Here are a few extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets, and other odds & ends I managed to empty out of the old notebook after Monday night’s 89-81 UNM Lobos win in the Pit:
There were 50 — FIFTY! — fouls called in Monday night’s Lobos game and 49 free throw attempts, making for a long, drawn out game.
For comparison sake, the only game with more combined fouls called all last season was the 51-foul game at New Mexico State on Nov. 30 when the Aggies fouled like crazy late in the game to try and come back (it did not work).
As for Monday night, it was easily the most fouls called in any of the nine games played involving Mountain West teams.
• 50 fouls – Southern Utah at New Mexico
• 44 – Utah Tech at Nevada
• 41 – Colorado Christian at Wyoming
• 39 – Southern at UNLV
• 38 – Gardner-Webb at Colorado State
• 37 – Fresno Pacific at Fresno State
• 36 – SDSU vs. CS-Fullerton
• 34 – Utah Valley at Utah State
• 31 – Air Force at Bowling Green
As fans in attendance can attest, the flow to the game was less than desirable at times and it created lineup problems early for the Lobos.
“I thought we settled in offensively much better in the second half, but it was hard to coach in the first half with all that foul trouble,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino admitted.
So why do I, just one game into the season, already highlight such a high volume of fouls called? It’s twofold.
First, the good news for the Lobos.
If there are a lot of fouls called against an opponent, and on Monday 30 of the fouls were against Southern Utah, that usually means the Lobos are going to score a lot of points. Jaelen House drew 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes last season, one of the best rates in the Mountain West Conference, and connected on 88.9% of this free throws. Jamal Mashburn, Jr., meanwhile, drew 4.5 fouls per 40 minutes and was a solid 78.7% free throw shooter.
Those two players were aggressive in attacking the rim on Monday and combined for 16 made free throws, which between the two of them was more than the 13 free throws SUU’s entire team even attempted.
UNM shot just 66.7% from the free throw line on Monday (24-of-36) and even House missed three of his first four.
“I don’t take credit for House shooting 88% last year and I don’t take blame for him missing four free throws (Monday night),” Pitino said.
“Honestly, I said to him, ‘What the hell’s wrong with your free throw shooting?’ And he said ‘My finger hurts.’ I’m like, Well, you scored 23 points seemed like you were fine. So I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. I mean, we made a lot of them last year.”
The team’s 75% clip last season ranked 64th nationally among 358 Division I teams.
On the other side of the fouling coin was the fact that 20 of them were called on the Lobos. That may actually seem low considering how quickly Morris Udeze, Birima Seck and Josiah Allick all picked up their first two fouls in the first half.
Each of those players have fouled at a high rate in the past, which I first pointed out in an article I wrote on Oct. 17: Controlled aggression: New Lobos must set physical tone without fouling
In that article, I noted that Udeze committed 6 fouls in a closed door scrimmage against Northern Arizona (foul outs, obviously, were not enforce in that scrimmage setting) a month ago. And he has a bad history of high fouls rates at Wichita State before transferring to UNM. Same for Allick when he was at UMKC before transferring to UNM.
Both players admitted they play so physical on defense — something they were recruited to UNM to do for a Lobos team that was dreadfully non-physical last season — that they can get into foul trouble.
Here are the foul rates for Udeze, Allick and Seck last season:
• Udeze: 5.38 fouls per 40 minutes
• Allick: 4.9 fouls per 40 minutes
• Seck: 8.4 fouls per 40 minutes
Among players who played at least 40% of their team’s minutes, Udeze’s foul rate was third worst out in the American Athletic Conference a season ago. Allick’s 4.9 foul rate was actually much improved over his prior two season figures of 5.1 as a sophomore and 7.9 as a freshman.
As for Seck, he played so little last season his rate didn’t qualify to be among the league rankings in that statistic, but it was clear Monday when he committed three fouls and played just 6:22, he still has some real issues defending without fouling.
