Emptying the Notebook: Unlike Tuesday, Lobos run out of gas late - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: Unlike Tuesday, Lobos run out of gas late

Lobo guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. walks off the court after losing to Colorado State on Thursday at the Pit. Mashburn finished the game with 17 points. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, video and more odds & end I emptied out of the old notebook after Thursday night’s 83-68 Lobos loss to Colorado State in the Pit:

Closing time blues…

In the last ETN column from just a couple days ago after UNM beat No. 22 Wyoming, I led off with a section about how the Lobos were great in closing time.

Down the stretch of a close game with Wyoming, the Lobos made good on their opportunities and pulled out the win, thanks to contributions from several Lobos in key moments, be it key rebounds or huge buckets.

Well, that was then.

On Thursday night, the Lobos led with about 15 minutes to go. They were tied with under 13 minutes to play. It was still a four-point game (60-56) with 9 minutes remaining. And after a Jay Allen-Tovar bucket, the margin was still only seven points (71-64) with five minutes remaining in the game despite UNM having a 7 minute field goal drought.

They still had a chance.

OK, maybe not.

The Lobos clearly hit a wall (and not just David Roddy) at the end of the game, which maybe is at least in part due to the emotional roller coaster of the past 48 hours. The team that started league play 0-7 knocked off a nationally-ranked team in the Pit on Tuesday, fans stormed the court and all was good. Then Thursday, the Lobo offense that had been on fire couldn’t hit a shot and the star forward on the other end of the court was couldn’t be stopped.

It was a rough ending, to say the least.

Here’s a closer look at the stats for those final five minutes:

Final 5:00 UNM
• Points: 4
• FGs: 2-of-5
• FTs: 0-0
• Rebounds: 2 (1 offensive)
• Assists: 0
• Turnovers: 2

Final 5:00 CSU
• Points: 12
• FGs: 6-of-8
• FTs: 0-1
• Rebounds: 4 (2 offensive)
• Assists: 1
• Turnovers: 0

• David Roddy: 6 points, 3-4 FGs, 3 rebounds (2 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal

It wasn’t as though the Lobos were physically tired on Thursday. I don’t believe that was the case, at least not any more or less than any team this time of year. I mean, in the first 14 days of February, they played at Air Force and vs. NAIA Northern New Mexico while CSU over the first 14 days of February played four Mountain West games, including two on the road. One of those road games was an overtime game at then league-leading Boise State.

But the Lobos did seem very mentally drained down the stretch of Thursday’s game.

I saw some comments on social media saying they quit. I don’t buy that, but get it may have looked that way. I think they were just spent. There is a difference.

“It was emotional because just two games ago, we beat a Top 25 team,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said. “… I was worried about their energy coming into this game. And it was really good at the beginning. And you could tell we get fatigued as the game went on.

“This time of year, it’s all about teaching them from film, but making sure they’re rested.”

The gamer…

Here’s the gamer I filed Thursday night from the Pit media room…

Mask mandate lifted…

In the grand scheme of things, Thursday night’s game was just one game.

After what has been a very long bast two years of COVID kicking basketball out of the state for the 2020-21 season to this current season-long mask mandate in the Pit (and partial season vaccination mandate), the bigger news Thursday came out of Santa Fe.

Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham lifted the state’s indoor mask mandate on Thursday afternoon and UNM later decided to lift the Pit’s mask mandate (as did NMSU in Las Cruces for remaining Aggies games).

Here’s the story I put together Thursday afternoon in the hours between her surprise announcement and the time I had to get to game:

A number to know: 16

The Lobos on Thursday scored 16 more points in the first half than the second.

Through 26 games played this season, this was just the seventh time the Lobos scored fewer points in the second half than in the first.

And it was the first time it was more significant a drop than 8 points.

UNM games w/ fewer pts in 2nd half:
• 16 point drop: 42 1H/26 2H vs. Colorado State (Thursday)
• 8 point drop: 42 1H/34 2H vs. Utah State (Jan. 8)
• 6 point drop: 37 1H/31 2H vs. Norfolk State (Dec. 21)
• 4 point drop: 30 1H/26 2H at UNLV (Jan. 11)
• 2 point drop: 36 1H/34 2H at Nevada (Jan. 1)
• 2 point drop: 45 1H/43 2H vs. Western New Mexico (Nov. 22)
• 1 point drop: 37 1H/36 2H vs. UAB (Nov. 25)

UNM has had four (of 26) games with a half to half point swing of 15 or more points, with the other three coming on the positive side from the first to second half:

UNM 15-point swings from 1H to 2H:
• +23 points: 34 1H/57 2H at Wyoming (Jan. 22)
• +19 points: 22 1H/41 2H vs. Boise State (Jan. 15)
• -16 points: 42 1H/26 2H vs. Colorado State (Thursday)
• +15 points: 30 1H/45 2H vs. Wyoming (Tuesday)

On Thursday, Colorado State scored pretty close to the same amount in each half — 40 in the first, 43 in the second. And each half was played at basically the same tempo — 34 possessions for UNM in the first half, 33 in the second.

