Emptying the Notebook: Aztecs make Lobos offense disappear - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: Aztecs make Lobos offense disappear

Viejas Arena in San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 31, 2022. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, video and whatever other odds & ends I could empty out of the old notebook after Monday’s 72-47 Lobos loss at San Diego State:

A number to know: 47

Oh, what a difference three days and some different jerseys can make.

The Lobos were held to 47 points on Monday night against San Diego State. That’s the fewest points (by nine) the Lobos have scored all season.

And while nobody at UNM thought last Friday’s win against San Jose State was necessarily a huge achievement, especially with perennial Mountain West power San Diego State waiting on Monday night, I think it’s safe to say nobody in the program saw this coming. The statistical comparisons between the two games just three days apart are staggering.

First off, here is what UNM coach Richard Pitino said after the San Jose State win on Friday to put into some context where the Lobos felt their offense was at — not just because of the SJSU win, but the second half vs. Fresno State last week and both road games the week before at Colorado State (74 points) and at Wyoming (91 points):

“Offensively, yes. That’s about as good of a game offensively as we can play and still doing it without a true low post threat,” Pitino said. “Now, San Jose State doesn’t have one either. So you know, we’ll continue to develop those guys. But yeah, it felt good. There’s a lot still to learn from.”

The Lobos thought of all their problems, offense wasn’t one of them.

Then came the Aztecs.

Here’s a look at some of the statistical differences from the two recent games:

• 86 vs. SJSU
• 46 vs. SDSU

Points scored per possession
• 1.323 vs. SJSU (2nd best of season)
• 0.681 vs. SDSU (worst of season)

• 21 vs. SJSU (most of season)
• 8 vs. SDSU (2nd fewest of season)

• 54.2% vs. SJSU (most of season vs. DI team)
• 30.8% vs. SDSU (worst of season)

Jaelen House
• 18 points/13 assists/3 turnovers vs. SJSU
• 3 points/0 assists/5 turnovers vs. SDSU

• 34.4 points per game this season
• 41 points vs. SJSU
• 13 points vs. SDSU

In the end, the game comes down to points, so let’s stick to those for now in terms of context.

UNM entered the game averaging 77.2 points per game. Monday marked the first time this season the Lobos have been held under 50 points and just the third time they were held under 60 points:

• 47 at San Diego State on Monday
• 56 at UNLV on Jan. 11
• 58 vs. Towson (in Las Vegas, Nev.) on Nov. 26

And the beating was spread out equally over both halves.

UNM has been held under 30 points in a half now in just seven of the 44 halves of basketball played this season. Two of them came on Monday:

• 22: 1st half vs. San Diego State (Monday)
• 22: 1st half vs. Boise State (Jan. 15)
• 25: 2nd half vs. San Diego State (Monday)
• 26: 1st half vs. Fresno State (Jan. 25)
• 26: 2nd half at UNLV (Jan. 11)
• 29: 1st half vs. Towson (Nov. 26 in Las Vegas)
• 29: 2nd half vs. Towson (Nov. 26 in Las Vegas)

In case you needed more proof that San Diego State’s defense is pretty good, there’s this: It moved to No. 3 in defensive efficiency on Monday night out of 358 Division I programs.

1. LSU
2. VCU
3. San Diego State
4. Texas Tech
5. Tennessee
6. Boise State

259. New Mexico

To be fair…

While SDSU is on the good feels swing of the pendulum right now, they’ve been as hot/cold as the Lobos Friday/Monday swing as well.

Here is a bullet point description of SDSU’s past five games, illustrating how hard to predict this entire league is this season from night to night:

• Beat CSU by 30 points
• Lose to Boise State while scoring only 37 points
• Beat UNLV by 25 points
• Lost to 1-5 Utah State by 18 points
• Beat UNM by 25 points

So, yeah. UNM isn’t the only team hard to figure out.

The gamer…

Here’s the gamer I filed from courtside Monday night in San Diego:

At least this guy showed up

While it was a rough go of it for pretty much every Lobo on the roster Monday, at least K.J. Jenkins showed up.

The junior guard scored 11 of his team-best 16 points in the second half and hit three of the team’s seven 3-pointers.

Through nine league games, the Lobos were beat badly twice — at UNLV and at San Diego State. In both, Jenkins was the only one who produced consistent scoring in what was otherwise a beat down from start to finish in both games.

He said it: K.J. Jenkins

“That’s just a really good look at what a championship-caliber team really looks like — the physicality, the discipline, the chemistry. That’s where we’re trying to get to.” — K.J. Jenkins, junior guard

Another number to know: 1

I didn’t even know you could get 1 fast break point, but the Lobos did on Monday night.

