobos played the game without JaQuan Lyle (injured) or Carlton Bragg (still awaiting NCAA clearance to play), but it didn’t matter that night in the Pan Am Center. After a pregame incident in which NMSU’s Ivan Aurrecoechea and Corey Manigault starting shoving each other and Aggies senior Eli Chuha was caught on video punching Manigault, the Aggies went on to beat up the Lobos in the game, too.

UNM hit just 8-of-33 2-point shots (24.2%), the second worst 2-point FG% the Lobos have had in the KenPom era. Without being able to score near the rim, the Lobos just looked like an intimidated team.

Colorado State 105, New Mexico 72

Jan. 15, 2020 (Fort Collins)
• KenPom’s pregame prediction: CSU by 1 (76-75)

By game time, the point spread was CSU favored by 5 as most impartial viewers, and Las Vegas bettors, understood the Lobos should have lost this game without two starters, one of them just being booted off the team Sunday night. Unlike the other games on this list, there were some very real personnel reasons for a loss, including losing a third starter with more than 5 minutes left in the first half.

But nobody could have predicted this.

While the 2013 game in San Diego by Steve Alford’s 17-2 Lobos was the most dominated I’ve seen UNM on offense for an entire game, Wednesday in Fort Collins with Pail Weir’s 15-3 Lobos was probably the most dominated I’ve seen UNM on defense for an entire game.

Maybe it’s as simple the Rams just happened to have the best shooting night in the program’s history. But it sure looked to me like the Lobos defense and effort, or lack of, had a lot to do with it on Wednesday.

I could be forgetting some games, and you may remember others. But off the top of my head Wednesday night, these were the five worst Lobo games I remember covering since the 2012-13 season.

The gamer

Here’s the gamer I filed from Moby Arena on Wednesday night that posted online and will publish in Thursday’s print edition of the Albuquerque Journal:

On the bright side?

The Lobos haven’t lost back-to-back games yet this season, and that includes after a 25-point loss to nationally-ranked Auburn.

LOSS 1
• Nov. 19: Lost at UTEP, 66-63
• Next game: Won at New Mexico State, 78-77

LOSS 2
• Nov. 25: Lost to Auburn, 84-59
• Next game: Won vs. Wisconsin, 59-50

LOSS 3
• Jan. 1: Lost at San Jose State, 88-85
• Next game: Won vs. Fresno State, 78-64

LOSS 4
• Jan. 15: Lost at Colorado State, 105-72
• Next game: at UNLV on Saturday

A number to know: 19

CSU hit a school-record 19 3-pointers, and even the Rams social media team couldn’t believe how wide open some of the shots, including the record-setter, were:

The show the Rams put on from beyond the arc deserve some bullet points:

• A CSU record 19 made 3s
• Tied for the ninth most made in a Division I game this season
• Are third most 3-pointers ever scored in a Mountain West game
• Are the second most hit against UNM in program history (Santa Clara hit 20 against UNM on Nov. 13, 2004).
• The 11 3-pointers CSU made in the first half were the most in a half vs. UNM this season.
• The 8 3-pointers CSU made in the second half were tied for the second most in a half vs. UNM this season (Wyoming had 8 in the second half on Dec. 7 in Laramie and Houston Baptist had eight in the first half on Dec. 22 in the Pit)

Another frustrating night

San Jose State’s Japhet-Mathias seemed to be about as frustrated with his team’s performance in Las Vegas as many Lobo fans were on Wednesday night…

A number to know: 67.9

The Rams’ 67.9% 3-point shooting clip on Wednesday was the 10th highest against UNM in program history in games where at least seven 3-pointers were made.

The worst? Texas Tech going 9-of-11 (81.8%) from 3-point range on Dec. 17, 2007, in Steve Alford’s first season as coach. The Lobos still won that game, 80-63.

He said it

“I think we’re waiting to just get him to a doctor. He obviously was checked out here and wasn’t probably comfortable enough, even me I just said it’s not worth it right now, to risk something. I’d like to get him looked at. Maybe an MRI to see where things are at to get kind of a clean bill of health before I throw him back out there.” — UNM coach Paul Weir on the injury to junior wing Vance Jackson.

