Emptying the Notebook: Wyoming last season, UNM now catching all the breaks - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: Wyoming last season, UNM now catching all the breaks

University of New Mexico’s Josiah Allick defends against University of Wyoming’s Jeremiah Oden (25) during a game Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Laramie, Wyoming. (Logan Newell/For the Albuquerque Journal)

LARAMIE, Wyoming — Here are some extra notes, quote, stats and whatever else I managed to empty out of the old notebook after Saturday’s 76-75 Lobos win over the Wyoming Cowboys:

This time, the Lobos got the call…

Last season, Wyoming got all the breaks.

While UNM was the team struggling to win games and was playing without key players (remember that whole losing their top three centers thing from a season ago?), they still matched up well with Wyoming in their Jan. 22 game in Laramie.

But the Cowboys, in the midst of a dream season that included them returning to the national rankings and eventually making it to the NCAA Tournament, benefited from a block/charge call involving Hunter Maldonado in a crucial juncture of the game that helped propel them to a two-point win over the struggling Lobos.

Fast forward 11 months and this season’s surprisingly successful team is the UNM Lobos, who are off to a 14-0 start and ranked No. 22 in the nation. And in Saturday’s game in Laramie, once again, there was a block/charge call on Maldonado in a crucial point late in the game that played a huge part in what wound up a 1-point Lobos win (76-75).

It’s as though the basketball gods had a hand in it — making sure the whistle in both cases took care of the team that had more to lose.

Take a look at these two calls that could have gone either way (we’ve seen these calls go either way plenty in college basketball)…

First, on Jan. 22, 2022, this was called a charge on Jamal Mashburn, Jr., in the final minute, turning what could have been a chance for Mashburn to shoot two free throws with a chance to tie the game instead into a foul on the Lobos, and a quick technical foul on UNM coach Richard Pitino protesting the call.

Wyoming went on to win, 93-91.

Now, about eleven months later, in the Lobos’ return trip to Laramie, this was called a blocking foul on Maldonado as Javonte Johnson drove to the rim — the same one as the play above from last season — with 2:32 left in the game. Johnson’s bucket went in, tying the game at 72-72 and more importantly for the Lobos, fouling Maldonado out of the game. A call the other way would have not counted the bucket, left the Lobos trailing and left Maldonado in the game during a stretch in which only his fouls could stop him because the Lobos sure weren’t anytime he got in the paint.

Maldonado had been unstoppable near the rim for the previous couple minutes before that play, scoring 6 of Wyoming’s 8 points in the four possessions before he fouled out. He answered every Lobos bucket with one of his own and the Lobos had no answers for him.

These are the play-by-play notations from the the stat book on three consecutive Wyoming possessions shortly before Maldonado fouled out:

• 5:34 – 66-66 – Made Turnaround Jumper By WYO #24 Maldonado, Hunter In The Paint
• 4:48 – 68-68 – Made Turnaround Jumper By WYO #24 Maldonado, Hunter In The Paint
• 4:00 – 70-70 – Made Turnaround Jumper By WYO #24 Maldonado, Hunter In The Paint

He just kept doing it.

And if he stayed in, who’s to say he wouldn’t have just kept doing it?

Instead, after Maldonado fouled out, here is the run down of Wyoming possessions to close the game:

• Made layup (Wyoming led 74-72)
• Missed 3-pointer
• Made 1-2 free throws (Wyoming led 75-74)
• Missed FT (missed front end of a 1-and-1)
• Missed 3-pointer, offensive rebound…
• Missed jumper
• Missed desperation heave at buzzer

Had Maldonado still been in the game, I’m guessing he’d have been a better option than missed jumpers and 3-pointers.

Some say good teams make their own breaks. Other say they get all the breaks. These two teams have lived on both sides of that over the past 11 months.

The gamer…

Here’s the gamer I filed from Laramie on Wednesday afternoon before hitting the road south to Denver to catch my flight home to Albuquerque…

And then there were two…

Before the Lobos and Cowboys tipped off on Saturday in the Dome of Doom, the UConn Huskies fell to Xavier, 83-73, in Cincinnati.

The significance of that result?

It was Connecticut’s first loss of the season, meaning there are now just two remaining undefeated teams in Division I basketball (out of 363) — No. 1 Purdue and No. 22 New Mexico.

