Emptying the Notebook: One Mo (Udeze) appreciation article as Lobos' season ends - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: One Mo (Udeze) appreciation article as Lobos’ season ends

Lobos’ Morris Udeze (24) looks to move past Utah Valley sophomore Aziz Bandaogo (55) during the 2023 National Invitation Tournament at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (Chancey Bush/ Albuquerque Journal)

Here are some extra notes, news, quotes, stats and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Wednesday’s 83-69 Lobos loss to Utah Valley in the first round of the NIT played in the Pit:

No Mo Udeze in the Cherry and Silver…

We barely got to know you, Uncle Mo.

Not too many players will go down in Lobo lore gaining as much popularity and appreciation from fans in only one season with the program as Morris Udeze just managed to do at UNM.

The Wichita State transfer decided to give UNM a chance as a fifth-year graduate transfer who was coveted by many. He said he came to UNM because he saw postseason potential and an opportunity for himself to show off parts of his game he hadn’t been able to fully display in the past.

While Wednesday didn’t go as any Lobo player or fan would have liked, Mo did get his wish this season.

The Lobos made the postseason for the first time in nine years (yes, the NIT and not the NCAA Tournament, but the postseason drought is, indeed, over). And Udeze not only got an opportunity to show off his complete skill set, he took that opportunity and ran with it.

And it benefitted both the Lobo basketball program and Udeze’s future earning potential as a professional basketball player, wherever that may be.

As UNM coach Richard Pitino put it about Udeze’s one-year stint with the Lobos, it was “a match made in heaven” that will not soon be forgotten.

Here’s Pitino’s full quote on Udeze, which can also be seen in the video below it:

“Just phenomenal,” Pitino said. “Hate that he had to walk off this court with a loss. But like I told him in the locker room, you certainly helped our program. I hope we helped your career. Because when you take these one-year guys, sometimes it doesn’t work.

“This was a match made in heaven. Whoever calls me, whether it’s NBA, overseas, G League, they’re going to get the greatest recommendation ever for a person and a player.”

As for what Udeze had to say after Wednesday’s game, it was what you would expect from the guy who earned so much respect from his teammates and Lobo fans for the way he handled business all season — after wins and after losses.

“For me, I just feel like for my last year, I wouldn’t want to choose another school but UNM,” Udeze said.

As for what the 6-foot-8 Udeze did specifically in Wednesday’s game, going head to head at the “5” spot against 7-foot Aziz Bandaogo, who is third in the nation in blocked shots per game at 2.9, well, Udeze had one of his best games in his college career:

• Points: 18
• Rebounds: 19
• Note: Broke Luc Longley’s UNM record of 18 rebounds in an NIT game (1990)
• Fouls drawn: 7
• Double-double: No. 15 on season

And just how much did his one-year stop in Albuquerque show off all those skills he had hoped to show before turning pro?

Udeze in 4 seasons at Wichita State:
• 675 points (7.3 per game)
• 396 rebounds (4.3 per game)
• 261-468 FG (.558 FG%)
• Double-doubles: 2

Udeze in 1 season at UNM:
• 558 points (16.4 per game)
• 326 rebounds (9.6 per game)
• 210-344 FG (.610 FG%)
• Double-doubles: 15

Where do some of those numbers place Udeze in the single-season Lobo record books?

UNM season rebounds
1. Drew Gordon (2011-12) — 388

6. Luc Longley (1989-90) — 330
7. Morris Udeze (2022-23) — 326
8. Darington Hobson (2009-10) — 325

UNM season double-double leaders
1. Willie Long (1969-70) — 23

7. Kenny Thomas (1997-98) — 16
8. Morris Udeze (2022-23) — 15
9. 5 tied — 14

And just for good measure, here’s one more look back at the December article we published on ‘Uncle Mo’ rooming with the three freshmen roommates:

The gamer…

Here is the game story I filed late Wednesday from the Pit’s media room…

A tale of two halves (season edition)…

• 34 games
• 15-2 in the first 17
• 7-10 in the second 17

The season was, in this reporter’s opinion, a rather large success in the grand scheme of things for the UNM Lobos. But there’s no denying the fall off that came when the overall competition got stiffer.

You can never take 14-0 away from the Lobos, and anyone trying to diminish the accomplishment of being the last of 363 Division I programs without a loss when four of those wins came to Top 100 KenPom teams (12 Saint Mary’s, 74 Iona, 93 South Alabama and 98 San Francisco) and eight of 14 came against the top half of Division I is an angry person and probably needs a hug.