Jackson fell to the floor and never returned to the game after hurting his leg in the first half.

While he warmed up before the second half, and was checked out by the team’s trainer and the CSU on-site doctor, the Lobos opted to be cautious and have him call it a night.

Meanwhile, at the Academy…

Down I-25, Boise State coach Leon Rice got ejected and the Air Force Falcons, whom the Lobos beat Saturday in the Pit, bounced back with a 26-of-30 night at the free throw line to beat the Broncos, who have now lost three of their last four league games.

Around the Mountain

There were three games around the Mountain West on Wednesday night after two midweek games on Tuesday.

Here are the midweek scores and Saturday’s schedule:

TUESDAY
• Nevada 68, Wyoming 67
• No. 7 San Diego State 64, Fresno State 55

WEDNESDAY
• Colorado State 105, New Mexico 72
• Air Force 85, Boise State 78
• UNLV 98, San Jose State 87

SATURDAY
• Colorado State at Air Force
• New Mexico at UNLV
• Fresno State at Wyoming
• Nevada at No. 7 San Diego State
• Utah State at Boise State

Meanwhile, in San Diego…

No, the San Diego State Aztecs didn’t even play on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean the Show wasn’t celebrating.

Auburn lost to Alabama, making the Aztecs the nation’s lone undefeated team remaining. The Aztecs are now proud owners of the Map:

Mountain West standings

Through Wednesday, here are the Mountain West standings (I went alphabetical if tied):

7-0 San Diego State
5-1 UNLV
4-2 Nevada
4-2 New Mexico
3-3 Air Force
3-3 Colorado State
3-3 Utah State
3-4 Boise State
2-5 San Jose State
1-5 Fresno State
0-7 Wyoming

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque…

That’s two league wins in a row for the UNM Lobo women after their 0-4 start in Mountain West play…

Plus/minus stats

Here are the Lobos’ plus/minus stat from Wednesday’s game with minutes played in parenthesis:

+4 Clay Patterson (2:15)
-2 Jordan Arroyo (4:21)
-3 Emmanuel Kuac (11:46)
-3 Kurt Wegscheider (5:53)
-6 Keith McGee (17:32)
-9 Tavian Percy (18:06)
-17 Corey Manigault (23:06)
-19 Vance Jackson (13:40)
-24 Zane Martin (27:47)
-27 Makuach Maluach (21:03)
-29 Vante Hendrix (26:17)
-30 JaQuan Lyle (28:14)

Video: Paul Weir

Here’s the brief postgame interview I had with Lobos coach Paul Weir after Wednesday’s game (sorry about the loud noises in the background of the video).

All that fire

The back of the baskets were on fire before the game. The nets were on fire (for CSU) during the game.

Box score

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

And here’s a link to the digital version: CLICK HERE

Up next

Up next for the Lobos: Saturday at UNLV, 3 p.m. PT/4 p.m. MT on CBS Sports Network

Grammer’s Guesses

Welp, as I tweeted prior to the game, I thought the Rams would win, but with the line grew to 4.5 points, I thought it’d be silly not to take that many points for the Lobos.

I was only half right.

The Guesses went 2-1 on Wednesday with wins with the Air Force pick and the San Jose State pick. I’m now 15-19-1 on the season.

My 10-year-old daughter’s #TeamCoin coin flip picks went 1-2 and we’re tied again (15-19-1).

And my 5-month-old daughter’s Baby Girl Grammer bonus picks have now lost two in a row, and is now 4-3 on the season. I guess I need to get her new toys (she picks one game by me or her older sister holding a toy in each hand and seeing which one she grabs first).

Until next time…

Moby Arena is always one of my favorite gyms in the Mountain West, even if the PA announcer has become the most annoying in the league with all the lengthy personalized basket calls he has for the Rams players.

Anyway, I’m old. And until next time, Moby…

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