So, as alluded to in the game story and by both coaches after the game, the Lobos simply couldn’t score in the second half, be it whatever combination you want to credit toward CSU’s defensive adjustments, UNM’s inability to move the ball in the second half, just dumb luck or anything else.

But it was interesting seeing that from one half to the next all season, the Lobos have never fallen off a cliff offensively quite like they did Thursday night.

A football assist?

Nobody can say Danny Gonzales wasn’t trying his hardest to get basketball team a win on Thursday.

First, the UNM Lobo football coach was on the court in the second half during a timeout working the game officials…

And then after the game, he was doing his best to get David Roddy to quit CSU and come play football for him at UNM (nothing wrong with that, right?)…

Crying foul…

Both Colorado State and UNM fans were upset with the officiating on Thursday. That pretty much just means it was a normal game.

Truth is, it was an immensely more even whistle than what happened in the Jan. 19 game in Fort Collins. And that’s not to say that game was officiated poorly, but the foul count and free throw disparity was staggering for a college basketball game.

Jan. 19 at CSU
• Fouls called on UNM: 21
• Fouls called on CSU: 10
• Free throw shooting UNM: 2-of-4 (50.0%)
• Free throw shooting CSU: 20-of-26 (76.9%)

Thursday at UNM
• Fouls called on UNM: 14
• Fouls called on CSU: 14
• Free throw shooting UNM: 13-of-16 (81.3%)
• Free throw shooting CSU: 10-of-12 (83.3%)

In 12 Mountain West Conference games, Thursday was just the third in which the Lobos had an advantage in made free throws. All three were Pit games:

• +4 – Jan. 28 vs. San Jose State: 12 FTs – 8 FTs
• +3 – Thursday vs. CSU: 13 FTs – 10 FTs
• +1 – Jan. 25 vs. Fresno State: 15 FTs – 14 FTs

Failing to take advantage

So, while the Lobos did actually have a slight advantage in free throws made on Thursday, it was hardly the advantage coach Richard Pitino thought it could have been.

UNM picked up foul No. 6 of the second half on CSU with 10:43 remaining in the game, meaning every foul after that would put them in the bonus and send them to the free throw line.

The Lobos didn’t draw foul No. 7 of the half until the 9:15 mark and then the next with 7:36 left.

That was it.

“We got into the bonus somewhat early the second half,” Pitino said, “and shot a couple too many jump shots.”

A couple too many?

For a team suffering through an agonizingly poor offensive performance in the second half, the fact that the Lobos couldn’t find a way to take advantage of the freebies waiting for them for more than 10 minutes of the second half was a much larger factor in the final outcome than just about anything else.

Roddy rules…

If you didn’t know before Thursday, you now know know this David Roddy guy isn’t all that bad at basketball.

How good was his first visit to the Pit on Thursday? Well…

• Points: 31
• 2FG: 13-17 (76.5%)
• 3FG: 1-3 (33.3%)
• FT: 2-3 (66.7%)
• Rebounds: 9 (4 off.)
• Assists: 2
• Turnovers: 1
• Steals: 3

So, Richard Pitino, what did you think about the performance of that kid from Minnesota you once tried to recruit to the Golden Gophers back when you were still coaching there?

“We didn’t trap him a whole lot in the first half, and we were up 2 (at halftime), so we were kind of like, ‘Alright. If we don’t trap him, and we’re not going to give up shots to (CSU’s) other guys. Maybe that’s (going to work).'”

Well, it was clear early in the second half, that wouldn’t last.

“So, we thought that, then he got away from us a couple times, then we trapped him and he burnt us a couple times… I mean, it’s amazing that he’s not like a clear cut player the year in the league. Now, who knows how they finish. If they win it, I would think he would be.”

For those who maybe didn’t see all Roddy could do on Thursday, here are a few examples:

He can spin…

He can dunk…

He can shoot…

CSU coach Niko Medved after the game told me there isn’t always some coaching secret to getting Roddy going.

“Sometimes as a coach, we overthink things and drawing it up is just getting him the damn ball, you know what I mean?” Medved said. “That’s the play — how to get him the ball. We want to do different things to get him the ball in the post. And then, you know what David’s done such a great job of — he scores, he’s shooting the ball well, he puts it on the floor, he passes — but in the post what he’s done such a great job of is reading the help.”

