Emptying the Notebook: Air Force latest to beat up on Lobos right after halftime - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: Air Force latest to beat up on Lobos right after halftime

UNM Lobos, from left, Morris Udeze, Javonte Johnson, K.J. Jenkins, Jamal Mashburn, Jr., and Jaelen House during Friday night’s game in the Pit against Air Force. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
Here are some extra notes, stats, quotes and whatever other odds & ends I managed to empty out of the old notebook after Friday night’s 81-73 Lobos win over Air Force in the Pit:

Teams keep pouncing on Lobos after halftime…

The sample size is growing large enough now that we can probably call it a trend.

The UNM Lobos won on Friday to improve to 19-3. That’s a good thing for the program, obviously. But they are proving to be at their worst, statistically speaking, in the 10 minutes after halftime — something that again showed up Friday in the team’s win over Air Force.

The Falcons jumped out on a 10-2 run in the first four minutes of the second half on Friday night, changing the complexion of the game.

By the 10-minute mark of the second half, UNM’s 43-34 halftime lead was a 56-55 Air Force lead — a 10-point swing in which the Falcons out-scored UNM 22-12 in that segment of the game.

Now, sometimes, that just happens. You can’t win every segment of the game. The other team has good stretches, too. That’s what UNM Lobos coach Richard Pitino hopes happened on Friday.

“I think tonight you got to give the other team credit. There was some other games that might have been different,” Pitino said. “I just thought they were really really good and we were breaking down defensively. And then we normally can counter with good offense but we were 1-for-whatever for a while there. So give them credit. I think tonight I think Air Force was really, really crisp in the second half.”

But then, again, starting the second half poorly for the Lobos didn’t only happen on Friday night.

Let’s break down the 40-minute game into four 10-minute segments — you know, a crazy concept of making a basketball four quarters like how it’s done in literally every other level of basketball, domestic or international, men’s or women’s, youth or adult, EXCEPT for the men’s college basketball game that insists on keeping two 20-minute halves.

As we breakdown the scoring margin for UNM by 10-minute increments, we see that easily the worst 10-minute segment all season for UNM has been that “third quarter”. UNM has outscored teams by 253 points, but that is entirely made up of quarters 1, 2 and 4.

One of these is not like the others:

• 1st quarter (20:00-10:01 1H): plus-96 points
• 2nd quarter (10:00-00:00 1H): plus-81 points
• 3rd quarter (20:00-10:01 2H): minus-3 points
• 4th quarter (10:00-00:00 2H): plus-80 points
(UNM is minus-1 in OTs)

So, clearly the time right out of halftime has been an issue for the Lobos, often times after having a lead at the break (UNM has led 17 times at halftime this season).

More specifically over 23 games (92 quarters, not counting OT):

• 5 games — UNM outscored in 1st 10 minutes
• 7 games — UNM outscored in 2nd 10 minutes
• 10 games — UNM outscored in 3rd 10 minutes
• 5 games — UNM outscored in 4th 10 minutes

Maybe it’s that long walk up the Pit ramp then up the stairs all the way to the team locker room 37-feet above court level (and then back down) at halftime is wearing the team out?

Maybe opposing teams just always make great adjustments at the break?

Maybe the Lobos are really bad at picking good halftime music to listen to?

Whatever it is, it’s a trend at this point and one the Lobos probably need to figure out if they don’t want to lose pace in a hunt for a possible Mountain West championship as they are now halfway through the league’s 18-game conference schedule.

The gamer…

Here’s the gamer I filed from the Pit media room on Friday night after the Lobos beat the Air Force Falcons…

1,000 points, part 1 — Uncle Mo…

For Morris Udeze, he scored his 1,000th collegiate point in Monday’s game at Nevada, making him the third Lobo player this season (House and Mashburn) to be honored with a pregame ceremony the next game (Friday night in this case) with a fancy ball with pretty writing on it commemorating the milestone.

For Udeze, his 1,000 point breakdown looks like this:
• Wichita State (4 seasons): 675 points
• UNM (22 games): 345 points
• Total: 1,020 points

1,000 points, part 2 — Still Mashing…

Jamal Mashburn, Jr., earlier this season was honored for scoring 1,000 points in college, too. Like Udeze, that was combining points from UNM with his previous school (in Mashburn’s case, that means Minnesota plus UNM points).

