Emptying the Notebook: House, Mashburn took Pitino's praise of CSU guard personally - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: House, Mashburn took Pitino’s praise of CSU guard personally

Lobo point guard Jaelen House (10) shoots and scores as CSU’s Patrick Cartier (12) closes in during the second half on Wednesday in the Pit. (Chancey Bush/ Albuquerque Journal)
Here are some extra stats, quotes, news and notes from Wednesday’s 88-69 Lobos win over CSU to open Mountain West play in the Pit:

The cave man took it personal…

Jaelen House tempted fate over the Christmas break.

He cut his hair.

Who in the wide world of sports would do something like cut their hair in the middle of a long winning streak? I mean, the Lobos were 12-0 with his shaggy locks, why cut it now?

“My dad said I looked like a cave man,” House said about the new look. “So, I wanted to cut my hair. That’s all it was.”

But what about that winning streak?

“I’m superstitious, but I’m not that superstitious,” House said.

While his dad, former NBA player Eddie House, may have been in his ear recently about his hair, it was head coach Richard Pitino who recently was getting under his skin about something else.

Pitino acknowledged Tuesday that he had been hyping up Colorado State point guard Isaiah Stevens so much recently that he could tell both House and his fellow UNM backcourt mate Jamal Mashburn, Jr., were getting sick of hearing it.

Stevens is, after all, a former Mountain West Freshman of the Year, a preseason All-Mountain West pick and one of the best point guards the league has had in years.

Couple those realities with the needling of their coach, and House and Mashburn had plenty of motivation for Wednesday night, both with what was mostly a House/Stevens head-to-head matchup but also their joint backcourt-vs.-backcourt domination by the Lobos.

• House: 26 points, 5-6 3-pointers, 5 assists, 5 drawn fouls, 3 steals
• Mashburn: 19 points, 4-8 3-pointers, 3 assists
• Stevens: 10 points, 4-15 shooting, 1-6 3-pointers, 7 assists, 5 turnovers

“This was important game for me,” House said “You know a lot of people have been saying Stevens is better than me and I just wanted to go out there and show them he’s not better than me. … I’m not taking nothing away from him. But, you know, this was personal.”

Mashburn had a similar response when asked about Stevens being a source of motivation for Wednesday’s game.

“I took it personal, too,” Mashburn said. “I mean, players like that, you always want to play against. He’s a tremendous player and I’m glad he’s back healthy (Stevens broke a foot in October and missed six games) and getting back healthy and stuff like that. Because he’s a great player for this conference. But, yeah. I definitely took it personal because you want to see where you are with the best guys. And I think I’m one of the best and we’re (he and House) one of the best.”

So, was Pitino’s praise of the Rams star point guard genuine? Or was he piling on a bit knowing how his star guards would respond?

Maybe a little of both.

“Mash and House get so annoyed when I pump up Stevens,” Pitino said. “You know, maybe I’m not as dumb as I look. Maybe I’m doing that to fire them up.”

Stevens certainly had his worst game versus UNM on Wednesday night.

While he averaged in four previous games against the Lobos — all wins — 14.0 points and 55.0% shooting from the floor, Wednesday was just 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting (26.7%).

House, who I quoted in an article last week about also taking it personal this season anytime the player he’s guarding scores on him, was as effective on defense Wednesday as he was flashy on offense.

“He played terrific defensively,” Pitino said. “… House took pride in it. You know, Stevens is terrific. But House is terrific as well.”

The gamer…

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

Lucky 13…

The last three Lobos teams to reach 12-0 at the start of a season weren’t able to continue their unbeaten ways in that unlucky 13th game.

These aren’t those same Lobos.

Wednesday, the Lobos won Game 13, becoming just the second team in the program’s 119 season history to start a season 13-0 (the 1967-68 Lobos went on to win their first 17 games).

Here are the top five starts to a season in Lobo basketball history:

17-0: 1967-68
13-0: 2022-23*

12-0: 2012-13
12-0: 2009-10
12-0: 1973-74

“It was just a terrific game,” UNM Lobos coach Richard Pitino said. “This is the first time since 1967 they’ve started 13-0, and our guys should be applauded for that because I don’t have to ask them to play hard. I don’t have to ask them to practice hard. This is Year 11 of being a head coach. That is not always the case.”