While the guard play carried the Lobos on Monday, Udeze scoring 14 points ini 23 minutes of play on 7-of-11 shooting showed his potential as an offensive weapon for the team.
That is if he can stay on the court.
“Morris is talented,” Lobo guard K.J. Jenkins said. “He’s just — he’s real physical and aggressive and that can hurt him at times when he gets in foul trouble early. We need him on the court. You can see it. When he’s out there, he’s a force.”
Here’s a link to the game story filed from the Pit after Monday’s game…
20-20 looks pretty good…
The sample size is one. But it doesn’t make it any less true.
The Mountain West Conference website updated its scoring stats on Monday night and, after just one night of games with 9 of 11 teams having played, here’s a list of all the players in the league “averaging” more than 20 points per game this season:
1. Jamal Mashburn Jr. – 24.0
2. Jaelen House – 23.0
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) November 8, 2022
It is worth noting that No. 3 on the MWC’s scoring leaders list for now is Utah State’s Sean Bairstow, the younger brother of former Lobo great Cameron Bairstow. Sean scored 19 points in the Aggies’ win over Utah Valley.
Meanwhile, Monday marked the fifth time House and Mashburn have each scored 20 or more points in the same game. Here’s the list:
• Monday vs. Southern Utah: Mashburn 24, House 23 (win)
• March 5 vs. UNLV: House 27, Mashburn 21 (win)
• Feb. 5 at Air Force: House 42, Mashburn 20 (win)
• Dec. 6, 2021 vs. NMSU: Mashburn 26, House 21 (loss)
• Nov. 13, 2021 at Colorado: House 22, Mashburn 20 (loss)
The burst that changed the game…
The Lobos trailed Monday night for a grand total of 0 seconds. But Southern Utah hung around and even tied it at one point at 48-48 with 15:36 left to play in the second half.
That’s when House and company led the team on a furious 2-minute, 10-0 scoring run that changed the game:
• 15:19: Mashburn 3-pointer, assist by House (51-48)
• 14:56: Mashburn defensive rebound
• 14:12: Jenkins jumper, assist by House (53-48)
• 13:51: Allen-Tovar defensive rebound
• 13:39: Udeze dunk, assist by House (55-48)
• 13:27: Udeze steal
• 13:22: Allen-Tovar offensive rebound
• 13:16: House 3-pointer, assist by Dent (58-48)
RECAP: 2 minutes, 3 seconds… 10-0 run… House had 3 points and assisted on each of the other three baskets made in the flurry.
A number to know: 16
K.J. Jenkins had a +16 in Monday’s game, meaning the UNM Lobos outscored Southern Utah by 16 points in the 13:04 Jenkins was on the court. That’s impressive stuff for a reserve and in a game where the next closest player on either team (Birima Seck at +10) was six points away.
Jenkins was 3-for-5 from the field in the game with 9 points, shooting 1-for-3 from 3-point range and 2-for-3 from the free throw line. He also had three rebounds, three fouls drawn, a steal, an assist and one turnover.
you can see all the Lobos’ plus/minus figures later in this ETN column.
UNM had a pregame moment of silence for former Lobo and former Kansas Jayhawk Gethro Muscadin, who died last week after never recovering from injuries sustained in a December 2021 car crash.
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) November 8, 2022
They said it (rebounding edition)…
The Lobos were out-rebounded 40-38. Not a horrible number, but since that’s the stat that seemed to be the primary point of emphasis all offseason, they sure would have liked to have had the edge in that category on Monday.
“They were a team that we knew wanted to get up a lot of threes and we knew that there were going to be long rebounds. But we weren’t able to get those rebounds and they were able to get some second chance points and second chance opportunities. We’ve got clean those up, hitting bodies and just being more physical.” — Guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. after the game
“Rebounds. Second chance points. … We’ve got to get better at it. It was obvious.” — Guard K.J. Jenkins when asked what allowed Soutern Utah to hang around in the game so long.
