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Emptying the Notebook: UNM can’t rebound at Fresno State

The Bulldog statue at the front of the Save Mart Center at Fresno State University. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

FRESNO, Calif. — Here are some extra notes, quotes, videos, stats, tweets and whatever else I could empty out of the old Notebook after Saturday’s 82-77 Fresno State win over UNM:

Time to board

Corey Manigault is a very skilled, 6-foot-9 offensive post player. And when you’re around the rim as much as he is (he’s averaging almost 31 minutes per game since the initial Carlton Bragg suspension on Dec. 22), you’re going to see your rebounding numbers climb a bit just by virtue of being where missed shots fall.

But he has hardly been able to do for the Lobos in the post in terms of rebounding what he and the 6-10 Bragg were able to do together earlier in the season.

Of course in addition to Bragg and his 10-plus rebounds per game, there’s about another dozen rebounds a game out with other players missing, and not all are about size. Forward Vance Jackson, 6-9, was the second leading rebounder when Bragg was dismissed, but has missed five-plus games now with a bone bruise in his left knee. And guards J.J. Caldwell (3.9 rebounds per game) and JaQuan Lyle (4.1) are also sorely missed.

The four missing starters were hauling in about 23 rebounds per game that aren’t being made up for very well by the other players now getting those minutes.

The Lobos were out-rebounded on Saturday at Fresno State by 15, marking the fourth time in the past six games UNM has been out-rebounded by more than 10 in a game, something that hadn’t happened once with Bragg in the lineup.

“Look, I thought the kids fought down there,” UNM coach Paul Weir said on Saturday after his team’s loss to Fresno State.

Emmanuel Kuac, a 6-7 freshman, played 13 minutes all season until Bragg’s dismissal after the Jan. 11 Air Force game. In the six games since, Kuac has averaged about 11 minutes, including 10 on Saturday.

Jordan Arroyo, a 6-7 sophomore walk-on from Atrisco Heritage Academy, played 18 minutes all season until Jan. 25 at Nevada. In the past three games, the walk-on forward has averaged 15.3 minutes per game.

For Fresno State, senior forward Nate Grimes (13 rebounds) and freshman Orlando Robinson (15) combined for 28 rebounds. The Lobos entire roster had 22.

UNM has won the battle of the boards in 14 of its 24 games this season, but has been out-rebounded six times in the past eight games.

And as for games where the opponent has out-rebounded UNM by more than 10? That’s happened four times all season, all in the past six games:

• minus-25 (50-26) at Nevada on Jan. 25
• minus-16 (47-31) at UNLV on Jan. 18
• minus-15 (37-22) at Fresno State on Saturday
• minus-13 (36-23) at Colorado State on Jan. 15

Jackson and Lyle returning for UNM’s next game (Feb. 8) will help, not to mention the opponent (Wyoming) is a team that doesn’t aggressively pursue offensive boards and was out-rebounded by UNM on Dec. 7 by a total of 18 (47-29).

The gamer

Here is the gamer I filed from the Save Mart Center after Saturday’s game:

McGee for threeeee

Junior guard Keith McGee played well defensively on Saturday at Fresno, something that has not often been the case this season.

But it was his career game from the 3-point line that kept the Lobos in striking distance with a chance to win late.

McGee was 6-of-9 from 3-point range and was one of three Lobos to score 18 points. McGee’s previous career high for 3s in a game was five, but that was on 11 attempts on Feb. 26 of last season, also in a loss (at San Jose State).

“Right now, given who we have, yes (the Lobos are relying on that from McGee now),” said Weir. “He has to play a huge role for us — much bigger than he’s had to play all year and probably last year, so it’s a new spot for him to be in. I’m really happy with how he played tonight and I thought his defensive energy was good too.”

He said it, Part 1

“We’ve had a great few days. I thought we had our best practice of the season yesterday. I think they’ve been really connected, really united. They’re trying. They want to do well for themselves, for their team, for a lot of different reasons. And they’re giving it what they’ve got.”— UNM coach Paul Weir

Baby races for the win!

Yes, I’m a sucker for a good baby race at halftime of a basketball game.

And Fresno State has the best of them. Here’s video of Saturday’s epic baby race championship. Sorry, Twitter only let me post 2:20 of video, so about another minute was cut off the front end here, but the action is still intense!

A number to know: 6

The Lobos tied a season-low six turnovers in Saturday’s game and, in a 68-possession game, posted a turnover rate of just 0.088.

UNM also had six turnovers in the Dec. 4 win over Boise State, but that game had fewer possessions and UNM had a slightly higher turnover rate at 0.092.

More game day drama

Saturday morning, the Journal broke news (after being alerted to it) that suspended point guard J.J. Caldwell has been charged with a misdemeanor count of battery against a household member by Albuquerque Police.

I won’t retell the whole story here. Here’s a link to the article I filed from a hotel room in Fresno on Saturday morning:

Who didn’t play

The Lobos played just seven scholarship players on Saturday. The only scholarship player who was a healthy scratch was guard Kurt Wegscheider. I asked Weir about the reason after the game, and he said guards weren’t the concern on Saturday. He liked what he was getting at the guard spot. It was down low that concerned him.

