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Emptying the Notebook: Now over, where does Lobo regular season rank?

UNM Lobo guard Saquan Singleton jumps for the opening tip against CSU center James Moors on Wednesday night at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo. (Courtesy UNM Athletics)

Here are a few extra notes, quotes, tweets, stats and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Wednesday’s 87-73 Lobos loss at Colorado State in Fort Collins:

Historic finish

Look, some things are graded in relation to the season they’re in, some with a broader context.

With the former in mind, I actually thought Wednesday’s game for the Lobos was something worth walking off the court with heads held high. That I wrote that about a 14-point loss that was never really in much doubt probably tells you what you need to know about this season for the Lobos, but compared to the 21 games the team has played in this crazy 2020-21 season, I thought the team actually had a feel-good sort of night.

But, alas, it was still a loss. No. 15 on the season — all in league play — to be exact. So there are some historical consequences to that as the regular season has now come to a close.

UNM’s 2-15 Mountain West record secures the Lobos’ spot alone in last place in the standings.

So, where does that rank?

First off, the 15 conference losses the Lobos finish the regular season with are the second most all-time, behind only the 1938-39 Lobos who went 4-16 in a 20-game Border Conference schedule. Having 20-game schedules is rare for league’s the Lobos have been in, so more games played means more chances for records for all MWC teams (CSU for example set a record Wednesday for 14 conference wins, most that program has ever had).

Nevertheless, here’s where this season ranks in terms of overall conference losses for the UNM Lobos:

• 16 losses: 1938-38 Lobos went 4-16 (Border Conference)
• 15 losses: 2020-21 Lobos went 2-15 (Mountain West)
• 14 losses: 1957-58 Lobos went 0-14 (Skyline Conference)
• 14 losses: 1940-41 Lobos went 4-14 (Border Conference)
• 14 losses: 1939-40 Lobos went 2-14 (Border Conference)

Since the 1930-31 season — when the Border Conference started with five original members UNM, New Mexico A&M (now NMSU), Arizona, Arizona State Teachers – Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona) and Arizona State Teachers – Tempe (now Arizona State) — the Lobos have finished in last place of whichever conference they were in 14 times (this season is No. 14).

And it’s been pretty rare the past half century (this is the first time since 2007, second since 1980 and third since 1969).

In those 91 seasons of playing in a conference, UNM has finished alone in last place seven times and tied for last place with another team seven times.

Here are the seven times the UNM Lobos men’s basketball team has ever finished alone in last place of their conference:

• 2020-21: 11th place — 2-15 (Mountain West)
• 1957-58: 8th place — 0-14 (Skyline)
• 1956-57: 8th place — 1-13 (Skyline)
• 1954-55: 8th place — 2-12 (Skyline)
• 1951-52: 8th place — 1-13 (Skyline)
• 1939-40: 8th place — 2-14 (Border)
• 1938-39: 7th place — 4-16 (Border)

OK, enough of that. There’s been plenty of point out all the historic bad of this season. Now, let’s look at some things that happened in the game on Wednesday night…

The gamer

Here’s the gamer I wrote after Wednesday’s game for the Journal…

The Makuach Watch

I sure hope Lobo senior Makuach Maluach gets honored next week by both the coaches and media poll as an all-league player. Both the coaches and media do three teams of five players for all-league honors.

A last-place team in an 11-team league that honors 15 players has little chance at getting an all-league player selected, but I know he’ll be getting at least one vote from the media poll by me.

As for Wednesday, Maluach scored 20 points for the fourth consecutive game and seventh time this season. His 30 points in the Feb. 19 loss to Wyoming makes him one of just nine Mountain West players to score 30 in a game this season.

His full stat line for Wednesday night:

• 20 points
• 7-16 FGs (1-2 3FG)
• 5-6 FTs
• 8 rebounds
• 2 assists

OK, so the assists weren’t a huge part of his game, but since one of them was this highlight here, I had to include it. This is Maluach’s first-half alley-oop dunk assist to Emmanuel Kuac, which started for the Lobos as 12-2 run to tie the game 20-20 in the first half…

After he scored 20 points, Maluach now has 1,292 points in his Lobos career. He passed two more Lobos and is now in 17th on the UNM’s all-time scoring list.

• 15. Willie Banks (1988-1992) — 1,394 points
• 16. Kenny Page (1979-81) — 1,387 points
• 17. Makuach Maluach (2017-present) — 1,292 points
• 18. Francis Grant (1959-1962) — 1,282 points
• 19. Elijah Brown (2015-17) — 1,276 points

Weir thankful

In case you missed it, Paul Weir did announce his resignation on Friday but plans to coach through the Mountain West tournament while UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez starts a national search for a replacement.

Tuesday, Weir issued a statement about the move, thanking fans, UNM, coaches and players. Here’s what he said:

Who wasn’t there…

Four Lobo scholarship players didn’t make the trip to Colorado. Here’s what I posted on the Journal’s website before Wednesday’s game (LINK).

Here are the four scholarship guys who were MIA:

• Bayron Matos, 6-9
• Valdir Manuel, 6-10
• Rod Brown, 6-8
• Kurt Wegscheider, 6-4

That’s 39 starts and pretty much all three forwards on the roster.

UNM isn’t saying what’s going on with those four, but Weir did say he hopes some will be back for next week’s Mountain West tournament.

“I’m giving certain players on our team some space to process what’s going on,” said Weir. “I’m hopeful that they will return again this season. But right now, our focus and our energy has been on the guys that were on this trip. I’m grateful to have them I’m incredibly thankful for their effort tonight, their commitment to me and our program.”

