Emptying the Notebook: House showing growth - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: House showing growth

Jaelen House vs NDSU
Lobos senior guard Jaelen House (10) dribbles downcourt as North Dakota State junior Boden Skunberg (14) closes in during the first half of Saturday’s game in the Pit. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)
Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets, videos, analysis and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Saturday’s 76-55 Lobos win over North Dakota State in the Pit.

House showing his growth…

There were times last season when Jaelen House would get frustrated with a missed shot or a bad play or two and the Lobos (and fans) knew they were in for some wild times ahead.

He would, at times, let a bad play become a bad series of plays as he pressed to make up for a mistake. Sometimes it was an unnecessary foul after a turnover or a bad poor shot choice after missing an open shot the possession before.

Whatever the case, “bad Jaelen” moments sometimes really took a bite out of the Lobos chances to win even more so than “good Jaelen” would carry the team to victory at times.

This season, however, House has been, quite frankly, an elite point guard. Even critics of his critics boisterous, celebratory ways have to admit the Lobos are so much better when he’s flying around the court doing his thing.

But the growth in Jaelen House might not even be best on display in one of his high-scoring games. It might have been best shown on Saturday, when he, for the second consecutive game, had a rather awful shooting night.

Some “bad Jaelen” moments did not turn into him pressing too much to try and take over the game to make up for mistakes or missed shots. Instead, he looked poised and in control and simply found other ways to be a factor in a win.

House hit his first shot of Saturday’s game with 13:45 left in the first half. He then missed eight consecutive shot attempts, sitting at 1-for-9 from the field at one point. And while he hit 5 of his final 7 shots to finish at 6-of-16 (37.5% shooting didn’t look entirely bad at game’s end), it was that time in the middle of the game that could have had him revert into last season’s bad habits. And considering he had just 4 points scored in Friday’s win, he was clearly frustrated.

But instead of hijacking the game trying to shoot out of the slump, House put together the following impressive, complete stat line:

• 14 points
• 6-15 2FG
• 0-1 3FG
• 2-2 FT
• 5 rebounds
• 6 assists
• 1 turnover
• 3 blocked shots
• 2 steals

“I was happy that he was able to pull out of the funk that he was in,” said UNM head coach Richard Pitino. “He’s too old and too good of a player to get down on himself mentally, you know? He’s a terrific guard. He’s one of the best guards that I’ve ever coached. He needs to move on to the next play. …

“He kind of ebbed and flowed a little bit, but I thought he pulled himself out of it towards the end for sure.”

House’s effort on Saturday, and pretty much every game he’s played for the Lobos, has never been in question, as you can see on hustle plays like this one:

Said teammate Jamal Mashburn Jr. of House: “I’ve seen tremendous growth (from House). I mean, he’s a tremendous player, offensively and defensively. He’s always going to keep going. Definitely, from last year, a year ago if that situation would have happened, it might have looked different. (But it didn’t), which is good because we see growth from him. You know, he’s always gonna keep going no matter if shots are going in or shots are not, he’s always gonna give it his all defensively and just play hard as hell.”

Some notable numbers for House through five games:

• Steals: 14 (2.8/game is 1st in MWC)
• Steal rate: 5.4% (25th in the country)
• Assist-to-turnover ratio: 28-9 (3.1, 4th in MWC)
• Fouls drawn/40 minutes: 7.3 (25th in country)

It’s early, of course, but consider this: House played in 30 of UNM’s 32 games last season and finished with 68 steals, good for the 7th most in a season all-time in program history.

If he plays 30 games this season, he is currently on pace for 84 steals, which would tie Hunter Greene’s all-time single-season record of 84 steals set in the 1986-87 season.

The gamer…

Here’s a link to the gamer I filed from the Pit’s media room on Saturday night…

A title is on the line!

The Lobos are 2-0 over the first two games of the Lobo Classic.

They play Northern Colorado on Sunday, a team that is also 2-0 over the first two days of the Lobo Classic.

The winner Sunday gets crowned champion on the three-day, four-team event.

Here’s a recap of the scores:

• New Mexico 79, Jacksonville State 61
• Northern Colorado 80, North Dakota State 70

• New Mexico 76, North Dakota State 55
• Northern Colorado 84, Jacksonville State 80 (OT)

• North Dakota State vs. Jacksonville State, 3 p.m.
• Northern Colorado vs. New Mexico, 5:30 p.m.

