Emptying the Notebook: Mid-range Mash nearly pulls it off on road - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: Mid-range Mash nearly pulls it off on road

Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif, on Feb. 28, 2022. (Geoff Gramer/Albuquerque Journal)

FRESNO, Calif. — Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, video and whatever else I could manage to empty out of the old notebook after Monday’s 71-68 Lobos loss at Fresno State:

‘Mid-range Mash’ at it again…

Jamal Mashburn Jr. on Monday night started the game missing his first eight shots.

But as we’ve heard him, and Lobo coach Richard Pitino, say all season, the sophomore shooting guard trusts the work he puts in and his confidence isn’t going to waver.

He followed his 0-for-8 start by hitting 9 of his next 14 shots, scoring 27 points (20 of those came in the second half) and he went shot for shot down the stretch with future NBA center Orlando Robinson.

“I know I’m gonna miss some shots,” Mashburn told me after the game. “And I know that throughout the course of the game there’s gonna be ebbs and flows of me missing. It’s just a game. I got to be able to take the punches. How I respond to it — you know, some guys would get unconfident. Maybe not take the next shot. But when I’m missing, I find that (next) opportunity to take the next step and be more aggressive.”

The back and forth down the stretch between Mashburn and Robinson reminded me of the back and forth Jaelen House in the Feb. 15 win over Wyoming when the point guard went shot for shot — actually, I should say big shot for big shot — with Wyoming forward Graham Ike throughout the second half.

On Monday night, “mid-range Mash,” as I have been calling him this season, was in his zone in the second half. Not necessarily from 3-point range or at the rim, but from 15-18 feet (he was also 8-of-9 at the free throw line) with his usual mechanically consistent pull up jumper that he trusts so much.

In an era of dunks and deep 3s showing up on highlight reels every night, and analytics saying the worst shot in the game is a long 2-pointer, Mashburn has carved a niche as probably the best mid-range shooter I’ve seen in a real long time.

“His habits are so insanely solid,” Pitino said after the game of Mashburn and the trust he has in him to keep shooting. “That allows him to be as confident as he is. It doesn’t matter if he misses a few shots. He’s gonna stick with it.

“He really got into a great rhythm in the second half with that mid-range.”

Here’s a look at four of them from the second half of a tight game…

• 2:36 2H – Gave UNM a 66-65 lead

• 10:05 2H – Gave UNM a 57-54 lead … while analyst Doug Gottlieb points out when Mashburn is in this groove, it’s simple: “You’ve got to deny him the basketball.”

• 11:58 2H – Gives UNM a 53-51 lead

• 14:18 2H – Pulled UNM within 51-44

Mashburn and House scored 34 of UNM’s 37 points in the second half and the way Mashburn was rolling, there was no question why you draw up this last-second play for him out of a timeout with 4.2 seconds remaining — a moment that Fresno State was likely going to try to foul up 3, meaning the play had to be executed quickly, even with just 4.2 left on the clock.

I have no doubt if this were a mid-range jumper for the tie and not a 3-point attempt, Mashburn would have sent the game to overtime.

The gamer…

Here is the game story I filed from the Save Mart Center in Fresno on Monday night…

A number to know: 9

The Fresno State loss means the Lobos are now locked into the No. 9 seed in next week’s Mountain West Tournament and will play the No. 8 seed at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 9.

And the most likely team to hold that No. 8 spot based on the final games remaining: Nevada, coached by former Lobo coach Steve Alford with associate head coach Craig Neal, another former Lobo head coach.

House of steal…

Jaelen House had three more steals on Monday night, giving him 63 on the season and putting him in some pretty select company on UNM’s all-time steals list for a season.

Here’s a look at one of Monday’s steals from the second half that he turned into a breakaway layup…

House’s three steals on Monday moves him into UNM’s Top 10 for single season steal totals, tied with Lobo great Danny Granger.

A closer look and the Lobos all-time steal leaders for a season:

UNM single season steal leaders:
1. 84 – Hunter Greene (1986-87)
2. 80 – Kelvin Scarborough (1984-85)
3. 78 – Kelvin Scarborough (1986-87)
4. 77 – Phil Smith (1983-84)
5. 70 – Hunter Greene (1987-88)
6. 69 – Gabe Nava (1973-74)
7. 66 – Charles Smith (1995-96)
t8. 63 – Jaelen House (2021-22)
t8. 63 – Danny Granger (2004-05)
t10. 62 – Mark Walters (2005-06)
t10. 62 – Willie Banks (1991-92)

Another happy House note…

Jaelen House hit 3-of-3 free throws on Monday night, extending to 37 his streak of consecutive made free throws (35 in a row in league play and a 2-for-2 night on Feb. 11 vs. Northern New Mexico).