So, who among the team’s 13 scholarship players didn’t actually play for the Lobos on Saturday? Let’s give the full rundown, even if some haven’t been in the picture all season.

• PF Carlton Bragg (dismissed from team)
• PG J.J. Caldwell (suspended for the 11th game)
• PG Drue Drinnon (transferred from program in November)
• F Vance Jackson (missed last five and a half games due to a bone bruise in his left knee)
• G JaQuan Lyle (after being injured two games, Lyle served the second of a two game suspension on Saturday)
• F Bayron Matos (freshman who last week enrolled at UNM and took the scholarship vacated by Drinnon stayed home in Albuquerque and isn’t expected to play for the Lobos this season)
• G Kurt Wegscheider (healthy, just didn’t play on Saturday)

Meanwhile, in San Diego…

I’m starting to think San Diego State might be pretty good.

The No. 4 Aztecs beat Utah State by a dozen on a night when Kawhi Leonard had his jersey retired in Viejas Arena.

First, Kawhi…

There was a full slate of five Mountain West games on Saturday:<< olorado State 95, UNLV 77<< resno State 82, New Mexico 77<< yoming 71, San Jose State 66<< o. 4 San Diego State 80, Utah State 68<< oise State 73, Nevada 64

MWC Standings

Through Saturday’s games, here are the MWC standings (alphabetical where same record):<< -0 San Diego State<< 4 Boise State<< 4 Colorado State<< 4 UNLV<< 5 Nevada<< 5 Utah State<< 6 New Mexico<< 7 Fresno State<< 7 Air Force<< 8 San Jose State<< 10 Wyoming

Meanwhile, back in Albuquerque…

The Lobo women’s basketball team fared no better than the men on Saturday.

He showed me

I wrote notes twice in the past week about Makuach Maluach’s extreme home/road splits when it comes to shooting, especially 3-point shooting.

Entering Saturday’s game, Maluach was 17-of-38 (44.7%) from 3-point range when playing in the Pit. But he was just 2-of-25 (8.0%) from 3-point range away from Albuquerque, including having missed his last 23 attempts.

On Saturday, Maluach shut me up, going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

On the season, Maluach is now at 16.1% from 3-point range away from the Pit.

Box score

Here is the box score from Saturday’s game:


Here are the plus/minus numbers for the Lobos from Saturday’s game with minutes played in parenthesis:

+11 Emmanuel Kuac (10)<< Jordan Arroyo (14)<< Zane Martin (30)<< Makuach Maluach (36)<< Tavian Percy (11)<< 1 Keith McGee (32)<< 3 Corey Manigault (35)<< 9 Vante Hendrix (32)

Meanwhile, in Las Cruces…

Old boss, meet the new boss…

The same team always wins. Saturday was no different as NMSU won by 20 in front of an announced crowd of 13,960.

The Lobos aren’t a 3-point shooting team, but did hit 12 of them Saturday at Fresno State, led by six from junior guard Keith McGee.

UNM has hit 10 or more 3-pointers four times this season. But in those four games, UNM has lost three times. As nice as the 3s are, UNM is still an offense that is at its best, it seems, when getting to the free throw line and scoring at the rim.

Here are UNM’s four games with double-digit 3s:<< 4 (Dec. 17 vs. Grand Canyon - win)<< 2 (Saturday at Fresno State - loss)<< 0 (Jan. 18 at UNLV - loss)<< 0 (Jan. 25 at Nevada - loss)

Announced attendance

The announced attendance at the Save Mart Center on Saturday: 5,144

Here is a video I took as the pregame player introductions were taking place, as I’ve done for most Mountain West games this season.

For those who don’t already know, I like tracking score by quarters even though men’s college basketball is the level, men or women, of basketball that plays two 20-minute halves for no apparent reason other than, ‘Hey! Why not?’

I still like breaking games down into smaller units more easy to compare with all other levels of the sport. And in men’s college basketball, I know this much: Scoring 30 points in a quarter means your offense is firing on all cylinders.

Saturday, it wasn’t the offense that was the problem for UNM as the Lobos scored 1.13 points per possession, including a blistering 30 points in the “first quarter” of the game, which is the first 10 minutes. UNM has struggled with slow starts, but not on Saturday.

UNM has had five 30-point quarters this season:

• 32 – 4th quarter, Jan. 1 at San Jose State (loss)<< 2 - 3rd quarter, Dec. 22 vs. Houston Baptist (win)<< 0 - 1st quarter, Saturday at Fresno State (loss)<< 0 - 3rd quarter, Jan. 21 vs. San Jose State (win)<< 0 - 3rd quarter, Nov. 6 vs. DII ENMU (win)


Here’s the brief postgame interview I had with Paul Weir after Saturday’s game:

This is fine…

Nothing creepy about this at all…

The Guesses go 3-2, getting CSU, UNM, BSU right. I’m now 24-33-2 against the spread.

My 10-year-old daughter’s coin flip picks went 4-1, because of course they did. She’s 27-30-2 now.

And my 6-month-old (not 5-month-old as I keep typing) got her Baby Girl Grammer Bonus Pick wrong. She’s now 6-6 on the season and since I finally beat her for a night, I will talk trash when I get home to Albuquerque!

Until next time, Save Mart Center on the campus of Fresno State University…

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