Mash back on top…

After Friday’s game in which Morris Udeze scored 22 points, the UNM Lobo scoring leader list looked like this:

UNM scoring leaders (through 4 games)
18.0 – Morris Udeze
17.0 – Jamal Mashburn Jr.
16.5 – Jaelen House

The big news about that list was it marked the first time in the Richard Pitino era that a person not named House or Mashburn led the team in scoring.

Well, it didn’t last long.

Udeze still had 12 points on Saturday, but Mashburn went for 19 points to regain the lead.

UNM scoring leaders (through 5 games)
17.4 – Jamal Mashburn Jr.
16.8 – Morris Udeze
16.0 – Jaelen House

UNM is the only Mountain West team to have three players in the top six of the league scoring list right now (Mashburn 3, Udeze 5 and House 6). In fact, the next closest team (Utah State) has its third leading scorer check in at No. 22.

As for Mashburn, he, like House, showed some effort at both ends of the floor that got the crowd going at times, especially with plays like this in which he grabbed the rebound and took the ball coast-to-coast beating back NDSU defenders for a tough layup:

A number to know: 5-0 …

Saturday’s win pushed the Lobos’ record to 5-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season. That was Steve Alford’s final season at UNM when the Lobos started 12-0 before their first loss.

This is the 119th season of Lobo basketball being played (the first game was played Feb. 2, 1900, but there were a few years without a team).

Here are the 25 times the Lobos have started a season at least 5-0 with their record before losing their first game that season reflected:

• 2022-23: 5-0 (TBD)
• 2012-13: 12-0
• 2009-10: 12-0
• 2007-08: 7-0
• 2006-07: 5-0
• 1998-99: 8-0
• 1997-98: 5-0
• 1996-97: 5-0
• 1995-96: 10-0
• 1993-94: 5-0
• 1990-91: 5-0
• 1985-86: 5-0
• 1973-74: 12-0
• 1972-73: 9-0
• 1970-71: 7-0
• 1968-69: 5-0
• 1967-68: 17-0
• 1966-67: 5-0
• 1963-64: 7-0
• 1933-34: 5-0
• 1932-33: 9-0
• 1924-45: 10-0
• 1915-16: 8-0
• 1914-15: 5-0
• 1912-13: 6-0*
*The 6-0 Lobos of the 1912-13 season is the only undefeated team in program history.

Should the Lobos win Sunday and improve to 6-0, 10 of the the teams on that list that were 5-0 would be dropped and the list would be down to 15.

And then there were 24…

The Lobos, though Saturday’s games, were one of just 24 (out of 363) Division I teams still sitting pretty without a loss on the season.

… it’s a good thing closed door scrimmages don’t count.

Speaking of KenPom…

With Saturday’s 21-point win, the Lobos moved up in the KenPom.com rankings to 96 out of 363 Division I teams.

It is the first time since the middle of the 2019-20 season the program was in the KenPom top 100.

And considering were it was at the end of the 2020-21 COVID season to where it is 37 games into the Richard Pitino era (32 games last season, five this season), the steady climb of roughly 200 spots in 37 games is pretty remarkable.

• End 2020-21 season: KenPom 294
• End 2021-22 season: KenPom 161
• Saturday after win: KenPom 96

A number to know: 55

The Lobos held North Dakota State to 55 points on Friday. That’s the lowest opponent point total of the season and second lowest for a Division I opponent in the Pitino era.

In fact, it’s worth noting that three of the six lowest point totals in the 35 games coached by Pitino at UNM have come in the past three games played by the Lobos — wins over North Dakota State (Saturday), Jacksonville State (Friday) and SMU (Nov. 15).

Lowest opponent totals under Pitino

1. 46 points – NAIA Northern New Mexico College (Feb. 11, 2022)
2. 54 points – Norfolk State (Dec. 21, 2021)
3. 55 points – North Dakota State (Saturday)
t4. 61 points – Jacksonville State (Friday)
t4. 61 points – Grambling State (Nov. 15, 2021)
t6. 63 points – SMU (Nov. 15, 2022)
t6. 63 points – D-II Western New Mexico (Nov. 22, 2021)

The power of the Grammer Jinx…

In this ETN space 24 hours ago, I wrote about Donovan Dent, the Lobos freshman point guard who has been playing terrifically this season.

More specifically, I mentioned he had, then, a Mountain West best 9.0 assist-to-turnover ratio (18 assists and just two turnovers) through four games.