They really could have used this guy…
While the Lobos spent the offseason grabbing two bulky transfer forwards to help shore up the rebounding and frontcourt depth, the really could have used returning 7-foot sophomore center Sebastian Forsling on Monday.
About 30 minutes before game time here in the Pit. Only roster update: No Sebastian Forsling tonight. The 7-foot center, who has returned to practices is my understanding, is not suited up tonight after the ankle sprain a couple weeks ago. pic.twitter.com/igT2ar63xk
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) November 8, 2022
The big guy from Sweden had an ankle injury two weeks ago, which followed a wrist injury over the summer and a concussion in early October.
Forsling returned to practice this week, only to roll his ankle again on Sunday.
Pitino said he hopes Forsling will be back and ready to play Friday against South Alabama, who has 7-foot, 260 pound senior center Kevin Samuel, who is a graduate transfer from Florida Gulf Coast and started 95 games over three seasons at TCU prior to that.
He’s a beast, to say the least.
On the other hand…
While it was disheartening for many fans to see the Lobos get outrebounded on Monday night after hearing all offseason about how the team’s goal was to shore up that part of the game, the numbers on the offensive glass weren’t all bad.
UNM grabbed 12 offensive boards, or 30.8% of its available offensive rebounds in the game.
Southern Utah ranked 12th in the nation last season in allowed offensive rebounding rate, allowing teams to grab just 22.5% of their available offensive boards.
In fact, in 35 games last season for SUU, only three opponents had better than a 30% offensive rebounding rate in a game, as the Lobos did on Monday. Those games:
• Michigan (37.9 off. reb %)
• Saint Mary’s (31.6 off. reb %)
• Montana State (34.6 off. reb %)
As for the Lobos, they had an offensive rebound rate of better than 30% in seven of 32 games last season, so starting off this season 1-for-1 probably is worth at least a little bit of recognition.
Meanwhile, in Cedar City…
The UNM Lobo women’s basketball team took to the road Monday, coincidently against Southern Utah’s women’s team in Cedar City, Utah.
They didn’t have the same good fortune as the men’s team.
Here is colleague Ken Sickenger’s write up after the Lobos’ 76-68 loss at Southern Utah:
The announced attendance at Monday night’s game in the Pit: 8,181
Video: Postgame with Pitino…
Here’s the video of the postgame media sessions with Lobo coach Richard Pitino and players Jamal Mashburn Jr. and K.J. Jenkins, as posted to the Albuquerque Journal’s YouTube page:
Here are the plus/minus numbers for the Lobos for their season opening win with minutes played in parenthesis:
+16 K.J. Jenkins (13:04)
+10 Birima Seck (6:22)
+8 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (35:35)
+6 Donovan Dent (11:22)
+5 Jay Allen-Tovar (23:10)
+4 Jaelen House (31:44)
+4 Morris Udeze (23:12)
-3 Javonte Johnson (31:37)
-3 Braden Appelhans (2:59)
-7 Josiah Allick (20:55)
NOTE: Reading too much into one game’s plus/minus stats can be misleading. But I’ll bet you won’t see Josiah Allick at the bottom of this chart much this season.
Line ’em up…
The Lobos had 20 unique lineup combinations in Monday’s game and played 10 players. Southern Utah had 22 lineup combinations and played 11 players.
Here’s a look at a few notable UNM lineups, starting with the starters:
— Lobo Basketball (@UNMLoboMBB) November 8, 2022
• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: -2 (16-18)
• Time on court: 10:31
• NOTE: Unlike last week’s exhibition game against CSU-Pueblo when the starting five could do no wrong, on Monday, the starters were actually outscored by Southern Utah, playing together for just over a quarter of the game (10 minutes, 31 seconds). Five of UNM’s 12 turnovers came when the starting five was on the court. Foul trouble was a big part of the struggle for the starters to find any rhythm.