But Friday night, in just game No. 22 of his second season, he became the 36th person to score 1,000 points as a Lobo.

• Minnesota (29 games): 237 points
• UNM (54 games): 1,011
• Total: 1,248

Congratulated on the milestone after the game, Mashburn said: “It feels great. Feels great. I mean, I’m just playing my game. Just trying to win these games, man. I mean, just trying to just trust my work and just keep attacking it. So, appreciate it though.”

Here’s the list of the 36 members of the 1,000 points (as a Lobo) club that Mashburn is now working his way up:

30. Chad Toppert (2006-09): 1,067
31. Ira Harge (1963-64): 1,016
t32. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (2021-present): 1,011
t32. Rob Loeffel (1986-89): 1,011
t34. Alex Kirk (2011-14): 1,010
t34. Rom Becker (1968-70): 1010
36. Hugh Greenwood (2012-15): 1,006

Some more bullet points:

• He’s scored 20 or more in six-straight games
• He’s scored double figures for 43-consecutive games (longest active streak in the Mountain West, second-longest active streak in nation)
• His 19.5 points per game leads the league
• His 22.7 points per MWC game leads the league (by more than 3 points per game over the next closest player)

Also, I wrote a little something in Friday’s Journal about Mashburn doing all this scoring using a shot — the midrange jumper — that has all but vanished as a regular tool in the bag of most college players:

They said it: Joe Scott and Richard Pitino

Hats off to the Falcons. They played a tremendous game on Friday night and, for awhile there, it looked like they might have a chance to beat the Lobos in the Pit in front of 15,000 people. It would have been their first win in the Pit since 2007.

Both Air Force coach Joe Scott and UNM coach Richard Pitino seemed to agree: The Falcons played their game — their very unique style of basketball — pretty well.

Though it didn’t happen for Air Force, look at how similar what both coaches said about their play was:

“What I really liked about our team today was just a much better understanding of what Air Force basketball is — a much better understanding of what an Air Force basketball player is and what that means. And when you play that way, you know what, we’ve got the makings.” –Air Force coach Joe Scott

• • • 

“It kind of went the way I thought it would go. I think Air Force is much improved. They were really, really running in their stuff to perfection in the second half. They were cutting harder. They were getting us on back doors.” –New Mexico coach Richard Pitino

So, yes. Air Force looked like Air Force and did lots of Air Force things on Friday.

Halfway home…

UNM and Air Force on Friday became the first two teams to officially hit the halfway mark of the 18-game Mountain West schedule.

UNM (6-3) has already surpassed last season’s conference win total of five from last season. Air Force at 3 wins is one away from last season’s win total of 4.

The Mountain West went to an 18-game league schedule in the 2013-14 season. Here’s a look at how many conference games UNM has won in that span:

MWC win totals in 18-game format
*6 — 2022-23
5 — 2021-22
2 — 2020-21
7 — 2019-20
7 — 2018-19
12 — 2017-18
10 — 2016-17
10 — 2015-16
7 — 2014-15
15 — 2013-14
* Still 9 MWC games to play

Guarding Jaelen …

Thanks to a photo I posted during the game from the Journal’s Roberto E. Rosales, some Lobo fans were having fun with the facial expression of Air Force sophomore guard Ethan Taylor.

Seriously, though. This pretty much sums up how most people would feel having to guard Jaelen House…

On Friday night, as good as Jamal Mashburn, Jr., was down the stretch, the computer formula at KenPom.com tabbed House the “MVP” of the game based on statistics.

And that’s the 8th time this season House has been the computer-determined “MVP” of a game, which is tied for 8th most in Division I basketball and most in the Mountain West.

House’s stat line on Friday:

• 19 points
• 5-7 2FG
• 2-6 3FG
• 3-3 FT
• 5 rebounds
• 4 assists
• 2 turnovers
• 6 steals

(yes, SIX steals!)