Well, then Saturday came along. Dent had no assists and four turnovers.

The MWC’s top five in assist-to-turnover ratio through Saturday’s games now looks like this:

1. Rylan Jones, Utah St. — 3.9 (27 assists-7 turnovers)
2. Steven Ashworth, Utah St. — 3.5 (28 assists-8 turnovers)
3. Alvaro Cardenas, SJSU — 3.4 (27 assists-8 turnovers)
4. Jaelen House, UNM — 3.1 (28 assists-9 turnovers)
5. Donovan Dent, UNM — 3.0 (18 assists-2 turnovers)

Look, he’s still a great young player, but clearly he’s no match for the Grammer Jinx.

Video: Pitino, Allick, Mashburn…

Here is the video I posted of Richard Pitino, Josiah Allick and Jamal Mashburn Jr. talking to media after Saturday’s win over North Dakota State…

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas…

The New Mexico State Aggies, the team the Lobos were supposed to play last weekend and again next weekend in Las Cruces, didn’t find the same sort of good fortune on Saturday as it had on Friday.

The Aggies got roughed up a little bit by the UC-Irvine Anteaters, 85-68, in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Meanwhile in the Lone Star State…

The UNM women’s basketball team was more happy with the result than how it happened on Saturday.

The Lobos survived an upset bid by Texas A&M Commerce on Saturday afternoon, holding on to win 78-71.

Here is colleague Ken Sickenger’s write up of Saturday’s UNM women’s basketball win:


The announced crowd for Saturday’s Lobo Classic game between North Dakota State and the UNM Lobos in the Pit: 8,715


Here are the Lobos’ plus/minus numbers from Saturday’s win with minutes played in parenthesis:

+25 Josiah Allick (32:59)
+23 Jaelen House (31:03)
+20 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (32:54)
+19 Morris Udeze (31:39)
+9 Javonte Johnson (20:20)
+7 Donovan Dent (20:38)
+6 K.J. Jenkins (13:28)
+1 Sebastian Forsling (6:48)
-1 Braden Appelhans (1:12)
-1 Mac Manzanares (00:25)
-1 Safi Fino-A-Aldelf (00:25)
-2 Birima Seck (8:09)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 13 unique lineup combinations in Saturday’s game and played 12 players. North Dakota State had 24 lineup combinations and played 9 players.

The Lobos have used the same starting lineup in all five games they have played this season.

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

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +7 (28-21)
• Time on court: 14:20
• NOTE: The ball certainly was shared best when the starting five were on the court as nine of UNM’s 15 assists happened while the starting five was on the floor.

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./K.J. Jenkins/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +6 (12-6)
• Time on court: 4:21
NOTE: The one tweak to the starting five that worked best to Saturday’s game was when K.J. Jenkins was subbed in for Javonte Johnson. Obviously Johnson’s size and strength will be needed for big minutes, so this isn’t a sign of things to come necessarily, but on Saturday, with just the Jenkins for Johnson tweak, the unit scored 2.8 points per minute, better than the starting five’s 1.9 points per minute.

• Who: Donovan Dent/K.J. Jenkins/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Birima Seck/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: -2 (1-3)
• Time on court: 3:13
• NOTE: This grouping scored a grand total of one point — ONE! — despite being on the court together for 3:13. That’s not going to win many games if you stretched that out over a 40-minute game.

Around the Mountain…

There were five more games around the Mountain on Saturday in a busy weekend of holiday hoops.

• North Texas 69, San Jose State 54 (Nassau Championship event)
• New Mexico 79, Jacksonville State 61 (Lobo Classic)

• San Jose State 80, Oakland 67
• Boise State 87, Utah Valley 69
• Colorado State 88, Mississippi Valley State 45
• New Mexico 76, North Dakota State 55
• UNLV 126, (NAIA) Life Pacific College 54

• Montana at Air Force, 1 p.m. MT
• Northern Colorado at UNM, 5:30 p.m. MT (Lobo Classic)

Stats and stats…

Here are the postgame stats for those who like the traditional-looking stat sheet: UNM 76, NDSU 55

And here is the link to the digital stats: UNM 76, NDSU 55

One more to go in the Lobo Classic….

See you Sunday in the Pit for the third-and-final day for the Lobo Classic.

UNM hosts Northern Colorado at about 5:30 p.m.

In Sunday’s other game, starting at 3 p.m., Jacksonville (Ala.) State University with play against North Dakota State.

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