The Lobos did good because that first half is a part of the season.

The Lobos would make their fans far more happy next season if they can do some more of that whole win a lot of games early thing again, but also then try the same for the second half of the season.

Hunting Hunter…

Jaelen House’s four steals on Wednesday pushed him to 86 for the season, the new single-season record for Lobo basketball, passing Lobo great Hunter Greene’s previous record of 84:

1. Jaelen House (2022-23) — 86 (in 32 games)
2. Hunter Greene (1986-87) — 84 (in 35 games)
3. Kelvin Scarborough (1984-85) — 80
4. Kelvin Scarborough (1986-87) — 78
5. Phil Smith (1983-84) — 77
6. Hunter Greene (1987-88) — 70

(the tweet below is from UNM when he tied the record)

Jaelen House’s stat line from Wednesday:

• Points: 14
• FG: 6-16
• FT: 0-0
• Assists: 5
• Turnovers: 1
• Steals: 4

Of note, the assist to turnover ratio was great, the steals were great, the shooting not so much. But most damaging to the Lobos might have been House’s inability to get to the free throw line. He’s been so good there this season and to go 0-0 at the charity stripe for just the third time this season really came at a bad time.

Updating my favorite stat of the season…

Speaking of free throws.

The stat I’ve continually updated this season because it seemed to represent best when the Lobos were at their best (or not): Who scored more at the free throw line?

On Wednesday, the Lobos did outscore Utah Valley at the free throw line, 10-8, but UNM did only shoot 10-of-19 (52.6%) at the line, a painful watch for a Lobo fan base so desperate for them to come back from that first half deficit.

It was one of the few times the Lobos outscored an opponent at the free throw line and still lost:

• 1-7 (0.125) when UNM got outscored by its opponent at the FT line
• 21-5 (0.808) when UNM outscored its opponent at the FT line


The announced attendance for Wednesday’s NIT game in the Pit: 6,803

Compared to the rest of the NIT…

Attendance figures for the 16 first-round games of the NIT:

• 6,803 — Utah Valley at No. 2 New Mexico
• 5,290 — Yale at No. 2 Vanderbilt
• 5,017 — Hofstra at No. 1 Rutgers
• 4,521 — Toledo at No. 3 Michigan
• 4,099 — *No. 1 Oklahoma State at Youngstown State
• 3,995 — Virginia Tech at No. 4 Cincinnati
• 3,919 — Bradley at No. 2 Wisconsin
• 3,252 — Villanova at No. 3 Liberty
• 3,023 — UCF at No. 4 Florida
• 2,697 — Morehead State at No. 1 Clemson
• 2,431 — UC Irvine at No. 1 Oregon
• 2,363 — Seton Hall at No. 2 Colorado
• 2,237 — Southern Miss at No. 4 UAB
• 2,122 — Alcorn State at No. 4 North Texas
• 1,671 — Eastern Washington at No. 4 Washington State
• 1,203 — **No. 3 Sam Houston at Santa Clara

*Oklahoma State is a No. 1 seed, but had to play on the road due to an arena conflict.
**Sam Houston is a No. 3, but had to play on the road due to an arena conflict.

Mash’s struggles and a message for the future…

Jamal Mashburn Jr., Wednesday night’s 1-for-14, six point shooting night notwithstanding, just put together one of the great single season scoring performances in Lobo basketball history.

Again, Wednesday may not have been the proof of that with just six points and his worst shooting night of the season. Even the only one that went in for him needed a friendly rim:

But take a step back from Wednesday’s stat sheet and appreciate what the All-Mountain West shooting guard just accomplished in his junior season, his second season with the Lobos:

• 19.1 points per game
• Led Mountain West in scoring overall (19.1)
• Led Mountain West in scoring in league play (21.0)

And look at where his season stacks up with the great Lobo scorers:

UNM Season Scoring
1. Kenny Page (1979-80) — 784 points (28 games)

7. Kelvin Scarborough (1986-87) — 660 points (35 games)
8. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (2022-23) — 651 points (34 games)

UNM Season FGs (made)
1. Kenny Page (1979-80) — 314 FGs (28 games)

t9. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (2022-23) — 233 FGs (34 games)
t9. Luc Longley (1989-90) — 233 FGs (34 games)
t9. Charles Smith (1995-96) — 233 FGs (33 games)

UNM Season FGAs (attempts)
1. Kenny Page (1979-80) — 618 FGAs (28 games)
2. Hunter Greene (1986-87) — 570 FGAs (35 games)
3. Ruben Douglas (2002-03) — 549 FGAs (28 games)
4. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (2022-23) — 545 FGAs (34 games)

And for any Lobos fans who may have needed to hear it in this transfer portal age, I did ask Jamal if he had already made up his mind 100% about next season.

