Emptying the Notebook: Lobos roll once cold shooting warms up - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: Lobos roll once cold shooting warms up

Lobo Taryn Todd, left, gets past Northern New Mexico’s defense for a breakaway dunk Friday night in the Pit. (Roberto E. Rosales/ Albuquerque Journal)
Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, videos and whatever other odds & ends I managed to empty out of the old notebook after Friday’s 78-46 Lobos win over Northern New Mexico College:

Well, shoot…

One week ago, in the often unforgiving for opposing offenses setting of Clune Arena, the UNM Lobos put up 91 points at Air Force.

That’s 91 point against an Air Force team that was allowing just 62 points per game and hadn’t allowed any team all season to score more than 75 before the Lobos lit up the scoreboard.

So you can understand there being some groans from some fans inside the Pit on Friday night when they watched their Lobos open the game ice cold from he field.

Just look at the difference between the first 29 shots taken in the game by the Lobos and the second 29 shots:

UNM’s first 29 shots
• 7-of-29 FGs (24.1%)
• 2-of-9 3FGs (22.2%)
• 0 FTs
• 16 points
• Score: UNM 16, NNMC 15 (UNM +1)

UNM’s second 29 shots
• 19-of-29 FGs (65.5%)
• 4-of-10 3FGS (40.0%)
• 5-5 FTs (100%)
• 47 points
• Score: UNM 63, NNMC 37 (UNM +26)

“It’s a 40 minute game. It’s not two games,” said Lobos coach Richard Pitino. “We were sleepwalking (early in the game) because we weren’t making shots. And I think some of that has to do with we scored 91 and you’re making everything versus Air Force. …

“Were we a masterpiece by any means? No. But second half was obviously a lot better.”

Overall, the Lobos offense was just fine, putting up 46 points in the second half and leading scorer Jamal Mashburn Jr. was again steady with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

Twelve of the 13 Lobos who played scored, including all three walk-ons on the team, so UNM got plenty of good out of the game.

And it didn’t seem as though the Lobos were taking bad shots early, they just weren’t falling. And based on the rest of the season, this team should be just fine if they’re taking good shots.

The gamer

Here’s the gamer I filed from the Pit on Friday night for the Journal:

A number to know: 46

Northern New Mexico scored just 46 points on Friday (22 in the first half and 24 in the second).

It was the lowest point total for a Lobos opponent since Arkansas-Pine Bluff scored 43 in an 83-43 UNM win in the Pit on Dec. 17, 2016, in the final season of the Craig Neal era.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season, a span of 378 Lobo basketball games, a UNM opponent has scored fewer than the 46 points the Northern New Mexico Eagles scored just 11 times.

Here’s a look:

38 – UNM 48, Wyoming 38 (Feb. 11, 2012)
40 – UNM 92, New Orleans 40 (Nov. 11, 2011)
41 – UNM 65, Idaho State 41 (Nov. 30, 2011(
41 – UNM 44, USC 41 (Dec. 10, 2011)
41 – UNM 67, San Jose State 41 (Jan. 31, 2015)
42 – UNM 81, Air Force 42 (March 2, 2013)
42 – UNM 53, Wyoming 42 (March 2, 2013)
43 – UNM 83, Ark.-Pine Bluff (Dec. 17, 2016)
44 – UNM 58, SDSU 44 (Feb. 22, 2014)
45 – UNM 65, UNLV 45 (Feb. 18, 2012)
45 – UNM 72, Fresno State 45 (Jan. 12, 2013)

46 – seven tied, including Friday night’s game (UNM 78, Northern NM 46)

JAT’s 2nd half flurry…

Jay Allen-Tovar didn’t exactly have a great first half.

In fact, with just two points, one rebound and being the only Lobo with a negative plus/minus figure in the first half (UNM was outscored by 3 in the 11:49 he was on the floor), it was the type of half his critics might have taken to Twitter to complain about after the game.

And we all know, he reads them all.

Instead…

“I told him at halftime, you have one more rebound than I do,” Lobo coach Richard Pitino said.

Pitino added he knows Allen-Tovar doesn’t like playing the 5. In fact, Pitino would rather him be a full-time 4, but the roster is down three bigs and needs somebody to play the 5 without disappearing.