A number to know: 73

Despite no “bigs” on the roster for the game and being down to six scholarship players and four walk-ons who haven’t played much at all this season, the often offensively challenged Lobos scored 73 points, the second highest total vs. a Division I opponent this season.

• t1. 74 points — in a Jan. 2 loss to Nevada
• t1. 74 points — in a Feb. 17 loss to Wyoming (overtime)
• t3. 73 points — in Wednesday’s loss to Colorado State
• t3. 73 points — in a Feb. 22 win over Air Force

UNM did score 104 in a Dec. 15 win over NAIA Our Lady of the Lake in Houston and followed that two days later with 90 points in a Dec. 17 win over Division III LeTourneau.

The Lobos average 64.7 points per game this season.

Walk-ons shine: 3loy Medina and Logan Padgett

One byproduct of just four scholarship players available was the walk-ons got to play.

West Mesa High School graduate Eloy Medina and Logan Padgett combined for 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and hit 3-of-5 3-pointers.

Then came that second half corner 3…

Said Lobos assistant coach Ralph Davis of Medina:

“He brings to us something that we could use a little more of this year for sure,” said Davis. “He stayed patient, stay humble continue to work, and allowed himself to work himself into the lineup.”

As for Padgett, who had an even better game, he’s played more minutes this season than Medina and started plenty of D-I games last season at Samford playing for hid dad, and current Lobos assistant, Scott Padgett. Though he saw more action earlier in the season, Wednesday was Logan Padgett’s first game since Jan. 8 vs. Utah State. And his second half 3-pointer was his first triple since Dec. 17 vs. D-III LeTourneau.

He said it: Medina on Weir

Though he didn’t play much this season, Medina said he will forever be in debt to Paul Weir for giving him a chance.

“I’m glad I got at least one year with him, you know? He’s my coach — forever gonna call him coach. I’m thankful for him bringing me here. I’m thankful for that dude.”

Remember him?

Former Lobo Anthony Mathis, who couldn’t get off the bench under Craig Neal, then blossomed for two seasons under Weir before transferring to Oregon, is having himself a season in the NBA G-League.

Another number to know: 11.4%

The Lobos had a season-low 11.4% turnover rate on Wednesday and tied a season low for turnovers with eight.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas…

San Diego State on Wednesday beat UNLV, 71-62, and won its second consecutive Mountain West championship. It hopes to repeat the feat next week on the same court with a league tournament title.

Around the Mountain

There were two games in the Mountain West on Wednesday, one on Thursday, one Friday and one Saturday. And that’s all she wrote for the 2020-21 regular season.

WEDNESDAY
• Colorado State 87, New Mexico 73
• No. 19 San Diego State 71, UNLV 62

THURSDAY
• Wyoming at Utah State, 7:30 p.m. MT

FRIDAY
• Colorado State at Nevada, 7 p.m. MT

SATURDAY
• Utah State at Fresno State, 9 p.m.
• UNLV at Wyoming, 9 p.m. MT

Mountain West standings

Through Wednesday’s games:

14-3 San Diego State*
14-3 Colorado State
13-4 Utah State
14-6 Boise State
9-7 Nevada
9-10 Fresno State
8-9 UNLV
6-8 Wyoming
3-13 San Jose State
3-17 Air Force
2-15 New Mexico

* SDSU wins MWC championship despite CSU having one more game and a chance to finish with a 15-3 record thanks to the league ruling that the Feb. 3 and 5 games the UNM Lobos chose not to play against the Aztecs would count as “forfeits” not in the standings, but ONLY if those two games could decide champion and the tournament’s No. 1 seed. And they did as SDSU essentially got two wins added to their record.

MWC Tournament

The men’s tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada is March 10-13 and the first day of games are seeds 6-through-11.

UNM is locked in as the No. 11 seed and plays at 5 p.m. MT against the No. 6 team, which appears likely to be either UNLV or Fresno State — two teams the Lobos lost twice two, each, but also in competitive games. It could be worse for the Lobos, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile in the Pit…

It’s game time in … checks notes … Albuquerque?

There will be basketball in the Pit after all this season as the UNM women’s team hosts Colorado State for a pair of games Thursday and Friday with the MWC Championship on the line if the Lobos sweep the series and win both games.

Here is colleague Ken Sickenger’s article setting up the series:

Plus/minus

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

+5 Logan Padgett (10:43)
+5 Daniel Headdings (14:27)
+4 Emmanuel Kuac (17:32)
+2 Eloy Medina (8:50)
+1 Clay Patterson (5:53)
-12 Jeremiah Francis (34:48)
-16 Makuach Maluach (29:53)
-17 Saquan Singleton (25:24)
-20 Javonte Johnson (29:39)
-22 Isaiah Marin (22:51)

Stats and stats

Here is a digital version of the stats from Wednesday: Colorado State 87, New Mexico 73

Here is a more traditional .pdf state page to look at: Colorado State 87, New Mexico 73

Grammer’s Guesses

Welp, back to the losing ways. The Guesses went 0-2 on Wednesday, thinking it was a safe bet that a depleted Lobos roster wouldn’t stay within 18.5 points of the CSU Rams (wrong) and the SDSU Aztecs would blowout the UNLV Rebels (they didn’t).

So… I’m now 44-48-1 on the season and my daughter’s coin flip picks are 43-49-1 on the season.

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