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Emptying the Notebook: Energized Lobos set new MWC era mark in Pit

UNM Lobos from left Corey Manigault, Keith McGee and Tavian Percy celebrate their 86-59 victory over San Jose State on Tuesday at Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit . (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Here are some extra notes, quotes, videos, tweets, stats and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Tuesday’s 86-59 UNM win over San Jose State in the Pit:

13-0 in the Pit

The Lobos are now 13-0 in the Pit, the best home start to a season for the program in the 21 season Mountain West era and the best start at home to a season since the 1998-99 season (16-0).

As bad as last week was, Makuach Maluach said there is just a different mindset when playing at home this season.

“When we came back home, we had to protect the Pit — do it for our fans,” Maluach said. “We couldn’t let them down.”

Added Zane Martin, “We just don’t want to disappoint the fans.”

Here are the best home starts in the Pit in the Mountain West era (1999-2000 season):

• 2019-20: 13-0 (current)
• 2005-06: 12-0
• 2009-10: 10-0
• 2007-08: 10-0
• 2006-07: 10-0

The next home game for UNM is against No. 4 San Diego State next Wednesday (Jan. 29).

Coming up

Up next for the Lobos on Saturday in Reno is a Nevada team coaches by former Lobo head coaches Steve Alford (Wolf Pack head coach) and Craig Neal (Wolf Pack assistant coach).

The gamer

Here’s the gamer I filed from the Pit late Tuesday that published in (most) of the Journal’s Wednesday print editions. Due to deadlines, some print editions have a shorter version of the story, some have the full version linked here:

Those four starters out

For those scoring at home, here is the current status on the four Lobo starters who were not starting on Tuesday:

CARLTON BRAGG
• Why out: Dismissed from team after last week’s aggravated DWI
• When back: Not happening

J.J. Caldwell
• Why out: Though still not charged with a crime or found to have committed any university policy, Caldwell remains indefinitely suspended after his ex-girlfriend has alleged multiple physical altercations with Caldwell
• When back: No timetable

JaQUAN LYLE
• Why out: Knee injury suffered last week vs. UNLV, although it’s safe to say he’s had tired legs for awhile and needed a break
• When back: TBD. Weir said Lyle will have an MRI on the knee on Wednesday to make sure there is nothing major going on in there, but the initial thought is he won’t miss much time.

VANCE JACKSON
• Why out: Left knee injury suffered Jan. 15 at Colorado State
• When back: Soon. While it wasn’t specific, Weir hinted at Jackson being a “day-to-day” sort of injury at this point.

All that led to this starting lineup:

A number to know: 44

Hat tip to UNM men’s hoops sports information director Chelsea Pitvorec for pointing this one out, but on a night when there was much made about the Lobos being without four starters, junior Makuach Maluach made his 44th consecutive start for the Lobos.

His starting streak started Dec. 18, 2018, in the Pit against North Texas. And for those who remember the sometimes erratic way Paul Weir picked starting lineups last season with deflections per minute, a 43-game starting streak is quite remarkable for the player who still seems to get lost in the Lobos shuffle at times.

Tuesday, all Maluach did, besides the 44th consecutive start, was post this stat line:
• 15 points
• 13 rebounds
• 7 drawn fouls
• 1 assist
• 2 turnovers
• 2 steals
• 2 blocked shots

Don’t sweat(er) it

You can always count on me to ask the tough questions and dig for the important things in any story.

Like Paul Weir’s attire.

The real important question after 59 games in a row of their coach wearing a red sweater, what did Lobo players think of him in a suit on Tuesday night?

Zane Martin: “It was about time he changed it up. I was getting tired of the red sweater.”

Makuach Maluach: “About time.”

And for those unaware, the reason for the suit…

He said it

“At the beginning of the year, in our minds, we had three point guards (JJ Caldwell, JaQuan Lyle and Drue Drinnon). And none of those three are with us right now. For those guys (Zane Martin and Tavian Percy) to slide over into different positions and get us into an 11-turnover game, win the turnover battle against a team like San Jose State, says a lot about those guys.”— UNM coach Paul Weir talking about the big game from guards Zane Martin and Tavian Percy.

Vante, Vante, Vante…

So, Vante Hendrix can do this.

Meanwhile, in Viejas Arena…

Not that the outcome was ever in question, but still a rather big win for the No. 4 San Diego State Aztecs on Tuesday on their home court in Viejas Arena over Wyoming to improve to 20-0 on the season, matching the program’s best ever start.

Around the Mountain

There were three games around the Mountain West on Tuesday night, two more on Wednesday then a full slate of weekend games.

