Emptying the Notebook: House's return is huge for Lobos, but Mo sent a message - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: House’s return is huge for Lobos, but Mo sent a message

Provident Credit Union Event Center on the campus of San Jose State University on Feb. 17, 2023. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets and whatever other odds & ends I managed to empty out of the old notebook after Friday’s 96-68 Lobos win at San Jose State:

Mo makes a statement …

Morris Udeze has a message for you.

The Lobo big man tweeted after Friday’s dominating 96-68 road win as San Jose State: “We are not done yet!!!!”

Now, for obvious reasons, Jaelen House’s return to the UNM lineup on Friday night was the headliner in the game story I filed from courtside shortly after the final buzzer on Friday. His absence the previous two games with a hamstring injury coincided with the Lobos’ worst two losses of the season, so his return coinciding with a blowout win against a much better team begs for attention.

But in Friday’s preview article in the Journal, I featured Udeze trying to send a message that he didn’t think the Lobos were nearly as done as some of the team’s own fans and those watching from around the league and country had started to talk about.

Friday night, the 6-foot-8 center delivered in a big way against the biggest team in the league and all the while going right at the Mountain West’s leading shot blocker, Ibrahima Diallo,, ending up with the following grown-man statline:

• Points: 31
• Shooting: 11-14
• FTs: 9-12
• Fouls drawn: 7
• Fouls committed: 2
• Rebounds: 12
• Blocks: 2
• Turnovers: 0

The double-double was No. 11 of the season for him, leading the Mountain West Conference… by a lot.

Most double-doubles Mountain West 2022-23 (overall)
11 — Morris Udeze, New Mexico
6 — Dan Akin, Utah State
4 — Eduardo Andre, Fresno State
4 — Rytis Petraitis, Air Force
4 — Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State
4 — Sage Tolbert, San Jose State

Most double-doubles Mountain West 2022-23 (conference games)
9 — Morris Udeze, New Mexico
3 — Dan Akin, Utah State
3 — Eduardo Andre, Fresno State
3 — Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State

But just saying he did good doesn’t put into proper context just how good he was on Friday and has been both times UNM has played the much-improved Spartans.

30 point games vs. San Jose State this season:
35 — Tyler Perry, North Texas (Nov. 25)
34 — Hunter Maldonado, Wyoming (Feb. 4)
31 — Morris Udeze, UNM (Friday)

10 or more rebounds vs. San Jose State this season:
14 — Morris Udeze, UNM (Jan. 17)
12 — Morris Udeze, UNM (Friday)
12 — Daniel Estes, Bethesda University (Nov. 12)
10 — Darrion Williams, Nevada (Jan. 7)
10 — Payton Sparks, Ball State (Nob. 27)

Double-doubles vs. San Jose State this season:
• Morris Udeze, UNM (Friday) — 31 points, 12 rebounds
• Morris Udeze, UNM (Jan. 17) — 17 points, 14 rebounds
• Payton Sparks, Ball State (Nov. 27) — 14 points, 10 rebounds
• Daniel Estes, Bethesda University (Nov. 12) — 10 points, 12 rebounds)

Maybe as impressive as anything on Friday was how fearless Udeze, on the shorter side for centers at 6-foot-8, was when going right at the Mountain West’s leading shot blocker Ibrahima Diallo, who stands 7-feet tall.

“He was terrific down low,” UNM coach Richard Pitino said of Udeze. “He made his free throws and our guys found him. We’ve been really harping on — we got to find him. He’s one of the best big guys in the league. But he was very very poised at the basket because Diallo is huge and Mo did a great job of making some really good moves.”

The gamer…

Here’s the game story I filed from the Provident Credit Union Event Center after Friday night’s game:

A number to know: 20

The Lobos sat on that 19th win awhile. In fact, it took them five tries to get to win No. 20 on the season, but they got there. This is the program’s first 20-win season since 2014, which also happens to be the last season the program played in an NCAA Tournament.

There have been 28 teams in UNM’s 119 seasons of basketball to reach 20 wins in a season.

Look who’s back…

Jaelen House was suited up Tuesday ahead of the UNM/Wyoming game, but then didn’t get in the game.