“Yeah, I’m back,” Mashburn said.

And here I go throwing out one of these stats…

So I’ve already listed the record setting season for steals by Jaelen House and pointed out the fantastic scoring season for Mashburn, but then there’s this…

The two combined for 23 missed shots on Wednesday.

That’s tied for the second most combined missed FGs in a game for that duo in their two seasons together — three of those games were last season, two of those games were in the past month:

Most combined missed House/Mashburn shots
• 24 (13-27) — Dec. 19, 2021, loss (90-72) to SMU
• 23 (7-30) — Wednesday, loss (83-69) to Utah Valley
• 23 (6-29) — Feb. 22, 2023, loss (82-77) at Boise State
• 23 (16-39) — Feb. 28, 2022, loss (81-78) to Fresno State
• 23 (10-33) — Jan. 1, 2022, loss (79-70) at Nevada

A first time for everything…

The Lobos faced an opponent for the first time ever five times this season, including Wednesday night vs. Utah Valley. All five games were played in the Pit.

• W, 80-74 — South Alabama (Nov. 11)
• W, 79-61 — Jacksonville State (Nov. 25)
• W, 76-55 — North Dakota State (Nov. 26)
• W, 94-76 — UT-San Antonio (Dec. 10)
• L, 83-69 — Utah Valley (Wednesday)

You can’t spell Allick without 1K

Josiah Allick on Wednesday scored nine points, giving him 1,005 for his college career.

He becomes the fourth Lobo player this season to reach the 1,000 points scored career milestone, joining Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn, Jr., and Morris Udeze.

Allick’s career scoring:
• at UMKC: 719 points (3 seasons, 69 games)
• at UNM: 286 (1 season, 34 games)
• TOTAL: 1,005 (4 seasons, 103 games)

NIT history…

This was the 20th time the Lobos have played in the NIT, and first since 2011.

UNM is now 18-21 all-time in the tournament, including 15-7 in the Pit. (They have 21 losses in 20 NIT appearances because in 1990 with they made it to the Final Four, the NIT still played a third place game and the Lobos got two NIT losses that one season by losing the semifinal and the third place game).

Video: Pitino, Mashburn, Udeze and more…

Here is the postgame video of interviews with not only UNM’s Richard Pitino, Jamal, Mashburn, Jr., and Morris Udeze, but of Utah Valley’s Mark Madsen and Justin Harmon:

Presenting Jack Pitino’s bracket: The JACK-et…

Yeah, maybe former Albuquerque Journal sports reporter Andy Katz now does an annual bracket reveal with Barack Obama, but this Albuquerque Journal sports reporter just landed a much bigger name: Jack Pitino.

Here’s a video we put together of the NCAA Tournament bracket selections of Jack Pitino, the 8-year-old son of UNM coach Richard Pitino and Jill Pitino (and also the grandson of one Iona coach who Jack does NOT have winning it all this year).

Thank you, of course to the Pitinos and especially Jack, one of the Lobos’ hard-working ball boys, for indulging us in putting together this video.

And for those who may want to follow Jack’s picks in the tournament (or mine to see who not to pick), here is the article we posted with the above video embedded in there, too:


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

+6 Birima Seck (7:45)
-2 Donovan Dent (15:21)
-3 K.J. Jenkins (13:50)
-3 Sebastian Forsling (2:49)
-11 Javonte Johnson (32:20)
-11 Morris Udeze (36:09)
-14 Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (33:06)
-16 Josiah Allick (30:47)
-16 Jaelen House (27:53)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 18 unique lineup combinations in Wednesday’s game and played nine players. Utah Valley had 17 lineup combinations and played eight players.

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: -10 (31-41)
• Time on court: 20:13
• NOTE: The same starting five the Lobos played almost all season, and with good reason, simply didn’t have it on Wednesday.