House’s game pushed him into first in the race for the FT% crown in conference games, passing CSU’s Isaiah Stevens.

Only three qualifying players in the league are even shooting 78% from the line and House and Stevens are at better than 91% with Nevada’s Grant Sherfield at 89.5%.

FT% in MWC games
1. Jaelen House, UNM – 91.549%
2. Isaiah Stevens, CSU – 91.525%
3. Grant Sherfield, Nevada – 89.473%

He said it: Senior night

Saturday’s regular-season finale game against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels is also the Lobos senior night for Saquan Singleton, Clay Patterson and Jordan Arroyo.

“One more chance at it,” said Richard Pitino of the upcoming game. “Saquan, Clay and Jordan — Let’s send them off the right way.”

Rooftop radio…

Due to COVID matters and social distancing, visiting radio, and all television broadcasts, including Monday’s FS1 team of Daron Sutton and Doug Gottlieb, have been calling games this season in the Save Mart center from the upper deck.

For UNM’s usual courtside radio duo of Robert Portnoy and Hunter Greene calling the game for 770 AM/96.3 FM KKOB, this was their vantage point in the arena…

Stats won’t show it, but…

If you only look at scoring, you wouldn’t know Javonte Johnson had a solid game Monday with nine rebounds, two steals, a block and a team-best plus-3 in the plus/minus.

His 5 points were fourth best on the team on a night that was dominated scoring-wise by two teammates. While his points continue to be inconsistent from game to game, his helping in so many other ways on Monday was a real positive sign.

It’s easy to say he disappears in games when the points aren’t there, but Monday made sure his presence was felt anyway.

And it’s worth noting that freshman Sebastian Forsling also had a big presence in the game without a stat line to show for it (22 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 4 fouls).

Much as he did against Graham Ike in the first half on Feb. 15 in the upset over Wyoming, Forsling had some good minutes defensively against the best center in the league in Orlando Robinson.

His only points, coincidently, came off this assist from Javonte Johnson…

February in the books…

A weird February is in the books for the UNM Lobos — one that had one league game scheduled in the first 14 days of the month and six in the final 13.

Here are the results with some context of how the program has done in the month of February since its last NCAA Tournament appearance:


(Richard Pitino era)
• 2022: 4-4* (.500)

(Paul Weir era)
• 2021: 1-3
• 2020: 2-6
• 2019: 2-5
• 2018: 5-2

• TOTAL: 10-16 (.385)

(Craig Neal era)
• 2017: 3-4
• 2016: 3-5
• 2015: 0-8
• 2014: 6-1**

• TOTAL: 12-18 (.400)

* Includes the unusual Feb. 11 nonconference win over NAIA Northern New Mexico
** Last NCAA Tournament team at UNM


The announced attendance on Monday night in the Save Mart Center for UNM at Fresno State in the home finale for the Bulldogs: 4,131

Here is a list of the announced attendances at each of the Lobos true road games this season:

• 10,951 at SDSU (Jan. 31)
• 7,224 at Nevada (Jan. 1)
• 7,115 at Colorado (Nov. 13)
• 7,102 at Utah State (Feb. 22)
• 6,516 at Colorado State (Jan. 19)
• 6,208 at New Mexico State (Nov. 30)
• 5,368 at Wyoming (Jan. 22)
• 4,131 at Fresno State (Feb. 28)
• 3,860 at UNLV (Jan. 11)
• 2,723 at Air Force (Feb. 5)
• 1,682 at San Jose State (Feb. 20)

Another number to know: 68

The 68 points scored on Monday by the Lobos was just the fourth time a team has scored 68 or more points in a regulation, non-overtime game against Fresno State this season. It was also the most points Fresno State allowed on its home court this season.

The Bulldogs’ average points allowed per game is 57.8.

Most points vs. Fresno State this season
77 – Nevada on Jan. 21 in Reno
71 – San Francisco on Dec. 8 in San Francisco
68 – New Mexico on Monday in Fresno
68 – UNLV on Jan. 14 in Las Vegas

(Boise State also scored 68 on Fresno State, but in an overtime game on Jan. 28. The game was tied 53-53 at the end of regulation.)

What are you supposed to do?

When Orlando Robinson, the best center in the Mountain West Conference, is knocking down 3s on the pick and pop, what are you supposed to do?