TUESDAY
• New Mexico 86, San Jose State 59
• Utah State 72, Air Force 47
• No. 4 San Diego State 72, Wyoming 55

WEDNESDAY
• Fresno State at Colorado State, 7 MT
• UNLV at Nevada, 9 MT

SATURDAY
• Air Force at San Jose State, 3 MT
• Boise State at Fresno State, 6 MT
• New Mexico at Nevada, 6 MT
• Colorado State at Utah State, 8 MT

SUNDAY
• No. 4 San Diego State at UNLV, 2 MT

A familiar face

Former Lobo Sam Logwood was in the house on Tuesday…

Mountain West standings

Through Tuesday’s games, here are the Mountain West standings:

9-0 San Diego State
6-1 UNLV
5-3 New Mexico
4-3 Colorado State
4-3 Nevada
4-4 Boise State
4-4 Utah State
3-5 Air Force
2-5 Fresno State
2-6 San Jose State
0-9 Wyoming

Plus/minus standings

No, these aren’t the game’s plus/minus stats I usually post here (those come later in this column). These are the plus/minus team standings give one point for a road win and subtract one point for a home loss.

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

Meanwhile, in Lawrence…

OK, so this isn’t a Mountain West game, but when the gloves come off and the fists are flying in a rivalry game, it’s worth a look…

Attendance

The announced attendance for Tuesday’s game in the Pit: 10,016

Plus/minus stats

Here are the plus/minus stats for the Lobos on Tuesday with minutes played in parenthesis (quick refresher for those just tuning in, plus/minus is what happens to a team’s score while a player is on the court):

+32 Zane Martin (30:54)
+29 Makuach Maluach (32:02)
+26 Corey Manigault (34:51)
+25 Vante Hendrix (30:12)
+22 Keith McGee (23:55)
+10 Tavian Percy (27:39)
+1 Jordan Arroyo (5:09)
-2 Kurt Wegscheider (3:10)
-2 Clay Patterson (2:32)
-6 Emmanuel Kuac (9:36)

Box score

Here’s the box score from Tuesday’s game:

And if you want the digital version, CLICK HERE.

Another number to know: 25.3

The Lobos are now 9-1 all-time in the Pit against San Jose State with an average winning scoring margin of 25.3 points per win, none of them being decided by fewer than a dozen points.

The only Lobos loss to SJSU in the Pit was Feb. 4, 2017, by a score of 78-68 in the final season of the Craig Neal era.

Here’s the series history in the Pit:
• 1961: 12 points — UNM 63, SJSU 51
• 1967: 18 points — UNM 93, SJSU 75
• 1997: 29 points — UNM 86, SJSU 57
• 1999: 36 points — UNM 82, SJSU 46
• 2014: 25 points — UNM 72, SJSU 47
• 2016: 16 points — UNM 74, SJSU 58
• 2017: minus-10 points — SJSU 78, UNM 68
• 2018: 33 points — UNM 80, SJSU 47
• 2019: 32 points — UNM 92, SJSU 60
• 2020: 27 points — UNM 86, SJSU 59

Video: Weir, Martin, Maluach

Here’s the video of Paul Weir, Zane Martin and Makuach Maluach after Tuesday’s game:

Then and now

The Lobos and SJSU played twice this season. San Jose State won 88-85 on Jan. 1 in San Jose and the Lobos won 86-59 on Tuesday.

Here are some differences in some key stats from Game 1/Game 2:

• SJSU 3-pointers made: 12/5
• SJSU 3-point FG%: 36.4%/20.0%
• UNM turnovers: 18/11

Also of note for individual players, SJSU’s Richard Washington had seven made 3-pointers, including the game-winner for the Spartans on Jan. 1, and finished with 25 points.

On Tuesday, Washington’s first basket of any kind was his 3-pointer with 4:54 left in the game to cut the Lobos lead to 78-51.

Washington had 3 points Tuesday.

Here’s one more key takeaway from the Jan. 1 game compared to Tuesday. Both games had a great start for the Lobos, but Tuesday it never let up.

Jan. 1: UNM led 26-14 with 12:08 left first half. Over the next 20 minutes, the Spartans outscored the Lobos 48-18 to take a 62-44 lead with 12:46 left in the second half.

Tuesday: UNM led 22-10 with 9:35 left in first half. Instead of letting up, though, it was still at 12-point lead at halftime (41-29) and grew to 30 by midway through the second half at 69-39 with 11:12 left in the game.

Walk-on walk-off

Walk-on Clay Patterson helped be the closer Tuesday night as the Rio Rancho High guard hit four free throws in the closing minutes and dished a massive alley-oop dunk to freshman Emmanuel Kuac for the Lobos’ final points.

Grammer’s Guesses

OK, so I’m bad at this whole picking games thing again. (Yes, again… I was OK at it sometimes).

The Guesses go 0-for Tuesday and I’m now a dismal 15-26-2 against the spread for the season while my 10-year-old daughter is now a couple games ahead of my with her coin flip picks at 17-24-2 on the season.

My 5-moth-old daughter’s Baby Girl Grammer bonus pick will return on Wednesday night for one of the two Mountain West games then. She’s 4-4 picking games this season (or picking a toy that we assign to a particular team and we make whichever toy she picks be per Mountain West pick for the night).

Anyway, both my daughters are beating me.

I’ll be sleeping in the garage to avoid the humiliation for awhile.

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