“I know, Jay. You think you’re a 4. I think you’re a 4,” Pitino said to reporters about the conversations he’s had with his 6-foot-9 junior forward. “I can’t make trades. I can’t sign guys to 10-day contracts. So you need to play with more enthusiasm and energy. And I thought he did that better in the second half, for sure.”

The results…

JAT first half
• Points: 2
• Rebounds: 1
• Minutes: 11:49
• Shooting: 1-4
• Plus/minus: -3

JAT second half
• Points: 8
• Rebounds: 2
• Minutes: 6:07
• Shooting: 4-5
• Plus/minus: +6

So, yeah. He did better.

Here’s a look at his four buckets in the second half, all at the rim and three being highlight reel dunks in the first 5:05 of the second half as the Lobos extended their lead.

• 19:26 (2H) — A bucket off a BLOB (baseline out of bounds) play on UNM’s first possession of the second half, which could have been worth three points had Javonte Johnson not committed a lane violation on Allen-Tovar’s made free throw…

• 17:37 (2H) — A dunk after the play before Allen-Tovar went to the ground hard hoping to get a whistle for a foul and was so slow to get up and back on defense, the Lobos had already grabbed a rebound off a missed NNMC shot and House passed ahead to the big man for this dunk…

• 17:07 (2H) — OK, just 30 seconds later and with even more space on his approach to the rim, Allen-Tovar decided to bust out the windmill…

• 14:51 (2H) — Another play started by UNM’s defense sets up Allen-Tovar for another dunk on a fast break…

Perfection…

They didn’t shoot near as many as they would have liked, but they made the most of the ones they got.

UNM was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line on Friday, marking the first time this season the team hit 100% of their free throws.

In fact, it was the first time the Lobos have been perfect at the free throw line since a 14-of-14 showing against San Jose State in the first round of the 2020 Mountain West Tournament on March 4, 2020.

Dont’t compare scores!!!

Don’t compare scores!

Don’t do it!

There is nothing to be learned from comparing what one team did against a team vs. what another team did against the same team!

OK, having said all that, let’s compare some scores.

Northern New Mexico has played all three regional Division I hoops teams this season — NMSU, UNM and UTEP.

Here’s how each game finished:

• UTEP 88, NNMC 53 (Nov. 16)
• NMSU 93, NNMC 60 (Dec. 18)
• UNM 78, NNMC 46 (Saturday)

So, the final margins were similar 35 points, 33 points and 32 points. And the Lobos, who have struggled with defense all season, naturally played the best defense, holding NNMC to just 46 points.

Some pics…

Here’s a tweet of some of the pictures Journal photographer Roberto E. Rosales took during Friday’s game:

Why were they playing Northern again?

If you thought a Friday night nonconference game in the Pit seemed weird, you’re right. It was the first February nonconference game for the Lobos since playing Georgia State in 2001.

And it wasn’t exactly the top choice for the Lobos.

But, as has been written several times, here’s a quick recap on why UNM was playing NNMC on Friday:

• Late December and early January COVID postponements caused chaos in the Mountain West schedule.

• When the league reshuffled several games, UNM lost out on San Diego State making a trip this season to Albuquerque. That basically left UNM with just one game scheduled between Jan. 31 at San Diego State and Feb. 15 (next Tuesday) at home against Wyoming.

• UNM tried finding a Division I opponent, but as you might imagine finding a DI team in mid-February who both has an opening in the schedule and would come for a reasonable price (the home team pays visiting teams to play these games, remember).

• Long story short, rather than go 15 days with one game, or 10 straight days without a game, the Lobos paid NNMC $5,000 to both recoup one home game for those fans who wanted to come and for the players in an effort to avoid any sort of rust setting in before resuming league play on Tuesday.

Comeback Kuac?

Don’t go expecting Emmanuel Kuac to make a comeback anytime soon from the broken leg he suffered Jan. 8 against Utah State. He won’t be playing again this season.

But it was still nice to see him at Friday’s game without crutches and even putting up some shots in the Pit before the game.

K.J. off the bench…

K.J. Jenkins got his first start as a Lobo last weekend at Air Force. The sharpshooter off the bench all season has been a solid veteran presence for the Lobos and is the team’s third leading scorer.