The unit that logged, by far, the most minutes together this season didn’t play defense well (UVU scored 2 points every minute UNM’s starters were on the floor), didn’t take care of the ball (7 of the team’s 9 turnovers came from when the starting five was on the court together) and couldn’t exactly find its usual offensive rhythm (0.7844 points per possession is one of the lowest PPPs all season for the starting five).

All that pretty much sums up Wednesday. Great season. Pretty bad final game.

• Who: Donovan Dent/K.J. Jenkins/Jamal Mashburn, Jr./Birima Seck/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +2 (9-7)
• Time on court: 3:40
• NOTE: Not sure I ever posted this lineup in this section this entire season. And it wasn’t that they killed it, but on Wednesday, a plus-2 scoring differential is all it took to be the “best” lineup of the night for the Lobos.

• NOTE: As noted above, the starters were the worst lineup of of the night on Wednesday. Two other combinations had a -3 tally in limited tome on the court, but none were as bad as the starting five.

Elsewhere in the NIT…

Maybe some of you reading this are done with the NIT.

For those who are not, here’s a tweet the NIT put out with the updated bracket…

Around the NIT…

The opening round of the NIT featured 16 games — eight on Tuesday, eight more on Wednesday:

• Hofstra 88, No. 1 Rutgers 86 (OT)
• No. 3 Michigan 90, Toledo 80
• No. 4 UAB 88, Southern Miss 60
• No. 3 Liberty 62, Villanova 57
• No. 2 Vanderbilt 71, Yale 62
• No. 2 Wisconsin 81, Bradley 62
• No. 3 Colorado 65, Seton Hall 64
• Eastern Washington 81, No. 4 Washington State 74

• No. 1 Oklahoma State 69, Youngstown State 64
• No. 3 Sam Houston 58, Santa Clara 56
• No. 2 North Texas 69, Alcorn State 53
• No. 1 Oregon 84, UC Irvine 58
• UCF 67, No. 4 Florida 49
• No. 4 Cincinnati 81, Virginia Tech 72
• Morehead State 68, No. 1 Clemson 64
• Utah Valley 83, No. 2 New Mexico 69

NIT second round…

• Michigan at Vanderbilt
• Hofstra at Cincinnati

• Liberty at Wisconsin
• Utah Valley at Colorado
• Eastern Washington at Oklahoma State
• Sam Houston at North Texas
• UCF at Oregon UCF
• Morehead State at UAB

Meanwhile, in the WNIT…

Colleague Ken Sickenger put together this game preview for Thursday’s UNM Lobo women’s matchup in the WNIT, which will also be played in the Pit:

Meanwhile, in that other tournament…

The Nevada Wolf Pack — the final team selected to play in the NCAA Tournament and the fourth Mountain West team playing in the Field of 68 — didn’t exactly do much to prove they deserved to be in the Big Dance.

Nevada lost to Arizona State, 98-73, cutting what was a lead of 30 down to 25 by the final buzzer.

For any of you Mountain West fans who watched that Nevada/Arizona State game, if you felt like something, or someone, looked familiar on that Arizona State quad, you were right.

ASU starts two players who were starters on last year’s Nevada team — Desmond Cambridge and Warren Washington. And Cambridge was asked after Wednesday’s game what it was like facing his old team that he left after last season’s struggles.

Around the Mountain…

Here’s the Round of 64 slate of games for the Mountain West teams in the NCAA Tournament:

• No. 11 Utah State vs. No. 7 Missouri, 11:40 a.m. (TNT)
• No. 12 Charleston vs. No. 5 San Diego State, 1:10 (truTV)
• No. 10 Boise State vs. No. 7 Northwestern, 5:35 p.m. (truTV)

Still looking for New Mexico ties in the postseason?

If you still want a New Mexico rooting interest in men’s college basketball’s postseason, might I interest you in the story we posted earlier this week on all the New Mexico ties playing in the NCAA Tournament?

Stats and stats…

Here is a picture of the final stat sheet from Wednesday’s game: Utah Valley 83, New Mexico 69

And if you prefer the digital stats, here you go: Utah Valley 83, New Mexico 69

Thank you…

With that being the final Lobos game of the season, this will be the final emptying of the notebook of the season.

It’s been a blast having you all join me on this ride and I truly appreciate all the feedback you all have given me about this column and so much more.

Thank you.

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: One Mo (Udeze) appreciation article as Lobos’ season ends

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