I showed the missed 3 up above that was the final play of the game, but this was the dagger that put Fresno State up 3 in the final minute.

Lobo fans may want to look away.

Included in this tweet is video of pretty much every stat accumulated in the game by Robinson (such videos get made regularly of players who are about to be drafted into the NBA).

While technically a junior, Monday was Fresno State’s last home game and quite possibly Orlando Robinson’s final home game for the Bulldogs.

Yet another number to know: 8

UNM committed just eight turnovers on Monday. They average 11.7.

In the Lobos’ first 26 games, they kept their turnovers in the single digits five times.

They are now on a four-game streak of single-digit turnovers.

Meanwhile, in Laramie…

San Diego State went to Laradise and knocked off the Wyoming Cowboys on Monday night in a huge game that some national pundits think may have just locked in a fourth at-large team from the conference into the NCAA Tournament.

By the way, Matt Bradley’s 30 points in the huge road win was a season high for the Cal transfer.

Good luck…

Speaking of Bradley’s heroics on the road Monday in Laramie, how’s this for a problem those making postseason all-conference teams get to try and decide in the next week?

Tell me which one of these six players you leave off your five-man first team All-Mountain West?

• Matt Bradley, San Diego State
• Bryce Hamilton, UNLV
• Graham Ike, Wyoming
• Hunter Maldonado, Wyoming
• Orlando Robinson, Fresno State
• David Roddy, Colorado State

Oh, and here’s another problem: What if Boise State wins the conference title? Do you then force a Broncos player onto the First Team and leave off two of these six players from first team instead of just one? Some believe strongly in the idea that the league champion should have at least one first-team selection, even if the player didn’t necessarily have the best individual season.

For the record, I’m not one of those people. I get the argument. It sounds good. But individual player awards can, in fact, be about individual players sometimes without it being a bad thing or sending the wrong message about the team-aspect of the game.

VIDEO: Pitino and Mashburn…

Here is a video of my postgame interviews with Lobo coach Richard Pitino and sophomore guard Jamal Mashburn Jr.

Second time through…

UNM has now played seven teams twice this season with a 2-5 record in the second game.

UNM was better in Game 2 vs. Wyoming (a win) and Fresno State on Monday on the road, though the Fresno State result was still a loss. Nevertheless, clearly a better performance overall on Monday than in the first game in the Pit.

Here’s an update to this reoccurring stat I’ve been including in recent ETN columns:

• Game 1: W, 101-94 in Las Cruces (Nov. 30)
• Game 2: L, 78-76 (OT) in Abq. (Dec. 6)
Nonconference, and an unusual turnaround from Game 1 to Game 2 of less than a week

• Game 1: L, 93-91 in Laramie (Jan. 22)
• Game 2: W, 75-66 in Albuquerque (Feb. 15)

• Game 1: L, 80-74 in Fort Collins (Jan. 19)
• Game 2: L, 83-68 in Albuquerque (Feb. 17)

• Game 1: W, 86-70 in Albuquerque (Jan. 28)
• Game 2: L, 71-55 in San Jose (Feb. 20)

• Game 1: L, 90-87 (OT) in Albuquerque (Jan. 8)
• Game 2: L, 81-56 in Logan (Feb. 22)

• Game 1: W, 91-77 at U.S. Air Force Academy (Feb. 5)
• Game 2: W, 69-65 in Albuquerque (Saturday)

• Game 1: L, 65-50 in Albuquerque (Jan. 25)
• Game 2: L, 71-68 at Fresno State (Monday)

Familiar face…

I’m always happy every season to see this guy greet me at the media entrance of the Save Mart Center…


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

+3 Javonte Johnson (34:15)
+3 Taryn Todd (4:02)
+1 Sebastian Forsling (22:07)
0 Jaelen House (33:04)
-4 Saquan Singleton (7:30)
-5 Jay Allen-Tovar (31:08)
-6 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (38:15)
-7 K.J. Jenkins (29:39)

+11 Orlando Robinson (37:14)
+8 Jordan Campbell (24:59)
+6 Destin Whitaker (5:45)
+6 Isaiah Hill (37:16)
+6 Leo Colimerio (27:34)
+2 Robert Vaihola (7:25)
-1 Anthony Holland (35:12)
-3 Donavan Yap (2:44)
-4 Deon Stroud (2:36)
-8 Braxton Meah (2:46)
-8 Junior Ballard (16:29)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos used 10 unique lineup combinations on Monday night and the Bulldogs used 12. Here’s a look at how some of the Lobo lineups fared in the game, starting with the starters…

• Who: House/Mashburn/Jenkins/Johnson/Allen-Tovar
• Point differential: -3 (22-25)
• Time on court: 14:45
• NOTE: If this lineup is in the game, the shots better be falling because you’re not putting this group out there for its defense.