Friday, he was back to his reserve role, where I imagine he’ll stay the rest of the season, adding both stability and scoring for the second unit. But he did struggle some against Northern New Mexico.

Jenkins, who has been getting in foul trouble pretty regularly, had four fouls and was 2-of-9 shooting before finally hitting a second half 3-pointer and then he had a nice assist on the next play.

He finished the game with 7 points on 3-of-11 shooting (1-of-6 from 3-point range), one assist, one steal in 15:03.

The shooting struggles on Friday came with some visible frustration for Jenkins. And the last thing Richard Pitino wants from the junior guard is for him to start passing up open shots.

“I told him alright, you missed some 3s. What’s the big deal?” Pitino said after the game. “There’s way worse things in life than not making a shot. And you look like it’s really bothering you. …

“You work very, very hard. You’re a terrific shooter. I don’t care if you make it or miss it. I mean, I’d prefer if you made it, but I’m not ever going to bench you if you miss shots, if they’re good shots. I will always play you. You can ask any player that’s played for being the past. Just keep shooting.”

Familiar faces…

The Northern New Mexico College bench included head coach Ryan Cordova, the longtime head men’s coach and Athletic Director of the Española-based school. But assisting him was former Lobos great J.R. Giddens, the women’s head coach at NNMC, and former NMSU Aggies great Billy Keys, the Eagles’ men’s assistant.

Also, in case you missed it in Friday’s Albuquerque Journal or posted since Thursday night on the website, here’s a feature I wrote on the return of Keys to the Pit:

Attendance

The announced attendance for Friday’s NNMC at UNM game in the Pit was 8,214.

Anyone who was at the game knows that may very well be double the actual attendance for this unscheduled, Friday night game against an NAIA opponent. Since season ticket holders got in for free, their tickets counted toward the attendance, hence the announced attendance figure always being so much more than that actual attendance.

Video: Pitino, Mashburn Seck

Here’s the postgame video I took of Richard Pitino, Jamal Mashnurn Jr. and Birima Seck.

Another number to know: 10

Freshman center Sebastian Forsling had a career-high 10 rebounds on Friday night.

The 7-footer from Sweden, who is a regular starter but hasn’t started the past two games, also had a season-best six offensive rebounds for UNM, the most since Rod Brown had six offensive boards in a win over Dixie State a season ago on Jan. 13, 2021.

First thing’s first

There were some notable firsts for UNM’s three walk-on players on Friday night.

• First game in the UNM career of walk-on Safi Fino-A-Laself.

And here was Fino-A-Laself’s first Division I shot attempt, 3-point attempt and points scored:

• It was the first points scored of the season by Jordan Arroyo, who had a nice up and under for the bucket here…

• It was the first points vs. a DI team this season for Clay Patterson, who went 2-for-4 for the Lobos and scored four points. He also had five points vs. Western New Mexico earlier this season. Here are two of his points from Friday…

Plus/Minus

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

UNM
+23 Sebastian Forsling (17:16)
+18 Birima Seck (18:05)
+17 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (25:11)
+16 Jaelen House (19:42)
+15 Saquan Singleton (16:47)
+15 K.J. Jenkins (15:03)
+13 Taryn Todd (20:06)
+13 Jeremiah Francis (12:21)
+10 Javonte Johnson (21:20)
+6 Clay Patterson (6:48)
+6 Jordan Arroyo (6:48)
+5 Safi Fino-A-Laself (6:48)
+3 Jay Allen-Tovar (17:56)

NORTHERN NM
+1 Alejandro Hernandez (2:14)
-5 Bruno Guedes (5:06)
-6 Damione Thomas (16:19)
-11 Keyshawn Keys (12:56)
-13 Ricardo Zambrano (27:49)
-13 Chano Herrera (10:29)
-16 Jamal Harris (18:25)
-21 Joe Saterfield Jr. (21:26)
-22 Jared Perez (24:50)
-24 Mohommad Jafari (24:59)
-30 Tyrique Weaver (35:27)

Line ’em up

Both the UNM Lobos and NNMC used 16 lineup combinations on Friday, many of those numbers for the home team came in the second half when Richard Pitino was emptying the bench and getting in all three walk-ons, including one making his Lobos debut.