Friday, he was warming up (kinda) before the game, but frankly, it didn’t appear to be a sure thing whether he would play.

But, he did. And boy, did he make a world of difference.

House was back and his presence helped UNM dominate on both ends of the floor. House was just 3-of-10 shooting, but his five steals set up the UNM offense to get running out in transition and, as he did on this play…

After missing two games with that hamstring injury, which followed a zero-steal game in the Feb. 7 Nevada loss, House fell off the single-season record pace of Lobo legend and current radio analyst for the team Hunter Greene, who had 84 steals in the 1986-87 season.

Then came his five-steal eruption on Friday night, giving him 70 for the season, putting him in a tie for fifth most in a season.

At his current 2.8 steals per game average — which leads the Mountain West and is third in the nation — and assuming he plays five more games (four in regular season and at least one in the Mountain West Tournament — House will at least tie Greene’s record, but has a good chance to move beyond it if the Lobos can win one game in the league tourney or play in any postseason event.

UNM single-season steal record:
1. Hunter Greene (1986-87) — 84
2. Kelvin Scarborough (1984-85) — 80
3. Kelvin Scarborough (1986-87) — 78
4. Phil Smith (1983-84) — 77
t5. Jaelen House (2022-23) — 70
t5. Hunter Greene (1987-88) — 70
*House’s current pace, assuming just five more games: 84

Another number to know: 28

The Lobos beat San Jose State by 28 points on Friday, the biggest Mountain West win for UNM since a 29-point home win over Wyoming on Feb. 8, 2020.

It was UNM’s largest margin of victory over a Mountain West opponent on the road since a 39-point win (81-42) at Air Force on Jan. 31, 2012.

No Forsling…

Sophomore center Sebastian Forsling can’t catch a break this season. Friday in shoot around, the 7-footer from Sweden hurt his elbow and will likely miss several games, Pitino told me.

No streaking in California…

One could argue the four biggest games of the season for the UNM Lobos came in their four trips to California.

Take a look at the streak-busting aspect and overall importance to the season at the time each game was played:

• NOV. 30: The Lobos win at Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Calif., to end a 23-game home win streak for the Gaels — a victory that remains, according to the NCAA’s NET rankings and all computer metrics, the best win of any Mountain West team this season (tied with Colorado State, which also managed to beat Saint Mary’s after the Lobos ended their win streak).

To date, the SMC win is the main reason the Lobos are still in bubble talk for the NCAA Tournament.

• JAN. 2: The Lobos lose at Fresno State, ending their national-leading 14-game win streak and becoming the final team in the country to lose their first game of the 2022-23 season, dropping to 14-1. UNM’s stay atop the perch of the only unbeaten team in the nation lasted barely 24 hours after Purdue lost the night before.

The loss was the first of two that week for the Lobos, who were dropped from the national rankings as a result.

• JAN. 14: The Lobos knocked off a nationally-ranked San Diego State team in Viejas Arena in San Diego, ending the Aztecs’ 16-game home win streak. UNM remains the only team to win in Viejas this season. SDSU’s other six Mountain West home games so far were won by the Aztecs by an average of 14.5 points, which is part of the reason the Lobos’ 9-point win there is arguably the second-biggest win of the season in the entire league.

(Yes, the Lobos may own the two best statistical wins of the entire season for all Mountain West teams in their victories at Saint Mary’s and at San Diego State).

• FEB. 17: Some think it might be too late, but if the Lobos are still to find their way into the NCAA Tournament at-large conversation in a few weeks on Selection Sunday, the reality is Friday’s game might have been as important as any.

Aside from the mini-streak busting aspect of it — UNM did end a four-game skid and a three-game skid in San Jose — the get-right game reminded people, and maybe the Lobos themselves, that when they are playing their best game, they can beat just about anyone or blowout just about anyone, like Friday’s 28-point win over the Spartans.

Mash update…

All the dude does is score.

Every. Single. Game.

Another game, another double-digit scoring effort from Jamal Mashburn, Jr., who now has scored in double figures in 48 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Mountain West and second longest active streak in the country.