So when the Lobos were off to a cold shooting start to the game, the overall success of this starting five was already doomed as it was outscored by six (16-10) in the first 7:03 of the game before Richard Pitino went to the bench for the first time.

There was a nice plus-5 stretch with these guys on the floor midway through the second half.

• Who: House/Mashburn/Johnson/Allen-Tovar/Forsling
• Point differential: +5 (17-12)
• Time on court: 7:13
• NOTE: As it has in other games, this grouping seemed to work because there is some comfort for Johnson and Allen-Tovar sliding to more natural positions — Johnson to the 3 and Allen-Tovar to the 4 — thanks to Sebastian Forsling getting time at center.

• Who: Mashburn/Jenkins/Singleton/Allen-Tovar/Forsling
• Point differential: -6 (2-8)
• Time on court: 2:54

Mountain West players of the week…

Boise State’s rolling, and the weekly awards are showing it.

Senior G/F Abu Kigab was named the Player of the Week on Monday, his first. The Oregon transfer averaged 22 points and 4.5 rebounds, while shooting 65% from the field in a pair of wins last week.

His Broncos teammate, F Tyson Degenhart, won the Freshman of the Week honor for the ninth time after averaging eight points and five rebounds last week.

Triple-double trouble…

In a losing effort in that SDSU/Wyoming game on Monday, Hunter Maldonado had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for a rare triple double.

Well, maybe not as rare as it used to be.

There have now been eight triple-doubles in the history of the Mountain West Conference.

There were five from from the 1999-2000 season through the end of the 2020-21 season.

And now there have been three since Jan. 5:

• Monday: Wyoming’s Maldonado vs. SDSU (13p, 11r, 11a)
• Feb. 20: SJSU’s Omari Moore vs UNM (18p, 10r, 10a)
• Jan. 15: AFA’s Ethan Taylor vs Nevada (14p, 10r, 10a)

Poll position…

There were no Mountain West teams ranked in Monday’s latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, but three in the “others receiving votes” section.

• Boise State (56 points, on 29/61 ballots, one spot out of poll, high ranking 21)
• Colorado State (19 points, on 7/61 ballots, three spots out of poll, high ranking 22)
• San Diego State (5 points, on 3/61 ballots, eight spots out of poll, high ranking 24)

Around the Mountain…

There were two games on Monday around the Mountain (West) and nine left in the regular season this week. Here’s a look…

• San Diego State 73, Wyoming 66
• Fresno State 71, New Mexico 68

• Nevada at Boise State, 7 p.m. MT (FS2)
• San Jose State at Air Force, 7 p.m. MT (TheMW)

• Wyoming at UNLV, 7:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. MT (FS1)

• Fresno State at San Diego State, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT (CBSSN)

• Utah State at San Jose State, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT (FS1)

• Fresno State at Wyoming, 2 p.m. MT (TheMW)
• Boise State at Colorado State, 6:30 p.m. MT (CBSSN)
• San Diego State at Nevada, 7:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. MT (CBSSN)
• UNLV at New Mexico, 9 p.m. MT (FS1)

Mountain West standings…

Through Monday’s games, here’s how the league standings look:

14-2 Boise State
13-4 Colorado State
12-4 Wyoming
11-4 San Diego State
9-7 UNLV
8-7 Fresno State
7-10 Utah State
6-10 Nevada
4-12 New Mexico
3-13 Air Force
1-15 San Jose State

Looking ahead…

There are nine games left in the Mountain West’s regular season and still eight seeds left to determine for the conference tournament.

What we know for sure so far:

9. New Mexico
10. Air Force
11. San Jose State

Stats and stats…

Here is the postgame stat sheet from Monday night in Fresno: Fresno State 71, New Mexico 68

And for those who prefer the digital version of the stats: Fresno State 71, New Mexico 68

Grammer’s Guesses…

The Guesses went 1-1 on Monday and so did my daughter’s coin flip picks, meaning we’re down to nine games left in the season and we’re still tied. We both have horrible records of 37-49-2, but we have them together!

Until next time…

Until next time, Save Mart Center in Fresno, California…

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: Mid-range Mash nearly pulls it off on road

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