One more thing about that No. 13…

Of course 13-0 was a big deal, but seemingly lost in the excitement around the Pit for the Lobos victory was this rather significant nugget: The Lobos have already matched last season’s win total of 13, and done so by the end of the calendar year.

• 2022-23: 13-0 (at least 19 games remaining)
• 2021-22: 13-19

And just for good measure…

The Lobos are still among the final three Division I teams (out of 363) without a loss as Connecticut also played Wednesday, and also won, beating Villanova 74-66 to improve to 14-0.

So, here’s the current state of the three remaining unbeatens and their next opponent:

• No. 1 Purdue (Thursday vs. Florida A&M)
• No. 2 UConn (Saturday at No. 22 Xavier
• No. 22 New Mexico (Saturday at Wyoming)
(NOTE: Xavier and UNM are tied at No. 22 in this week’s AP Top 25)


The announced attendance for Wednesday’s Colorado State at No. 22 New Mexico game in the Pit: 15,215

That’s the largest Pit game this season and since December 2015. It’s also the largest announced attendance for any game played in this season by a Mountain West team.

That the Lobos got a good crowd wasn’t a shocker, but the game between Christmas and New Years hasn’t been kind at the gate to the Lobos for many years.

Here’s a look at the previous three announced attendances in the Pit for home games in the week between Christmas and New Years:

• 10,693 (Dec. 29, 2019, vs. UC Davis)
• 10,514 (Dec. 27, 2017, vs. Air Force)
• 11,844 (Dec. 28, 2016, vs. Fresno State)

Oh, those 3s…

The Lobos hit a season-high 15 3-pointers in Wednesday’s win, including their first three made baskets of the game and four of their first five made shots in a 14-0 run that led to a CSU timeout.

On the one hand, based on the previous 12 games, you could say the shooting barrage came out of nowhere for a Lobos team that was one of the bottom four teams in the country in terms of percentage of points cmoing from 3-pointers.

On the other hand, the way CSU defends, and knowing the Lobos offense has been at its best when starting inside with Morris Udeze scoring at the rim, it wasn’t exactly a secret what the Rams would try to do.

Here’s something I wrote in the Wednesday morning Journal matchup box:

“There may be a bit of a chess match at the 3-point line for the Lobos this game. While UNM has avoided being 3-point reliant, ranking 359th (out of 363 Division I teams) in points scored by 3s (just 19.1% with the national averaged being 31.0%), the Rams defense leaves the 3-point line open. CSU opponents score 3.1% of their points on 3s … Essentially, UNM doesn’t take 3s and CSU’s defense has been daring teams to take them.”

Well, CSU sure dared the Lobos to take more 3s than they were accustomed to and the Lobos sure looked comfortable taking them.

“We knew going into the game that they were going to pack the paint in and we were going to have a lot of catch-and-shoot opportunities — in transition and in the halfcourt,” said Lobo guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. “They played a defensive scheme trapping those bigs, so we were able to just get open looks and knock them down. I mean, we were as confident an offensive team (as there is) in the country. So we’re just gonna keep knocking them down.”

Some bullet point highlights of UNM’s 3-point barrage on Wednesday:

• 15 made 3s (season high)
• 60% 3FG on 15-of-25 (season high)
• 60% 3FG was the highest 3FG% of any Rams opponent this season
• First three made baskets of the game for UNM were 3s
• Tied season high in 3s with 8:25 left in the first half
• Went 11-of-17 in first half
• Three Lobos hit three or more 3-pointers

Up next…

The Lobos upcoming games:
• Saturday at Wyoming, 2 p.m. MT, FS1
• Tuesday at Fresno State, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT, CBS Sports Network
• Saturday, Jan. 7, vs. UNLV, 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

How about another?

UNM announced Wednesday morning it has added a home game Jan. 9 against Oral Roberts, a 10-3 team expected to win the Summit League that was ranked as of Wednesday morning No. 55 in the NCAA’s all-important NET rankings.