Of course SDSU had a lot more of them, outscoring UNM 25-1 in fast break points — something I can say I didn’t expect in this game, but here we are.

The Lobos’ lone “fast break” point came at the free throw line with just 53 seconds remaining when Taryn Todd was fouled after he stole the ball from Chad Baker-Mazara.

Todd missed the front end of the free throws and made the second.

So I went to check how the Lobos had been doing all year in fast break points, and honestly was surprised to find out the answer is, well, not very well (at least other than the plus-21 advantage in fast break points they had over NMSU in the 101-94 win in Las Cruces on Nov. 30).

UNM has lost the “fast break points” battle in 14 of 22 games this season including eight of nine league games.

The best UNM has done on fast break points:
• Plus-21 (25-4) at NMSU on Nov. 30
• Plus-11 (13-2) vs. Fresno State on Jan. 25

The worst UNM has done on fast break points:
• Minus-24 (25-1) at SDSU on Monday
• Minus-21 (23-2) vs. Utah State on Jan. 8


The announced attendance at Monday’s game in Viejas Arena: 10,951

Here are the opposing team’s announced attendances for every Lobos road game this season:

• 10,951 at SDSU (Monday)
• 7,224 at Nevada (Jan. 1)
• 7,115 at Colorado (Nov. 13)
• 6,516 at Colorado State (Jan. 19)
• 6,208 at New Mexico State (Nov. 30)
• 5,368 at Wyoming (Jan. 22)
• 3,860 at UNLV (Jan. 11)

Silver lining?

Earlier in the day Monday, the Mountain West announced several schedule changes around the league due to past COVID-19 game postponements.

As they related to the Lobos, two games were moved a day, they got the Dec. 28 Colorado State game rescheduled to Feb 17 and they learned they will not be getting the San Diego State game scheduled originally for Jan. 15 in the Pit back.

Losing out on San Diego State coming to the Pit is a big blow at the box office as the Aztecs are one of the best draws of the season in the Pit.

But after watching Monday’s game, maybe it’s not all that bad.

Here’s what I wrote about the schedule changes for the Journal on Monday:

And as noted in the article, Lobos coach Richard Pitino took to Twitter on Monday seeing if there’s anyone interested in visiting the Pit next week so the Lobos don’t both lose out on an entire home game for financial purposes, but also don’t have to sit idle without a game between Saturday’s game at Air Force and the Feb. 15 game against Wyoming.

A whole new world

Only one Lobo on the roster had ever played in Viejas Arena before Monday.

Jordan Arroyo, the 6-foot-7 walk-on center, played one minute in the Jan. 15, 2019, game in San Diego.

No current Lobo, including Arroyo, played in the Feb. 11, 2020, game in San Diego, and the two teams didn’t play at all a year ago, and if they had it would have been in Lubbock, Texas, anyway, before the Lobos opted out of playing the games.

Video: Pitino, Jenkins and Singleton

Here is video of the quick postgame interviews I did with Lobos coach Richard Pitino and players K.J. Jenkins and Saquan Singleton:

Meanwhile, down in Las Cruces…

There has been plenty of talk about how vaccination requirements and mask mandates are affecting some of the crowd at games. Like UNM, SDSU has a vaccination requirement to enter the arena and also now requires proof of a booster or recent negative COVID test to enter.

New Mexico State University has neither a vaccination requirement nor much enforcement of the state’s mask mandate. And on Monday, after having more than 12,000 fans at Saturday’s “Pack the Pan Am” game against Grand Canyon University, very few wearing masks based on the ESPN-plus online broadcast of the game or of the many photos posted either on social media or by the Las Cruces Sun-News of the game, the school announced it will close all concession sales the rest of the season to help enforce its mask mandate.

To be clear, the attendance the rest of the season after the Grand Canyon game is not expected to again even reach one half of what Saturday was, but that’s still a big move to cut off concession sales.

Here’s a link to the NMSU’s news release about the announcement: NMSU suspends food and drink sales during sporting events

The Show knows

Classes are virtual at SDSU this week I was told and not all students were around, but those from the best student section in the league, The Show, still know how to have a good time at a game. #Drink

And even if they weren’t exactly the best of hosts to the Lobos, they made one guy from New Mexico feel nice and welcome on Monday…

He said it: Pitino

This is a quote from Richard Pitino provided in the postgame notes put out by SDSU. It was not in my postgame interview video above, though he touched on some of the same things. I assume it was said in the postgame radio interview, but I’m not sure.

“Their size really, really disrupted us and bothered us. You could just tell they’re older, they’re stronger, they’re longer. And that definitely took us out of our rhythm offensively.