That puts House at four career games with six steals (three this season). His all-time high is 8 vs. Grambling State on Nov. 15, 2021).

Where does that leave House on his season-long pursuit of passing Lobo legend Hunter Greene for the program’s single-season steals record?

1. Hunter Greene (1986-87) — 84
2. Kelvin Scarborough (1984-85) — 80
3. Kelvin Scarborough (1986-87) — 78

t8. Jalen House (2022-23) — 63*
t8. Danny Granger (2004-05) — 63
* At least 10 more games to play


The announced attendance for Air Force at New Mexico in the Pit on Friday night: 15,143

Friday was the third time this season there have been 15,000-plus in the Pit.

Top 5 attendances in the Pit this season:
• 15,424 — Jan. 7 vs. UNLV
• 15,215 — Dec. 28 vs. Colorado State
• 15,143 — Friday vs. Air Force
• 14,566 — Jan. 20 vs. Boise State
• 14,534 — Dec. 18 vs. Iona

A number to know: 81

The 81 points UNM scored on Air Force was just the second time the Falcons have allowed a team to reach 80 this season.

Unfortunately for AFA, the other time was just earlier this week when San Jose State did it with 83 points on Tuesday night.

In the past two season’s Air Force has surrendered 80 or more points five times, twice to the Lobos:

Air Force allowing 80 past two seasons:

• 91 — vs. New Mexico (Feb. 5, 2022)
• 85 — vs. Boise State (Feb. 16, 2022)
• 83 — at San Jose State (Tuesday)
• 83 — vs. Utah State (March 9, 2022 — MWC Tournament)
• 81 — at New Mexico (Friday)

Dented, not broken…

Lobo coach Richard Pitino said he was told freshman Donovan Dent, who turned his ankle in the second half off Friday’s game when he came down on an Air Force player’s foot, could likely have returned to the game if necessary. Same with sophomore big man Birima Seck, who left after a collision with an Air Force player.

Said Pitino: “I was told they were both good to go. I just — putting a freshman in, in that situation with a hobbled ankle, I was a little bit concerned.

“And Birima seemed fine as well. So, hopefully they’ll rest tomorrow and they’ll be back full go.”

Mo problems for Air Force…

Lobo senior Morris Udeze had 15 points, 8 rebounds and three blocked shots on Friday night.

Good stats.

Here are even better stats:
• 0 personal fouls
• 9 fouls drawn

Zero fouls committed.

Nine fouls drawn.

My captain obvious observation of the day is this: That’s a pretty good ratio.

Of those nine fouls drawn, two fouled out Air Force forwards (Beau Becker and Nikc Jackson), not to mention giving each of those players several of their earlier fouls, too.

Udeze is now at 6.0 fouls drawn per 40 minutes, tops on the Lobos roster and fourth best in the Mountain West among players who have played at least 40% of the available minutes.

How about this play?

How about this entry-pass turned one-handed catch and kick-out assist by Josiah Allick setting up K.J. Jenkins for a 3-pointer?

Journal photographer Roberto E. Rosales also has a picture of the pass — the second one in this group of four picks I tweeted out of Roberto’s pictures during the game:

Video: Pitino, Mashburn, Udeze…

Here is the postgame media availability with UNM coach Richard Pitino and Lobo players Jamal Mashburn, Jr., and Morris Udeze…


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

+14 Morris Udeze (37:29)
+12 Jaelen House (38:21)
+10 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (36:23)
+4 Javonte Johnson (23:423)
+2 K.J. Jenkins (23:10)
+2 Birima Seck (1:02)
-1 Josiah Allick (27:28
-3 Donovan Dent (12:44)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 11 unique lineup combinations in Friday’s game and played eight players. Air Force had 10 lineup combinations and played eight players.

The Lobos have used the same starting lineup in 21 of 22 games played this season (the lone exception being the one game wing Javonte Johnson was out vs. Oral Roberts with an elbow injury).

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

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +3 (18-15)
• Time on court: 9:22
• NOTE: The starters played less than 1/4 the game on Friday, which is odd considering UNM went just eight deep and two of those reserves were limited by injury (Birima Seck played just 1:02 and Donovan Dent just 12:44). Nevertheless, the starters did fine, but not spectacular. They scored 1.9 points per minute and grabbed 11 of the 32 rebounds UNM had in the game.