After losing the rivalry series with NMSU in November, the Lobos have replaced the home game lost with the Aggies (92 in the NET) with Oral Roberts (55) and replaced the road game at NMSU with the Dec. 12 neutral court game in Las Vegas, Nevada, with San Francisco (88 in NET).

You can read more about the new game and what went into it here:

As for that perfect 12-0 nonconference record, this now means the Lobos are NOT (at least as of today) the fourth Lobos team in program history to complete a nonconference schedule with an undefeated record.

Not counting the reduced-schedule, COVID-restricted season of 2020-21, three UNM teams have completed a perfect nonconference schedule:

• 1995-96: 10-0 nonconference record
• 1972-73: 12-0 nonconference record
• 1933-34: 10-0 nonconference record

But, 12-0 for now in nonconference games for this season, coupled with two wins to cap last season’s nonconference slate over Northern New Mexico and Norfolk State, the Lobos have the third-longest active win streak in nonconference play:

How about a little Javonte Johnson praise?

His numbers haven’t been great this season and his minutes have slightly decreased as a result.

But maybe the funk Lobo junior wing Javonte Johnson was in offensively much of nonconference play is starting to fade away.

First, let’s look at his stat line from Wednesday vs. CSU:

• 8 points
• 1-1 2FG shooting
• 2-4 3FG shooting
• 2 rebounds
• 4 assists (career high)

Aside from the career-high four assists, what’s particularly noteworthy for Johnson was that he’s now had back-to-back games of 8 points and hitting two 3-pointers.

While Johnson was statistically the best on the Lobos last season in 3-point percentage (45.5%), he entered Wednesday having hit just 21.4% of his 3-pointers this season and was clearly a player without the same sort of confidence he had putting up those shots a year ago.

Four of his 8 made 3s this season have come in the past two games (Wednesday and the Dec. 20 win over Prairie View A&M, both of which he was 2-of-4 from beyond the arc).

A familiar face…

There was a familiar face down on the court at halftime of Wednesday’s game.

Former New Mexico State Aggie star and former Lobo assistant coach Brandon Mason was running the show with some of the kids from the ABC Basketball program he runs.

A number to know: 1,397

It had been 1,397 days since the Lobos last beat Colorado State on March 2, 2019.

While the Rams win streak was just four for the two teams that almost always play twice a season, they played just once in 2020, once in 2021 and twice last season.

VIDEO: Pressers with Pitino, House, Mashburn…

Here is the video I put together of the three postgame pressers from UNM Lobos coach Richard Pitino and Lobo guards Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr.

Did you hear?

Episode 57 of the Talking Grammer podcast, a conversation with former Air Force head coach and current UNM Assistant to the Head Coach Dave Pilipovich, is live on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and here on the Journal’s Website.

The episode can be heard on the following:

• SoundCloud (Ep. 57)
• iTunes (Ep. 57)
• Spotify (Ep. 57)

Or, for the full 57-episode archive of the Talking Grammer podcast, CLICK HERE or see the links below:

Another number to know: 34

It’s a stat that gets updated by Lobo hoops Sports Information Director Steve Kirkland with such regularity it sort of gets forgotten about (by me anyway) far too often.

With his 19 points on Wednesday, Lobo guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored in double figures for the 34th consecutive games and now in 44 of the 45 games he’s played in a UNM Lobo uniform overall.

The 34-consecutive games scoring in double figures streak is the longest current streak in the Mountain West.


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

+26 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (34:12)
+23 Javonte Johnson (22:29)
+14 Jaelen House (33:15)
+10 Morris Udeze (30:27)
+9 Sebastian Forsling (9:33)
+5 K.J. Jenkins (22:51)
+5 Donovan Dent (15:25)
+3 Birima Seck (4:41)
+1 Safi Fino-A-Laself (1:05)
0 Josiah Allick (24:22)
-1 Braden Appelhans (1:40)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 18 unique lineup combinations in Wednesday’s game and played 11 players. CSU had 12 lineup combinations and played 9 players.

The Lobos have used the same starting lineup in all 13 games they have played this season.

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

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +7 (26-19)
• Time on court: 11:32
• NOTE: The ball was moving (7 assists with this unit on the floor) and the offense was efficient (1.4 points per possession).