So, you put a performance like Roddy had on Thursday on top of all the other fantastic games he’s had this season, and you get this: Roddy moved into the Top 10 of the KenPom Player of the Year rankings after Thursday’s game — a formula that is entirely statistics based.

Roddy is now sitting at No. 10 and joins another Mountain West player (Fresno State’s Orlando Robinson at No. 5) on the list.

By conference, here is the breakdown of the KenPom.com Player of the Year Top 10:

• B10 – 4
• MWC – 2
• WCC – 2 (both on Gonzaga)
• ACC – 1
• SEC – 1

Well, shoot…

With UNM, the offense isn’t the problem.

Except when it is.

After shooting a blistering 57.1% in the first half, the Lobos opened the second half hitting a grand total of three shots over the first 12 minutes. THREE!

UNM was 3-of-17 over the first 11 minutes, 54 seconds of the 2nd half.

Another number to know: 7

Richard Pitino played just seven players on Thursday night, the fewest players he has used in a game all season.

He had used as few as eight players in a game in five of the first 25 games, but never just seven.

Nobody was hurt, other than Emmanuel Kuac who has been out with a broken leg since the team’s Jan. 8 game vs. Utah State.

Attendance…

The announced attendance for Thursday’s game: 8,404

House cools off…

Jaelen House had just 2 points and was 0-for-6 shooting in the second half on Thursday.

But what an amazing stretch he had been on before that second half.

As has been reported, the 76 points he scored in back-to-back Mountain West games before Thursday was the most by any player in the league since Jimmer Fredette had 82 in back-to-back games in 2011.

Since his first half was still pretty good on Thursday, let’s take a look at how good those five halves were in his phenomenal run of shot making that started with that halfcourt buzzer beater in the 42-point outing at Air Force (the most ever allowed to a Mountain West player by the Falcons):

House’s 1st half at Air Force
• Points: 14
• 2FG: 4-5 (80.0%)
• 3FG: 2-3 (66.7%)
• FT: 0-0
• Assists: 2
• Steals: 2

House’s 2nd half at Air Force
• Points: 28
• 2FG: 7-10 (70.0%)
• 3FG: 2-4 (50.0%)
• FT: 8-9 (88.9%)
• Assists: 0
• Steals: 2

House’s 1st half vs Wyoming
• Points: 12
• 2FG: 3-6 (50.0%)
• 3FG: 2-4 (50.0%)
• FT: 0-0
• Assists: 2
• Steals: 1

House’s 2nd half vs. Wyoming
• Points: 22
• 2FG: 5-9 (55.6%)
• 3FG: 2-4 (50.0%)
• FT: 6-6 (100%)
• Assists: 4
• Steals: 1

House’s 1st half vs Colorado State
• Points: 11
• 2FG: 2-3 (66.7%)
• 3FG: 1-2 (50.0%)
• FT: 4-4 (100%)
• Assists: 2
• Steals: 5

UNM plays San Jose State on Sunday. the last time they played the Spartans, House had 18 points, 13 assists (most by any MWC player this season) and 7 rebounds.

VIDEO: Pitino, Jenkins and Johnson…

Here is video I put together of the postgame media session with Lobo coach Richard Pitino and Lobo players KJ Jenkins and Javonte Johnson:

Gap in games…

Thursday’s game was the first time the Rams had played in the Pit since March 2, 2019 — a span of 1,082 days.

That’s the longest gap between CSU visits to the Pit since a 1,140-day gap between Dec. 30, 1966 — the seventh game ever played in the Pit that opened the previous month — and Feb. 12, 1970, the Rams’ first season in the WAC.

The two have been conference foes ever since.

Why the long gap?

CSU was scheduled to play in Albuquerque on Dec. 28 before having to postpone due to COVID-19.

In 2020-21, health restrictions forced UNM to play all games outside the state.

In 2019-20, the league’s unbalanced schedule had the Rams skipping the annual trip to UNM.

And if you want more context on just how long ago that March 2, 2019, game was for CSU’s last trip to Albuquerque, consider these points:

• David Roddy was still in high school in Minnesota
• UNM starters that game included guys like Carlton Bragg and Anthony Mathis
• Drue Drinnon even played 14 minutes off the bench
• And the leading scorer in that game was Makuach Maluach

Speaking of Makuach Maluach…

How about this for some cool news?

During Thursday night’s game, I get a direct message on Twitter from a journalist in Australia letting me know former Lobo Makuach Maluach had just been officially named to the final roster for the Boomers (Australia’s National Team) that will be traveling to Japan to compete in the Asian Qualifiers ahead of the 2022 FIBA World Cup.

