The Boise State Broncos missed 40 shots on Saturday in the Pit.
They missed another 17 at the free throw line.
That’s usually the recipe for a whole lot of empty possessions and potential disaster of a game.
Instead, the visitors outrebounded UNM 52-28, including grabbing 25 offensive rebounds and cruised to a more lopsided win than the final 71-63 might suggest in front of an announced crowd of 8,279 in a Pit — a crowd clearly smaller than what was announced, but one that still did its part to let its frustrations be heard.
“Well, pretty obvious just why we came up on the losing end,” said Lobos coach Richard Pitino, back with his team after missing the previous two games out with COVID-19.
“They’re bigger. They’re stronger. They’re older, for sure. But we got to be scrappier. We got to be dirtier. We got to be meaner, especially when you’re as undermanned as we are.”
The loss is the fourth in a row for the Lobos (7-10, 0-4 in Mountain West), who open league play 0-4 for the second consecutive season and only the second time in the 23-season history of the Mountain West.
For the Broncos (12-4, 3-0 Mountain West), Saturday’s win was their ninth in a row this season and fourth in a row against the Lobos.
And, as Pitino noted, the Broncos are, indeed, bigger and more experienced than his young Lobos. Out of 358 Division I teams, Boise State is ranked 30th in terms of previous Division I experience on the roster and 14th in terms of average height.
And, yes, the undermanned Lobos are down three centers they entered the season counting on playing.
But none of that really made the final stat sheet sting any less.
While the Lobos did hold the MWC title-hopeful Broncos to just 35.5% shooting in the game, that stat doesn’t reflect how often the Broncos grabbed one, two or sometimes even three offensive rebounds only to finally score or get fouled.
The minus-24 rebound margin is the sixth worst in Lobo history, with Boise State senior center Mladen Armus doing the most damage in a four-point, 13-rebound game that included a career-high 10 offensive rebounds.
UNM had three offensive rebounds, total.
“Everybody on the team knows what the problem is and we know what we need to do,” said UNM freshman center Sebastian Forsling, who matched Armus’ four points and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
“And I need to take more responsibility, as well, because at the end of the day, I can’t let a guy have over 10 offensive rebounds. It’s just being tougher than the opponent.”
Four Broncos scored in double figures — and Boise State led by as many as 16 points in the second half.
The Lobos had a game-high 21 points, including seven assists, from Jaelen House, and three other players scored in double figures. A late run by UNM while Boise State missed free throw after free throw — all 17 misses were in the second half — cut the lead to eight, but the outcome was never really in question.
UNM’s 22 first-half points were a season low for a half this season and Boise State used a 12-0 run at the 4-minute mark of the opening half to cruise into the break up 32-22.
A week after scoring 23 points and hitting 8-of-12 shots, starting forward Javonte Johnson didn’t even attempt a shot Saturday, and fellow starter Saquan Singleton was 0-for-3.
Still, the Lobos showed some strides in transition defense since last week’s overtime loss to Utah State, and the team hardly quit — something that it seemed to do in the second half of Tuesday night’s 28-point loss at UNLV.
House scored 14 of his 21 points in the final 3:17 of the game, and backup guard K.J. Jenkins scored the team’s final five points in the final 13 seconds.
“Back to work,” Pitino said when asked what’s next for his team after another frustrating loss.
“I kind of took my time and listened to what they were talking about (after the game). They’re talking about the right things.
“So, it’s gonna be a process. We’re for playing some really good teams. That’s a team that has won nine games (in a row). That’s a team that could be an at-large (NCAA Tournament) team.
“Back to work Monday and Tuesday. That’s it. Keep it simple.”
UP NEXT: UNM at Colorado State, 8 p.m. Wednesday, CBS Sports Network, 770 AM/96.3 FM
BOX SCORE:Boise State 71, New Mexico 63
READ MORE: FOr more notes, analysis, videos, tweets and other odds & ends from Saturday’s game, read the postgame Emptying the Notebook column.