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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos welcome the return of the Mak

Lobos senior guard Makuach Maluach goes up for a second half bucket in Thursday’s win over San Jose State in Burns Arena in St. George, Utah. (KC Knoop Photography)

Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, videos, tweets or whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Thursday’s 67-51 Lobo win over the San Jose State Spartans in St. George, Utah:

Makuach leads the way

Lobo senior Makuach Maluach was the best player on the court on Thursday with a season-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and a career-high four steals.

It wasn’t as though he had gone somewhere, but even Maluach admits he hadn’t been playing particularly well of late.

Sure, he remains the Lobos best player. That’s not in question in my mind, and opposing teams defending him as such proves that. But, as the team struggled to score in recent games, Maluach acknowledged he had been trying to do a little too much to try and help the team — leading to some bad decisions and poor shooting totals.

That wasn’t the case on Thursday.

“I just took my time and took my shots within the offense,” Maluach said. “In the UNLV game, I shot the ball terrible. And today I just wanted to come back and try shoot the ball well and try and just, you know, not force it — just play within the offense. I knew everything was gonna take care of itself.”

His 24th and 25th points were maybe the easiest of the day for him:

Here’s a look at Maluach’s last four games from a scoring and shooting standpoint, and why he was so happy with transpired on Thursday:

• THURSDAY – W, SJSU
25 points
8-9 2FG (88.9%)
2-5 3FG (40.0%)
3-3 FT (100%)

• MONDAY – L, UNLV
9 points
1-5 3FG (20.0%)
2-7 3FG (28.6%)
1-2 FT (50.0%)

• SATURDAY – L, UNLV
13 points
3-10 2FG (30.0%)
1-5 3FG (20.0%)
4-4 FT (100%)

• Jan. 13 – W, Dixie State
12 points
5-11 2FG (45.5%)
0-1 3G (0.0%)
2-2 FT (100%)

As for Thursday’s 25 points, he now has scored 1,142 in his Lobos career. He remains at No. 28 on the all-time scoring list for the Lobos, but is now just three points behind David Chiotti, who is from San Jose, Calif..

Chiotti was a volunteer assistant coach with the Lobos in the 2017-18 season when Maluach was a freshman.

The two used to work out together on the Pit floor — “That’s my guy!,” Maluach said when I asked him about Chiotti on Thursday.

The gamer

Here’s the gamer I filed after Thursday’s game the posted online and published in Friday’s Journal:

We’re going streaking! (Part 1)

The Lobos’ conference skid ending at eight means this season’s team did not take over lone possession of the worst Lobos losing streak in the Mountain West era.

Craig Neal’s 2014-15 Lobos also lost eight MWC games in a row — his bunch going 0-for-February and losing eight straight late in the season after a 6-3 start in conference games.

But eight straight league games lost remains tied for the most in the program since the 1958-59 Lobos lost their final 13 games in Mountain States Athletic Conference action.

Here’s a look at the longest conference losing streaks in the Mountain West era for Lobo basketball (1999-2000 to present season) with the coach and final conference record noted:

• 8 – 2020-21, Paul Weir (TBD)
• 8 – 2014-15, Craig Neal (7-11 .389)
• 5 – 2019-20, Paul Weir (7-11 .389)
• 4 – 2015-16, Craig Neal (10-8 .556)
• 4 – 2010-11, Steve Alford (8-8 .500)
• 4 – 2006-07, Ritchie McKay (4-12 .250)
• 4 – 2000-01, Fran Fraschilla (6-8 .429)

We’re going streaking! (Part 2)

Utah State saw its 11-game win streak come to an end on Thursday with a home loss to Colorado State. That was the Aggies’ longest win streak since winning 13 in a row in the 2012-13 season, which was their final game in the WAC.

Here is a look at the longest current win streaks among Mountain West teams:

13 – Boise State (includes one non-DI team)
4 – UNLV (includes two non-DI teams)
2 – Nevada
1 – Colorado State
1 – New Mexico
1 – Wyoming

Next up: Kurt Wegscheider

Paul Weir again tinkered with his starting lineup on Thursday, and for the second straight game, it paid off with early success.