Plus/minus…

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

NEW MEXICO
-5 K.J. Jenkins (27:25)
-5 Saquan Singleton (18:12)
-6 Sebastian Forsling (14:26)
-13 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (37:01)
-15 Jaelen House (39:10)
-15 Javonte Johnson (29:33)
-16 Jay Allen-Tovar (34:13)

COLORADO STATE
+17 John Tonje (33:07)
+15 Kendle Moore (28:28)
+11 Isaiah Stevens (38:46)
+10 David Roddy (33:21)
+8 Chandler Jacobs (23:59)
+5 James Moors (15:22)
+5 Isaiah Rivera (4:08)
+4 Dischon Thomas (11:17)
0 Jalen Lake (11:32)

Line ’em up…

The Colorado State State Rams used 12 unique lineup combinations on Thursday while the UNM Lobos used just nine — one of the lowest of the season, I’m sure, in part because they played a season-low seven players.

Here’s a look at how some of the lineup combinations performed, starting with the starters:

STARTING LINEUP
• Who: House/Mashburn/Johnson/Allen-Tovar/Forsling
• Point differential: -7 (15-22)
• Time on court: 8:39
• NOTE: Starters going 0-7 isn’t great. But considering CSU had a 12-0 run (and led 12-2) in the first few minutes of the game, maybe just going down in the books at -7 wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

BEST LINEUP
• Who: House/Mashburn/Jenkins/Singleton/Forsling
• Point differential: +5 (5-0)
• Time on court: 0:25
• NOTE: I usually don’t like highlighting a lineup combination that played such a small sample size that whatever happened really isn’t very telling, but not only was this the only Lobo lineup combination to have a positive point differential, it’s not everyday you see a unit manage to score 12.0 points per minute, and not even have one made FG to show for it.

This group was on the court twice together.

With 6:56 left in the first half, it was on the floor officially for 0:00 seconds as Jaelen House was shooting two free throws. When he made both, he was subbed in for by Javonte Johnson without any time going off the clock, so the unit was already at +2.

Then for 25 seconds in the second half, the same group of five was on the court long enough for Jamal Mashburn Jr. to hit 3-of-4 free throws (1-of-2 at 13:29 and 2-of-2 at 13:04) before Mashburn was subbed out for by, again, Javonte Johnson.

(2nd) WORST LINEUP
• Who: House/Mashburn/Jenkins/Singleton/Allen-Tovar
• Point differential: -5 (16-21)
• Time on court: 10:02
• NOTE: Technically, the starting lineup listed above, thanks to that horrible 12-2 start, was the worst. But since we already covered them, let’s list another unit for this category.

This was the grouping on the court at the end of the game as CSU made its final late game surge. This unit had a +1 showing in the first half but was outscored 10-4 in the final 4:56 of the game when on the court together.

Meanwhile, up in Laramie…

So how are things going up in Laramie a couple days after the Lobos upset the No. 22 Cowboys?

Here’s Wyoming coach Jeff Linder letting us know…

Around the Mountain…

There were a pair of games around the Mountain (West) on Thursday. Here’s a look at those results and at some upcoming games…

THURSDAY
• Colorado State 83, New Mexico 68
• Nevada 90, San Jose State 60

FRIDAY
• no games scheduled

SATURDAY
• Air Force at Wyoming, 2 p.m. MT (TheMW.com)
• Utah State at Boise State, 4 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
• Colorado State at UNLV, 5 p.m. PT/6 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
• San Diego State at Fresno State, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)

SUNDAY
• New Mexico at San Jose State, 1 p.m. PT/2 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)

Mountain West standings…

Through Thursday’s games, here’s a look at the Mountain West standings:

11-2 Boise State
10-2 Wyoming
11-3 Colorado State
8-3 San Diego State
7-6 UNLV

Top five get bye to MWC Tournament quarterfinals

6-6 Fresno State
6-8 Nevada
6-8 Utah State
3-9 New Mexico
3-10 Air Force
0-14 San Jose State

Stats and stats…

Here is the postgame stat sheet: CSU 83, UNM 68

And if you prefer the digital version of the stats, here you go: CSU 83, UNM 68

Grammer’s Guesses…

The Guesses went 1-1 on Thursday and I’m now at 31-38-2 on the season.

My daughter’s unlucky coin flips were 0-2 on Thursday and she’s now at 29-40-2 on the season.

Up next…

The Lobos now travel to California for a second game against winless San Jose State on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT/2 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network and can be heard locally on 770 AM/96.3 FM.

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: Unlike Tuesday, Lobos run out of gas late


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