Time for our regular update each time a team loses for the first time from Wyoming graduate Ken Pomeroy:

Here’s a look at who is left without a loss and who/when they play their next two games:

• No. 1 Purdue (13-0) — Monday vs. Rutgers, Thursday at Ohio State
• No. 22 New Mexico (14-0) — Tuesday at Fresno State, Saturday vs. UNLV

Also, the Lobos advancing to 14-0, as was the case at 13-0, are off to the second best start in the 119 seasons of Lobo basketball. Here are the top five starts:

17-0: 1967-68
14-0: 2022-23*

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

14 is more than 13…

Saturday’s win for the Lobos was No. 14 on the season, surpassing last season’s win total of 13 in 32 games played.

Even without another win for the team, Pitino getting more wins in Year 2 as the Lobos coach already puts him ahead of the program’s three prior coaches.

Here’s a look at the biggest win total jumps (and drops) from Year 1 to Year 2 in the modern era of Lobo basketball (considered by me to be the Bob King to present era):

Win differential Year 1-Year 2
Listed in order of highest jump, to largest drop from one season to the next

• Bob King
Year 1 (1962-63): 16
Year 2 (1963-64): 23
Change: +7

• Ritchie McKay
Year 1 (2002-03): 10
Year 2 (2003-04): 14
Change: +4

• Gary Colson
Year 1 (1980-81): 11
Year 2 (1981-82): 14
Change: +3

• Fran Fraschilla
Year 1 (1999-2000): 18
Year 2 (2000-01): 21
Change: +3

• Norm Ellenberger
Year 1 (1972-73): 21
Year 2 (1973-74): 22
Change: +1

• Richard Pitino
Year 1 (2021-22): 13
Year 2 (2022-23): 14*
Change: +1*
* At least 18 games remain

• Dave Bliss
Year 1 (1988-89): 22
Year 2 (1989-90): 20
Change: -2

• Steve Alford
Year 1 (2007-08): 24
Year 2 (2008-09): 22
Change: -2

• Paul Weir
Year 1 (2017-18): 19
Year 2 (2018-19): 14
Change: -5

• Craig Neal
Year 1 (2013-14): 27
Year 2 (2014-15): 15
Change: -12

• Charlie Harrison
n/a — only coached one season (1979-80)

15/15 for Josiah…

Josiah Allick had his first double-double of the season for the Lobos with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

He also had five offensive boards, marking the third time this season he had five or more offensive boards in 14 games. That matches how many games with five or more offensive rebounds he had in three seasons at Missouri-Kansas City before transferring to UNM.

As for 15/15 games, BasketballReference.com tells us he was the 67th Division I player to do that this season, but just he second Mountain West player to do so.

Here’s the list of Mountain West players who have gone for 15 and 15:

• Josiah Allick, UNM — 15 points, 15 rebounds at Wyoming (Saturday)
• Daniel Akin, Utah State — 21 points, 15 rebounds at San Diego (Nov. 17)

Here are some Allick big plays from Saturday:

-and-

House’s big week…

Jaelen House has never won the Mountain West Player of the Week award.

This week, he and San Jose State’s Omari Moore each made a pretty good case for it (Moore averaged 22.0 ppg, 6.0 apg and the Spartans are, for the first time in program history, 2-0 in Mountain West play).

Here’s House’s two-game averages for the week as the Lobos won a pair of games:
• 21.0 points per game
• 5.0 assists per game
• 4.0 steals per game
• 1.5 blocks per game

After being the primary defender on one of CSU point guard star Isaiah Stevens’ worst games, House was doing stuff like this on Saturday…

And this…

As I’ve highlighted plenty this season, House is putting up crazy stats on offense and defense.

Consider this: After his five steal game on Saturday in Wyoming, he’s leading the Mountain West in steals per game at 2.9, but he also had three blocked shots — the second time this season the 6-foot-0 guard has had a three-block game.

He turns defense into offense better than any player in the league right now.

And here’s a nugget that’s hard to beat:

House is the only player in the Mountain West in the top 10 in both steals per game (he’s 1st, 2.9) and blocks per game (he’s 10th, 0.9).