In fact, in Weir’s decision to insert sophomore Kurt Wegscheider into the starting lineup (Saquan Singleton again assumed primary point guard duties and Wegscheider played off the ball), the 6-foot-4 guard from the Central African Republic had his best game of the season with five points, six rebounds and a steal in 24 minutes on the floor.

And the Lobos had a plus-20 scoring differential in the minutes Wegscheider was on the floor, second best only to Maluach’s plus-21.

But they weren’t all easy points for Wegscheider:

Best lineups

As the Lobos continue trying new things with lineups and team chemistry, I’ll keep checking in on what the best lineup was for each game, at least in terms of scoring differential.

Here are the details for the two best lineups Thursday:

• Lineup: Saquan Singleton, Kurt Wegscheider, Makuach Maluach, Emmanuel Kuach, Rod Brown
• Time on court: 7:35
• Point differential: plus-7 (17-10)
• Other: 5 steals (Lobos had 10 all game)

• Lineup: Isaiah Marin, Kurt Wegscheider, Makuach Maluach, Emmanuel Kuach, Bayron Matos
• Time on court: 4:29
• Point differential: plus-6 (12-6)
• Other: 3 steals (Lobos had 10 all game)

Meanwhile, back in Albuquerque…

In the famous words of Allen Iverson, “We talking ’bout practice! PRACTICE?!?!?”

In the first allowed practice in Albuquerque that UNM has posted pictures of since the health order issues back in mid-October.

And for those who didn’t see the news the Journal broke earlier this week, here is the story on the state amending the public health order to allow for college sports in New Mexico to now be able to stay home and practice — not play games, yet, but practice for now, something the UNM Lobo men’s and women’s basketball teams and NMSU men’s and women’s basketball teams have not been allowed to this season:

It’s about time

Saturday’s Lobo game vs. San Jose State is at noon. It was originally scheduled for 1 p.m., again from Burns Arena at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah.

The game can again be watched online at www.TheMW.com/watch.

It doesn’t happen often

Welp, this puts things into perspective for how bad Thursday’s matchup was between the San Jose State Spartans and New Mexico Lobos:

Another number to know: 40

Other than final score, you want to know the one stat that seems to coincide perfectly with every Lobo win and loss?

The Lobos are 5-0 this season when scoring 40 or more points in the paint and 0-8 when not scoring 40 or more points in the paint.

It’s simple. When the Lobos can’t score close to the rim, they just aren’t very good offensively.

UNM’s points in the paint comparisons for their five wins:

• 42-26 — Thursday vs San Jose State
• 46-22 — Jan 13 vs. Dixie State
• 68-20 — Dec. 17 vs. DIII LeTourneau
• 54-20 — Dec. 15 vs. NAIA Our Lady of the Lake
• 40-12 — Dec. 13 vs. Rice

Speaking of Rice, this is nice

Rice, who UNM beat in its season opener Dec. 13 in Houston by a score of 72-61, currently has a 4-2 record in 14-team Conference-USA and is tied for third in the league (with three other 4-2 teams). Rice is 10-4 overall.

Meanwhile, in Logan…

The Colorado State Rams had four players score 15 or more points and sophomore point guard Isaiah Stevens went off for 18 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and was 11-of-13 at the free throw line in what was largely an unguardable sort of night as he led his team to a 84-76 win over Utah State in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah.

For the Rams, that’s now road splits at San Diego State and at Utah State with a home series next week against league-leading Boise State.

Around the Mountain

There were five Mountain West teams in action on Thursday (two league games, one non-conference game) and three league games scheduled for Friday.

THURSDAY
• New Mexico 67, San Jose State 51
• Colorado State 84, Utah State 76

FRIDAY
• Nevada at Wyoming, 6 p.m. MT (TheMW.com/watch)
• Fresno State at Boise State, 7 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Netowrk)
• San Diego State at Air Force, 9 p.m. MT (FS1)

Mountain West standings

Mountain West standings through Thursday:
9-0 Boise State
9-1 Utah State
8-2 Colorado State
5-3 Nevada
3-3 San Diego State
2-2 UNLV
2-4 Wyoming
3-6 Fresno State
2-6 Air Force
1-8 New Mexico
0-9 San Jose State

So, about those top teams…

Here are some interesting notes and what’s coming up for the top four teams in the league (Sorry, Nevada. It ain’t you even with that 5-3 league record that is better than San Diego State’s right now).