• Who: Jaelen House/K.J. Jenkins/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +10 (24-14)
• Time on court: 9:45
• NOTE: When they went small — three guards, a wing and a big — the Lobos were really good on Friday night. The switch here from the starting lineup was K.J. Jenkins subbing in for Josiah Allick, who had a rare off night in my mind with foul trouble (though 8 points and 7 rebounds is hardly an off night for most players). Jenkins was 2-of-4 from 3-point range in the game and having to honor four player’s outside game (him, House, Mashburn and Johnson) seemed to really open things up for the Lobos. This unit scored 2.46 points per minute, 1.3 points per possession and came up with five of the team’s nine steals.

• Who: Donovan Dent/K.J. Jenkins/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick
• Point differential: -4 (0-4)
• Time on court: 1:39
• NOTE: It wasn’t an extended stretch on the court together, but in 1:39, this group couldn’t manage to score. In a night the Lobos still got into the 80s, a unit not being able to score ain’t great.

AP Top 25 blues…

The Lobos won on Friday, but dropped Monday night’s game after earlier in the day returning to the AP Top 25.

On the season, the Lobos are now 3-3 as a ranked team:

Wins as an AP Top 25 team this season:
• vs. Colorado State (Dec. 28)
• at Wyoming (Dec. 31)
• vs. Air Force (Friday)

Losses as an AP Top 25 team this season:
• at Fresno State (Jan. 3)
• vs. UNLV (Jan. 7)
• at Nevada (Monday)

As frustrating as 3-3 might be for Lobo fans while ranked, how about this bummer of a stat for Air Force against ranked teams?

Air Force is now 4-89 all-time against ranked teams.

The last time the Falcons beat a ranked team was March 9, 2013, vs. the No. 12 UNM Lobos in the regular season finale of Steve Alford’s final season with the Lobos.

The winning coach that night at Clune Arena? Current UNM Assistant to the Head Coach Dave Pilipovich.

Around the Mountain…

The Lobos and Falcons had the Mountain West stage to themselves on Friday with four more games coming Saturday and then a midweek slate of four Tuesday games and one on Wednesday:

• No. 25 New Mexico 81, Air Force 73

• Utah State at Fresno State, 4 p.m. PT/5 p.m. MT, TheMW
• Colorado State at Boise State, 6 p.m. MT, CBSSN
• San Jose State at San Diego State, 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT, FS1
• Nevada at UNLV, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT, CBSSN

• Boise State at Air Force, 7 p.m. MT, TheMW
• UNLV at Colorado State, 7 p.m. MT, TheMW
• Fresno State at Wyoming, 8 p.m. MT, FS1
• San Diego State at Nevada, 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m. MT, CBSSN

• New Mexico at Utah State, 8:30 p.m. MT, FS1

Mountain West standings…

Here are the Mountain West standings through Friday night:

7-1 San Diego State
6-2 Boise State
6-2 Nevada
6-3 New Mexico
5-3 Utah State
4-4 San Jose State
3-5 Fresno State
3-6 Air Force
2-6 UNLV
2-6 Colorado State
1-7 Wyoming

Mountain West +/- standings…

And here are the Mountain West’s +/- standings with a plus-1 for a road win and a minus-1 for a home loss:

+3 San Diego State
+2 Boise State
+2 Nevada
+1 New Mexico
+1 Utah State
0 San Jose State
-1 Air Force
-1 Fresno State
-2 Colorado State
-3 Wyoming

Stats and stats…

Here is the final stat sheet from Friday’s game: New Mexico 81, Air Force 73

And if you prefer the digital version, here it is: New Mexico 81, Air Force 73

Grammer’s Guesses…

Another loser of a night for the Guesses. I’m now 19-25-1 on the season and my daughter’s coin flip picks are even worse (16-28-1).


UNM plays at Utah State on Wednesday night in Logan, Utah, in a game that starts at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on FS1.

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: Air Force latest to beat up on Lobos right after halftime

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