• Who: Jaelen House/Donovan Dent/K.J. Jenkins/Jay Allen-Tovar/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +4 (7-3)
• Time on court: 1:58
• NOTE: Though just under two minutes together, this unique combination scored in a hurry (3.56 points per minute) and shared the ball with assists on all three field goals made.
• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Braden Appelhans/Javonte Johnson/Jay Allen-Tovar
• Point differential: -3 (4-7)
• Time on court: 1:52
• NOTE: Hey, remember last season when Javonte Johnson had to play out of position at the 4 and Jay Allen-Tovar had to play out of position at the 5 and absolutely hated it? Welp, one game into the 2022-23 season and the foul trouble to Josiah Allick, Morris Udeze and Birima Seck led to a lineup with that happening again. And the results weren’t great.
Meanwhile, in Moby…
No David Roddy. Last season’s Mountain West Player of the Year is now in the NBA.
No Isaiah Stevens. The preseason All-Mountain West selection broke his foot and is out for an extended period of time.
No problem for the Colorado State Rams on Monday night.
OK, that’s not true. The Rams had plenty of problems with visiting Gardner-Webb in Moby Arena, but the end result wasn’t one of them, thanks to Isaiah Rivera’s big shot in the closing seconds.
— Colorado State Men’s Basketball (@CSUMBasketball) November 8, 2022
Around the Mountain…
There were nine games around the Mountain West on Monday night, with just three more coming the next few days before another busy slate on Friday night:
• No. 19 San Diego State 80, Cal State Fullerton 57
• Bowling Green 62, Air Force 58
• Wyoming 102, (DII) Colorado Christian 69
• New Mexico 89, Southern Utah 81
• Colorado State 65, Gardner-Webb 63
• Nevada 84, Utah Tech 71
• Fresno State 69, (DII) Fresno Pacific 56
• Utah State 75, Utah Valley 58
• UNLV 66, Southern 56
• Georgia Southern at San Jose State, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT
• South Dakota State at Boise State, 7 p.m. MT
• Nicholls State at Wyoming, 8 p.m MT
• Fresno State at UC Santa Barbara, 2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT
• Delaware at Air Force, 3 p.m. MT
• Bradley at Utah State, 7 p.m. MT
• South Alabama at New Mexico, 7 p.m. MT
• SE Louisiana at Colorado State, 7:30 p.m. MT
• BYU at No. 19 San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. MT
And what about down south?
The New Mexico State Aggies opened the Greg Heiar coaching era with a huge victory, albeit one over a Division II foe in New Mexico Highlands.
On our way to Heiar Ground🚀
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) November 8, 2022
It’s hard not to be impressed with a 49-point win against anyone and there’s no faking a triple-double, as Deshawndre Washington had in his Aggies debut in just 26 minutes on the floor.
Next up for the Aggies is Saturday’s rivalry game against UTEP in El Paso.
The Lobos entered Monday’s game rated 138 on KenPom.com (out of what this year is now 363 Division I programs).
They left Monday’s game still rated 138.
Southern Utah was rated 167 entering the game, just six spots worse than the 161 rating the Lobos ended last season with (161).
Speaking of KenPom…
My guest on Episode 53 of the Talking Grammer podcast was college basketball analytics guru Ken Pomeroy. I posted the podcast on Monday, as I do each week, but it may have got lost a little in the attention paid to the Lobos preseason opener.
Nevertheless, here’s how to listen:
Right here on this audio player…
Or through any of these links:
Stats and stats…
Here is a picture of the postgame stat sheet I tweeted after Monday’s game: UNM 89, SUU 81
Final stat sheet: New Mexico 89, Southern Utah 81 pic.twitter.com/hihQ1mrIlo
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) November 8, 2022
And here’s the digital version of the postgame stats: UNM 89, SUU 81
The Lobos (1-0) host South Alabama (0-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in the Pit.
USA plays its first game on Wednesday.