• 9-0 Boise State: Pretty record, but the Broncos so far have played only the bottom five teams the standings, miles ahead of the field with the easiest record so far in conference play.
• 9-1 Utah State: Another pretty record, and the Aggies do already have both San Diego State and Colorado State in the rear view mirror, but still, this has been the third easiest schedule and they did just lost a home game in Logan and don’t have another home game until Feb. 11.
• 8-2 Colorado State: Dare I say, the Rams already have the biggest feathers in the cap? Sure they’re the lowest rated of the bunch in computer rankings after doing nothing special in non-conference play, but CSU has road splits AT San Diego State and AT Utah State with Boise State coming to Fort Collins for a two-game series next week.
• 3-3 San Diego State: The preseason favorites who have three of the top wins for the league this season (a 15-point slap of UCLA on opening night, and double digit wins at Arizona Sate and Saint Marys) are licking their wounds with a .500 record. But here’s where looking at the schedule really matters. The Aztecs next 10 games are against the bottom five teams in the league with a combined record of 8-33 in MWC play — the same bottom five Boise State has already been feasting on.

Meanwhile, in Tempe…

OK, this doesn’t have anything to do with the Lobos or the Mountain West, but when you get a no-call at one end (ASU coach Bobby Hurly was furious about this after the game, as he often is about everything), and then you get a buzzer beater for Arizona at the other end to decide a rivalry game, I figure it’s worth the share.

Plus/minus stats

Here are the UNM Lobos’ plus/minus stats for Thursday’s game with minutes played in parenthesis:

+21 Makuach Maluach (35:57)
+20 Kurt Wegscheider (23:33)
+12 Rod Brown (32:08)
+11 Saquan Singleton (27:24)
+10 Bayron Matos (13:28)
+7 Emmanuel Kuac (25:04)
+5 Isaiah Marin (12:36)
+2 Jeremiah Francis (3:52)
-1 Valdir Manuel (20:43)
-7 Javonte Johnson (5:15)

Stats and stats

Here is a link to the digital version of stats from Thursday’s game: New Mexico 67, San Jose State 51

And for those who like the look of the more traditional looking stat sheet, here’s a tweet I posted with that after the game:

Wanna watch?

If interested in watching Thursday’s win, here is the link to the Mountain West’s online stream of the game: WATCH HERE

Familiar faces/voices

Coaching men’s basketball at UNM clearly preps you for one of two future jobs: TV broadcasting or coaching at Nevada.

Most people know former Lobos head coach Fran Fraschilla is a popular, successful and frankly quite good TV analyst for ESPN college basketball games.

But I just realized in the past week that a pair of former Lobo assistant coaches who moved on to be head coaches in Power Six conferences are now TV analysts calling Mountain West games.

Talking Grammer podcasts

Have some time to kill at your desk today? Take a listen to one of the 35 Talking Grammer podcast conversations available online.

You can find the podcast archive here on the Journal’s site:

Or go to the Talking Grammer page on any of these sites where podcast can be found:

• SoundCloud
• iTunes
• Spotify

Parting shot

They may not be socially distanced (they do live, travel and play basketball together, so maybe that’s OK), but the Colorado Rams had to hit up a Logan convenience story on the way out of town on Thursday night after their huge road win over Utah State.

Here’s a picture tweeted out by CSU head coach Niko Medved of the third-year Rams coach along with his players loading up on healthy snacks for the flight home to Colorado.

Grammer’s Guesses

The Guesses went 1-1 on Thursday and I’m now 22-21-1 on the season.

My daughter’s not-so-lucky coin continues its tailspin with an 0-2 Thursday to drop her coin flip picks to 18-25-1 on the season.

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