“They’re a terrific defensive team; we couldn’t really get anything in the post. If we didn’t hit about 13 threes, we probably weren’t going to have a chance.” — Richard Pitino, UNM coach

And on the Aztecs limiting Jaelen House to a 3 point/0 assist/5 turnover game:

“Yeah, he just wasn’t great. They’re physical and they’re really good on the ball and he wasn’t able to get around them. Then five turnovers is just too much. (It) wasn’t a great night for him. I said to him after the game, ‘you guys just got to flush this.’ I don’t know how much we can learn from it. We’ll watch it. Take tomorrow off and then just turn the page and go get Air Force.”— Pitino


Here are the plus/minus numbers from Monday’s games with minutes played in parenthesis:

+3 Jordan Arroyo (8:08)
0 Jeremiah Francis (7:16)
-5 Birima Seck (12:41)
-5 Taryn Todd (9:53)
-7 K.J. Jenkins (27:39)
-8 Saquan Singleton (19:47)
-16 Jay Allen-Tovar (26:08)
-20 Jaelen House (19:14)
-22 Javonte Johnson (19:28)
-22 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (28:29)
-23 Sebastian Forsling (21:17)

San Diego State

+29 Trey Pulliam (28:16)
+25 Keshad Johnson (26:22)
+24 Nathan Mensah (19:52)
+22 Lamont Butler (26:31)
+16 Matt Bradley (25:43)
+3 Adam Seiko (16:26)
+3 Keith Dinwiddie (9:00)
+2 Tahirou Diabate (15:03)
+2 Tyler Broughton (00:53)
+2 Triston Broughton (00:53)
+1 Chad Baker-Mazara (11:01)
-1 Jared Barnett (334
-1 Cade Alger (3:13)
-2 Joshua Tomaic (13:34)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 16 unique lineup combinations in Monday’s game and played 11 players. San Diego State used 20 different lineups and played 14 players.

Here’s a look at a few notable UNM lineups, starting with the starters:

Meanwhile, in Laradise…

There was a court storming in Laramie on Monday as the Cowboys pulled off a huge overtime victory in the Border War rivalry game with Colorado State.

There were two games around the Mountain West on Monday night with another busy week ahead of more games to come:

MONDAY<< yoming 84, Colorado State 78 (OT)<< an Diego State 72, New Mexico 47 TUESDAY<< ir Force at Utah State, 7 p.m. MT<< evada at UNLV, 7:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. MT (FS1)<< resno State at San Jose State, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT (CBSSN) WEDNESDAY<< o games scheduled THURSDAY<< an Jose State at Utah State, 7 p.m. MT<< oise State at Wyoming, 7 p.m. MT FRIDAY<< an Diego State at Colorado State, 7 p.m MT (FS1)<< evada at Fresno State, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT (FS1)

Mountain West standings

Through Monday’s games…

8-0 Boise State<< 1 Wyoming<< 3 Colorado State<< 2 San Diego State<< 3 Fresno State<< 4 UNLV<< 4 Nevada<< 5 Air Force<< 5 Utah State<< 8 New Mexico<< 7 San Jose State

Poll position

No Mountain West team was ranked in Monday’s new Associated Press Top 25 poll, but two received points in the “others receiving votes section.”

Boise State is three spots outside of being ranked with 33 points, appearing on 15 of 61 ballots with two voters ranking them as high as No. 21.

Colorado State, despite last week’s bad home loss to UNLV, stayed on one voter’s ballot at No. 23, accounting for all three points the Rams received in the poll this week.

MWC Players of the Week

UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton on Monday was named the Mountain West Player of the Week after averaging 32.5 points, including 42 in last week’s huge upset at Colorado State.

Boise State’s Tyson Degenhart, for the fifth time this season, was named the Freshman of the Week, averging over two games 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Here is the box score handed out on media row after Monday’s game: San Diego State 72, New Mexico 47Final stat sheet: San Diego State 72, New Mexico 47 pic.twitter.com/SEf4PlNrsL

Saturday: UNM at Air Force, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 770 AM/96.3 FM

Grammer’s Guesses

The Guesses got one right on Monday. My daughter, not as lucky.

We’re now tied at 17-24-1 on the season.

Not the usual empty arena pic this time around because there was a quick turnaround happening after the game for Tuesday’s System of the Down and Korn concert taking place in Viejas Arena, so the court had to be broken down and stage was being set up when I left.

Nevertheless, my job is not complete until I get my empty arena pic on the way out the door.

So, until next time, Viejas Arena, on the campus of San Diego State University…

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