Here’s a look at some of the key lineup combinations the Lobos used on Friday night and how effective they were, starting with the starters.

STARTING LINEUP
• Who: House/Mashburn/Singleton/Johnson/Allen-Tovar
• Point differential: +2 (15-13)
• Time on court: 8:36
• NOTE: Looks like the Lobos have four regular starters — House, Mashburn, Johnson and Allen-Tovar. The last spot in the starting five is a work in progress. In the past three games, Pitino has used the last spot to start Sebastian Forlsing, as a classic center, K.J. Jenkins, a sharpshooting guard, and Saquan Singleton, the 6-6 versatile wing that I think will get big minutes Tuesday trying to defend against Hunter Maldonado.

On Friday, the starting five had a lineup-best five assists (no other lineup had more than three assists together).

BEST LINEUP
• Who: Francis/Jenkins/Todd/Seck/Forsling
• Point differential: +7 (11-4)
• Time on court: 5:33
• NOTE: It may have been the best lineup on Friday, but there’s a decent chance the combination of Francis/Jenkins/Todd/Seck/Forsling don’t actually see the floor together again this season.

The best part of this group’s time on the flor was this stat: 10 rebounds (or nearly two per minute played).

HONORALE MENTION BEST LINEUP
• Who: Francis/Fino-A-Laself/Patterson/Seck/Arroyo
• Point differential: +5 (7-2)
• Time on court: 2:37
• NOTE: How could I not include at leas a mention of a lineup combination that included three walk-ons, each of whom scored?

WORST LINEUP
• Who: Jenkins/Mashburn/Todd/Allen-Tovar/Seck
• Point differential: -2 (1-3)
• Time on court: 0:47
• NOTE: Hard to pick which lineup combination really was the worst in a game like Friday where all the lineup combinations either played pretty well together or played so briefly it’s hard to read much into their time together. That’s probably the case here.

Nevertheless, for the sake of picking a “worst” lineup of the game for the Lobos as I do after every game, I took the easy way out and just went with the lowest point differential (-2), despite this group not even playing a minute together.

Up next…

The Lobos host Wyoming at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Pit. The Cowboys (9-1) are tied in the loss column with Boise State (10-1) atop the Mountain West standings and could be ranked when they come to the Pit. UNM lost, 93-91, in the final seconds on the road at Wyoming on Jan. 22.

Then on Thursday, the Lobos will host another league title hopeful in the Colorado State Rams (9-3), who were nationally ranked when they were supposed to play the Lobos in the Pit on Dec. 28 before a COVID pause hit their roster. UNM was in it until the final minute in a 80-74 loss Dec. 19 vs. the Rams in Fort Collins.

Around the Mountain

There were four games around the Mountain West on Friday night — three league games and UNM’s rare non-conference tilt. Here’s a look at those results and a a listing of some upcoming games:

FRIDAY
• Nevada 85, Utah State 72
• Colorado State 65, Fresno State 50
• Boise State 69, UNLV 63

• New Mexico 78, (NAIA) Northern New Mexico 46

SATURDAY
• Air Force at San Diego State, 5 p.m. PT/6 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
• Wyoming at San Jose State, 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT (TheMW)

SUNDAY
• Colorado State at Boise State, 2 p.m. MT (FS1)

Mountain West standings

Through Friday’s games, here are the Mountain West standings:

10-1 Boise State
9-1 Wyoming
9-3 Colorado State
6-3 San Diego State
6-5 Fresno State
6-6 UNLV
6-7 Utah State
4-8 Nevada
3-8 Air Force
2-8 New Mexico
0-11 San Jose State

Stats and stats

Here is a look at the postgame stat sheet: New Mexico 78, Northern NM 46

And here is a link to the digital version of the stats: New Mexico 78, Northern NM 46

Grammer’s Guesses

The Guesses went just 1-2 on Friday and I’m at 27-32-2 on the season.

But the good news was it was a long overdo 3-0 night for my daughter’s coin flip picks. So the #RallyCoin is starting its comeback getting all three games right. She’s now at 25-34-1 on the season.

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: Lobos roll once cold shooting warms up


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