Oh, and his 27 points on Friday night was also his 13th 20-point game of the season, tops in the league for the Mountain West’s leading scorer:

1. 20.0 — Jamal Mashburn, Jr., (UNM)
2. 18.3 — E.J. Harkless (UNLV)
3. 17.7 — Jarod Lucas (Nevada)
4. 17.0 — Omari Moore (San Jose State)
5. 16.9 — Jaelen House (UNM)

MW LEADING SCORERS (conference games)
1. 22.6 — Jamal Mashburn, Jr., (UNM)
2. 20.8 — E.J. Harkless (UNLV)
3. 19.9 — Omari Moore (San Jose State)
4. 18.9 — Isaiah Stevens (Colorado State)
5. 18.5 — Jarod Lucas (Nevada)

Mash also continues to fly up the UNM all-time scoring list. He now has 1,360 career points scored — 237 at Minnesota as a freshman and now 1,123 Lobo-only points over the past two seasons.

UNM’s all-time scoring list:
(points scored only as a Lobo)

24. Roman Martinez (2006-10): 1,159
25. Charlie Tomas (1987-1989): 1,158
26. Johnny Brown (1984-86): 1,157
27. Phillp McDonald (2008-12): 1,146
28. David Chiotti (2002-06): 1,145
29. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (2021-present): 1,123
30. Ike Williams (1990-93): 1,086
31. Chad Toppert (2005-09): 1,067
32. Ira Harge (1962-64): 1,016
33. Rob Loeffel (1985-89): 1,011
t34. Alex Kirk (2010-14): 1,010
t34. Ron Becker (1967-70): 1010
36. Hugh Greenwood (2011-15): 1,006

Tommie Smith and John Carlos…

One of my favorite spots on all my stops around the Mountain West is the statues on the campus of San Jose State University of Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in their iconic pose on the medal stand.

Here’s a little background on the “Victory Salute (Olympic Black Power)” display that has been on campus — just about 500 feet or so away from the arena the Lobos and Spartans played in on Friday night — since 2005: VICTORY SALUTE

Another number to know: 28 (a different 28 than the previous one)

San Jose State scored 28 second-chance points.

Compared to the Lobos’ 8, you might think that spelled trouble for UNM, especially considering the most UNM had given up in any game all season was 19 (Boise State on Jan. 20).

But while SJSU, the league-leader in rebounding margin and No. 1-ranked team in the Mountain West in offensive rebound rate, dominated the stat sheet’s rebounding column (48-34 overall and 29-7 on offensive boards), Spartans coach Tim Miles summed up why that probably wasn’t as effective as one might think.

“You’re missing a lot of shots when you have 29 offensive rebounds,” Miles noted.

And he’s right.

San Jose State was held to just 31.4% shooting, making 22-of-70 shots.

Or maybe more appropriately, missing 48-of-70 shots.


The announced attendance on Friday night in the Provident Credit Union Event Center for UNM at SJSU: 2,917

That is the second largest announced attendance this season for the Spartans.

It’s hard to win on the road. Or is it?

Coaches of any and every league will tell you: Road wins are hard to come by in conference play.

And in the Mountain West, they say, that’s even more true.

But, I hate to tell you, that isn’t exactly true anymore. At least not the past couple seasons.

After Friday night’s road teams went 2-0 in the Mountain West (Air Force won at Wyoming and New Mexico blew out San Jose State), the league’s home win percentage in conference play dipped to 59.2% (45 home wins in 76 league games played).

That ranks just 18th out of 32 conferences in the country and is the fourth-lowest home win percent in a season (counting only league games) in the Mountain West’s 24 season history.

To be fair, the old Mountain West had places like BYU and Utah in the mix and those were replaced through the years with teams like San Jose State, who other than this season and one other season weren’t winning many other games at home.

Still, I think people would be surprised to see how the road numbers in the Mountain West actually have played out the past couple seasons.

MWC’s Top 5 highest home win %
(conference games only)
1. 76.8% — 2004 (national rank: 1)
2. 71.4% — 2001 (national rank: 4)
3. 70.8% — 2013 (national rank: 2)
4. 70.8% — 2007 (national rank: 2)
t5. 69.6% — 2012 (national rank: 3)
t5. 69.6% — 2002 (national rank: 2)

MWC’s Top 5 lowest home win %
(conference games only)
1. 55.6% — 2011 (national rank: 30)
2. 57.6% — 2014 (national rank: 21)
3. 58.3% — 2010 (national rank: 24)
*4. 59.2% — 2023 (national rank: 18)
5. 59.6% — 2018 (national rank: 17)

*NOTE: Season still ongoing.