There are two Air Force players in the top 20 in both:
• Corbin Green — 1st in blocks (2.3), 11th in steals (1.3)
• Rytis Petraitis — 19th in blocks (0.7), 16th in steals (1.1)

He said it…

“I think our guys, considering the circumstances – (Hunter) Thompson not playing, Noah (Reynolds) getting hurt, Maldo (Hunter Maldonado) being in foul trouble – really stepped up against a really good team.” –Wyoming coach Jeff Linder

OK, K.J. I get it. It was a bad question!

Remember that time I asked K.J. Jenkins, the best shooter on the Lobo basketball team, if he had ever lost any confidence in his shot when he was off to a slow start this season?

And remember his letting me know that was a bad question?

Here’s a refresher…

And guess what, he’s still reminding me just how a loss of confidence doesn’t exactly enter into his mind as a shooter.

Here is KJ’s first 10 games and his last four games:

First 10 games
• Points per game: 6.9 ppg
• Double digit scoring games: 2
• Made 3-pointers: 9
• 3FG%: 30.0%

Last 4 games
• Points per game: 13.8 ppg
• Double digit scoring games: 4
• Made 3-pointers: 14
• 3FG%: 60.9%

Saturday, Jenkins went for 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting (4-for-5 3-pointers), 2 assists, no turnovers, 1 steal. He also hurt his foot in the game. I have no update on that from after the game.

When you can mention Fennis Dembo…

When you can mention Fennis Dembo in ETN, you mention Fennis Dembo in ETN. That’s sort of one of the rules.

So… Hunter Maldonado on Saturday started his 128th game for the Cowboys, tying him with one of the all-time Mountain West greats, Fennis Dembo.

OK. Dembo mention complete. Carry on…

Attendance…

The announced attendance at Arena Auditorium on Saturday for No. 22 UNM at Wyoming: 4,823

Here are the announced attendances of all 10 Mountain West games from week 1 of conference play:

15,215 — Colorado State at New Mexico (Dec. 28)
12,414 — Air Force at San Diego State (Dec. 28)
7,911 — Boise State at Nevada (Dec. 28)
7,249 — San Diego State at UNLV (Dec. 31)
6,933 — Fresno State at Utah State (Dec. 31)
4,823 — New Mexico at Wyoming (Dec. 31)
4,268 — San Jose State at Colorado State (Dec. 31)
4,165 — Wyoming at Fresno State (Dec. 28)
2,234 — UNLV at San Jose State (Dec. 28)
1,704 — Nevada at Air Force (Dec. 31)
Boise State has not yet played a home conference game.

Hot ticket…

Speaking of attendance, UNM announced on Saturday evening it’s down to 1,000 available tickets for Saturday’s (Jan. 7) home game in the Pit vs. UNLV.

It appears headed toward a sell out by early in the week. It would be the first sell out in the 15,411-seat Pit since March 2015.

VIDEO: Postgame with Pitino, Mashburn, Allick…

Here is the postgame video I put together of the three interviews I did after Saturday’s game with Richard Pitino, Jamal Mashburn Jr., and Josiah Allick…

Did you see?

Here is a photo slideshow of images the Journal captured from Saturday’s game in Laramie…

Plus/minus…

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

+15 K.J. Jenkins (25:42)
+5 Donovan Dent (16:26)
+5 Birima Seck (3:09)
+2 Josiah Allick (38:36)
+1 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (35:36)
-2 Sebastian Forsling (3:51)
-6 Morris Udeze (13:09)
-6 Javonte Johnson (31:42)
-9 Jaelen House (31:49)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 18 unique lineup combinations in Saturday game and played nine players. Wyoming had nine lineup combinations and played nine players.

The Lobos have used the same starting lineup in all 14 games they have played this season.

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

STARTING LINEUP AND WORST LINEUP
• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: -10 (10-20)
• Time on court: 9:10
• NOTE: Yeah, when your starting point guard ends the game at -9 and your starting center ends the game at -6 with more turnovers (3) than points, shots, assists, steals and blocked shots combined, you know you’re going to have some issues. The starting five scored just 0.59 points per possession together, the unit’s worst PPP of the season.

BEST LINEUP
• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./K.J. Jenkins/Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick
• Point differential: +5 (33-28)
• Time on court: 12:29
• NOTE: This grouping scored a solid 1.557 points per possession while UNM overall for the game scored 1.101 points per possession. This group had five of the team’s 12 assists and played closest to the tempo and offensive efficiency (2.64 points per minute) that the Lobos have been playing at most of the season. As noted above, K.J. Jenkins was a big reason why.