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./K.J. Jenkins/Javonte Johnson/Sebastian Forsling
• Point differential: +10 (14-4)
• Time on court: 3:05
NOTE: This unit rattled off head-shaking offensive numbers, scoring 4.5 points per minute on the court, 2.8 points per possession and had no turnovers.

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./K.J. Jenkins/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: -8 (11-19)
• Time on court: 7:36
NOTE: We’ve seen this note on the worst lineup of the game go the other way when this one change from the starting five was made. Wednesday, in a small :36 sample size, when K.J. Jenkins subbed in for Javonte Johnson and the other four starters for UNM remained on the floor, things didn’t work out well (again, we’ve noted in this space in the past that the Jenkins for Johnson swap had more than once led to a game’s best lineup of the night).


Here are some picutures from Wednesday’s game captured by the Journal’s Chancey Bush…

Meanwhile, in San Jose… 

I’ve used this spot before in ETN this season to highlight how good the San Jose State Spartans have been in nonconference play.

Apparently I should have been playing closer attention myself (I picked against them in my Grammer’s Guesses picks, see at bottom).

Tim Miles has the Spartans cooking, opening league play with a 75-72 overtime win against UNLV to move to 1-0 in Mountain West play. And what, exactly, is the significance of that 1-0 record? How’s this for a stat, tweeted out from the crew at Heat Check CBB: This is the first time the program has ever — EVER! — had a winning conference record.

Around the Mountain…

There were five games around the Mountain West on Wednesday night, the opening night of league play, with five more coming on Saturday.

• Nevada 74, Boise State 72
• San Jose State 75, UNLV 72 (OT)
• No. 22 New Mexico 88, Colorado State 69
• Fresno State 58, Wyoming 53
• San Diego State 71, Air Force 55
• (Utah State bye)

• Nevada at Air Force, noon MT (TheMW.com)
• Fresno State at Utah State, noon MT (CBSSN)
• San Diego State at UNLV, 1 PT/2 MT (CBS)
• New Mexico at Wyoming, 2 MT (FS1)
• San Jose State at Colorado State, 2 MT (TheMW.com)
• (Boise State bye)

Mountain West standings…

All that nonconfrence stuff was fun, but the records mean nothing now in conference play.

Through Wednesday’s games, where are the Mountain West Conference standings:

1-0 Fresno State
1-0 Nevada
1-0 New Mexico
1-0 San Diego State
1-0 San Jose State
0-0 Utah State
0-1 Air Force
0-1 Boise State
0-1 Colorado State
0-1 UNLV
0-1 Wyoming

Meanwhile, down in Las Cruces…

Yes, I often in years past used a spot after the Mountain West standings to check in with the state’s other Division I program, who happened to have their conference opener — their final season in the WAC.

In NMSU’s final first game of WAC play, they faced a Southern Utah team playing its first first WAC game. And the Thunderbirds, who UNM opened the season with in the Pit, upset the Aggies on Wednesday night in front of an announced Pan American Center crowd of 4,942.

The rare 1-0/0-1…

With NMSU’s dominance in the WAC since joining in the 2005-06 season, what happened on Wednesday is a pretty rare occurrence.

Wednesday marked just the third time the UNM Lobos started Mountain West play 1-0 the same season the NMSU Aggies started WAC play 0-1, and the first time it actually happened on the same date (their league play used to start at different times).

Here’s the list of seasons UNM started 1-0 in Mountain West play and NMSU started 0-1 in WAC play:

• 2022-23
• 2018-19
• 2012-13 (that season actually grew to 2-0 and 0-2)

Stats and stats…

Here’s a pic I posted of the postgame stat sheet: New Mexico 88, Colorado State 69

And if you prefer the digital box score, here you go: New Mexico 88, Colorado State 69

Grammer’s Guesses…

And so it begins…

Another season of Mountain West basketball means another season of embarrassing myself publicly by posting my pics — the Grammer’s Guesses — against the point spread alongside my now 13-year-old daughter’s coin flip picks for the same games to prove none of us really know anything about this sport.

On Wednesday’s opening night, the Guesses went 3-1-1 against the point spread while my daughter’s #TeamCoin coin flip picks also went 3-1-1.

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: House, Mashburn took Pitino’s praise of CSU guard personally

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