VIDEO: Pitino and Mashburn…

Here is the postgame video interviews the Journal conducted with Lobo coach Richard Pitino and junior guard Jamal Mashburn, Jr., on Friday night:


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

+31 Josiah Allick (29:44)
+16 Morris Udeze (31:48)
+22 Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (29:08)
+21 Javonte Johnson (33:05)
+20 Jaelen House (25:15)
+10 K.J. Jenkins (15:51)
+10 Birima Seck (16:27)
+8 Donovan Dent (15:50)
+1 Safi Fino-A-Laself (1:26)
+1 Mac Manzanares (1:26)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 16 unique lineup combinations in Friday’s game and played 10 players. San Jose State had 25 lineup combinations and played 15 players.

With Jaelen House back in the starting lineup, that makes 24 games this season (out of 27) for UNM with the same starting five.

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

STARTING LINEUP (and best lineup)
• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +9 (32-23)
• Time on court: 13:19
• NOTE: I’ll say it again. Welcome back, Jaelen House. With the point guard back in the lineup, the Lobos looked great on both sides of the ball. His defense disrupted everything and his clip the court in the blink of an eye speed after a steal had the UNM transition offense looking good again for the first time in awhile.

The starters averaged 1.4 points scored per possession — and where sharing the ball well (five assists and just 1 turnovers in their 13-plus minutes on the court.

• NOTE: See above.

• Who: Donovan Dent/K.J. Jenkins/Javonte Johnson/Morris Udeze/Birima Seck
• Point differential: -2 (4-6)
• Time on court: 2:49
• NOTE: They didn’t play long together, and -2 is hardly a horrible night at the office, but some lineup combination had take home the distinction of the “worst” of the night.

Meanwhile, in Laramie…

Air Force continues to play some pretty solid basketball, even if their record doesn’t necessarily reflect it. The Falcons improved on Friday night in Laramie to 5-10 on the season, completing the season sweep of the Wyoming Cowboys…

Around the Mountain…

There were two games around the Mountain West on Friday night, two more on Saturday and a rare Sunday game to complete the full weekend slate…

• Air Force 75, Wyoming 69
• New Mexico 96, San Jose State 68

• Colorado State at Fresno State, 4 p.m. PT/5 p.m. MT (TheMW)
• Nevada at Utah State, 6 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)

• UNLV at Boise State, 7 p.m. MT (FS1)

Mountain West standings…

Here are the Mountain West standings through Friday night:

12-2 San Diego State
10-3 Boise State
10-3 Nevada
9-5 Utah State
7-7 New Mexico
7-7 San Jose State
5-9 Fresno State
5-9 UNLV
5-10 Air Force
3-10 Colorado State
3-11 Wyoming

• NOTE 1: Top 5 teams get bye into the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West Tournament. Teams 6-11 have to play an extra “first round” game in the tournament.
• NOTE 2: UNM holds the tiebreaker against San Jose State via a season sweep of the Spartans. .

KenPom movement…

Here’s how the KenPom.com rankings — based primarily on offensive and defensive efficiency statistics — moved after Friday’s blowout win for the Lobos:

• New Mexico improved from 63rd to 48th
• San Jose State dropped from 93rd to 106th

Stats and stats…

Here is the postgame stat sheet from Friday night in San Jose: New Mexico 96, San Jose State 68

And if you prefer the digital version, here you go: New Mexico 96, San Jose State 68

Grammer’s Guesses…

You can’t stop me. Or my daughter’s magic coin! We both went 2-0 on Friday night and I think it’s safe to say we may never make a wrong pick again.

Never mind the fact that the 2-0 night only brings me up to 35-41-1 on the season and her to 34-42-1.

Until next time…

Until next time Provident Credit Union Event Center on the campus of San Jose State University …

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: House’s return is huge for Lobos, but Mo sent a message

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