WORST LINEUP (after the starters)
• Who: Donovan Dent/Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick
• Point differential: -7 (2-9)
• Time on court: 2:48
NOTE: This wasn’t one of the best games played by the freshman point guard, Donovan Dent. Aside from an untimely turnover at the end of the game, he was 0-for-3 shooting. The only difference between UNM’s best lineup on Saturday and its worst was the change out of K.J. Jenkins for Donovan Dent.

Meanwhile, in Fort Collins…

Tim Miles has the San Jose State Spartans rolling.

Omari Moore went off for 29 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Spartans, who were 9-point underdogs, to a 78-70 win over Colorado State in Moby Arena on Saturday. That’s the first-ever 2-0 start in Mountain West play for the Spartans and first-ever win over Colorado State.

Around the Mountain…

There were five games around the Mountain West on Saturday, three more coming Tuesday and just one on Wednesday…

SATURDAY
• Nevada 75, Air Force 69
• Utah State 67, Fresno State 54
• No. 22 New Mexico 76, Wyoming 75
• San Jose State 78, Colorado State 70
• San Diego State 76, UNLV 67

TUESDAY
• Utah State at Air Force, 7 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
• San Jose State at Boise State, 7 p.m. MT (TheMW.com)
• No. 22 New Mexico at Fresno State, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)

WEDNESDAY
• Colorado State at Nevada, 7:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. MT (FS1)

Mountain West standings…

Through Saturday’s games, here are the Mountain West standings…

2-0 Nevada
2-0 New Mexico
2-0 San Jose State
2-0 San Diego State
1-0 Utah State
1-1 Fresno State
0-1 Boise State
0-2 Air Force
0-2 Colorado State
0-2 UNLV
0-2 Wyoming

Home/road…

Wednesday, Mountain West home teams went 5-0.

Saturday, Mountain West home teams went 1-4.

Speaking of home and road…

Here are the plus/minus standings for Mountain West play through just two games. For those unfamiliar, a team gets a plus-1 for a road win and a minus-1 for a home loss.

For now, they look a lot like the regular standings above, though not identical there in the middle.

Mountain West +/- team standings
+1 Nevada
+1 New Mexico
+1 San Jose State
+1 San Diego State
0 Boise State
0 Fresno State
0 Utah State
-1 Air Force
-1 Colorado State
-1 UNLV
-1 Wyoming

Meanwhile, down in Las Cruces…

Again, followers of ETN for years know that I pretty much always update the Aggie game in this spot when they play on the same day as the Lobos. So the fact that one team is 2-0 in league play and the other is 0-2, with both losses being on their home court, isn’t meant as a piling on in a mostly Lobo-centric column.

Here’s the update…

For New Mexico State, the loss is…

• First 0-2 start in WAC play since 2012-23
• First back-to-back home losses since 2010
• Only second time ever NMSU has been 0-2 in WAC at the same time UNM has been 2-0 in Mountain West (also in the 2012-13 season)

Stats and stats…

For those of you who want to see the postgame stat sheet, here you go: New Mexico 76, Wyoming 75

And for those of you who want the digital version of the stats, here you go: New Mexico 76, Wyoming 75

Grammer’s Guesses…

Not a good day for my daughter’s lucky coin.

While the Guesses went 3-2 on the day and are now a solid 6-3-1 after the first week of Mountain West play at picking games against the point spread, my daughter’s coin flip picks needed that calendar to change to 2023.

#TeamCoin went 1-4 and she’s now 4-5-1 on the season.

Happy New Years ETN readers!

To all of you who continue to read this silly Emptying the Notebook column I throw together after each Lobos game, thank you.

Happy New Year. Here’s to a lot of happy notebook emptying in 2023.

Until next time…

Well, it wasn’t one of my usual empty arena pics on Saturday. There was, after all, a women’s basketball game between Wyoming and Fresno State taking place after the Lobos/Cowboys mens game.

Alas, my ETN road game tradition must go on, so…

Until next time, Arena Auditorium, on the campus of the University of Wyoming in Laramie…

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: Wyoming last season, UNM now catching all the breaks

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