Lobo hoops notes: Team monitoring virus-exposed refs from Monday's game - Albuquerque Journal

Lobo hoops notes: Team monitoring virus-exposed refs from Monday’s game

Wednesday’s UCLA at Oregon men’s basketball game was called off when one of the game’s referees tested positive for COVID-19.

The other two referees in the three-man crew were also held out due to contact-tracing protocols as all three called a Tuesday night game together in Corvallis, Oregon.

The matter is now on the radar of the New Mexico Lobos because two of the three referees in question – Eric Curry and Kevin Brill – officiated Monday’s Lobo game against the Boise State Broncos in Boise, Idaho.

The Pac-12 isn’t releasing who tested positive of the three – Curry, Brill and Randy McCall.

UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said trainers with both Boise State and UNM were informed of the matter sometime Wednesday after it came to light in Eugene, Oregon.

“Both teams had all tested negative,” Nuñez said, referring to PCR tests both teams had taken Tuesday. “Our trainers were in communication with everyone involved, and based off those negative tests we had received back that were taken the day before – and with no symptoms or issues present, and the facility had been thoroughly cleaned by then, they assessed the situation and did so again and the decision was to go forward.”

As of Thursday afternoon, when the Lobos were making their way back to Albuquerque via a pair of commercial flights, there were still no symptoms or signs that the virus had affected the UNM program. The standard three-times-weekly PCR testing will continue.

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, had a little fun with the matter, writing in the lead paragraph of Wednesday’s article on the matter: “The Pac-12 Conference has taken its inability to call games to a new level.”

STREAMED RICE: As part of UNM’s contract to play at Rice on Dec. 13, the host Owls, in lieu of normal payment to a visiting team in non-conference play, gave the Lobos use of their practice facility, weight room and Tudor Fieldhouse to host a pair of games. Those terms were more than worth it to UNM, given its circumstances as a team without a gym where it can fully practice and play at the moment.

The contract also offered up use of the athletic department’s video crew and play-by-play announcer to stream on Rice’s YouTube page the Lobos’ Dec. 15 game against NAIA opponent Our Lady of the Lake and the Dec. 17 game against Division III LeTourneau.

How interested in those streams were Lobo fans – who hadn’t had much of a glimpse of their team since last March due to pandemic restrictions?

If you sort by “most popular” videos in the seven-year history of the Rice Athletics YouTube page, the 10th most watched video is the Our Lady of the Lake game with 12,000 views. The 13th most watched video is the LeTourneau game (7,800 views). Maybe more impressive is that those week-old videos are the only two that haven’t been online at least a year.

The No. 1 video all-time watched on the Rice YouTube page? A 2016 crawling baby race at halftime of a basketball game with more than 2.7 million views.

‘TWAS THE GAME BEFORE CHRISTMAS: In the 22 seasons of Mountain West basketball, through lean times and good ones for the Lobo men, there seems to be one constant. The game before Christmas seems to be a potential land mine.

UNM is 9-13 in those games and Wednesday’s 37-point loss at Boise State was actually the third loss in the past six seasons of at least 30 points (96-66 to BYU in Hawaii in 2015 and 77-46 at Arizona the following season, both under coach Craig Neal).

There were also major upset losses by undefeated Lobo squads twice under Steve Alford in the game before Christmas. On both occasions, nationally ranked 12-0 Lobo teams were tripped up – in 2009 at Oral Roberts and in 2012 against South Dakota State, a game some remember for Kendall Williams being taken out of the starting lineup due to repeated alarm clock issues, as it was explained later. Those two Lobo teams went on to 30 and 29 wins, respectively.

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