LOBO MEN: UNM loses double-digit lead vs. Colorado, and Paul Weir loses his cool

FEATURE PHOTO: (Courtesy of Cameron Goeldner/Daily Lobo)

 

By Mark Smith

Enchantment Sports

Editor in Chief

There are bad losses– and there are bad losses.
This was yet another bad one for the New Mexico men’s basketball team, no matter how you look at it. And second-year New Mexico men’s basketball coach Paul Weir had seen enough after his Lobos lost to Colorado 78-75 in the Pit on Tuesday night.

Uncharacteristically, Weir showed his disgust and anger during the postgame news conference. He vented his frustration, stormed out of the presser and smacked the wall outside of the media room.

Weir’s reaction came after radio announcer Henry Tafoya’s question/statement. Tafoya isn’t known for asking pointed, but does tend to make them over-dramatized. Weir’s answer even more dramatic. Here was the result.

After being hammered by a combined 60 points in back-to-back games outside of the Pit, this time the Lobos went to the wire with Colorado.

It wasn’t anything like the 100-65 thumping the Lobos took on Dec. 4 against New Mexico State or the 85-60 blowout against Saint Mary’s on Friday in Los Angeles. In many ways, it was worse.

During UNM’s most recent trio of games – the other being an 85-75 win at Bradley on Dec. 1 – the Lobos fell behind by double-digits in the opening minutes.
The slow starts have been a huge topic around Loboland, but a slow start wasn’t the problem against Colorado.
This time, the Lobos couldn’t finish – the game or layups.

“We got out to a lead; which is a little unusual for us and I don’t know if we didn’t know how to handle that, or we just took our foot off the gas,” Weir said. “I’ve never seen a stat, in the history of basketball, that talks about whether the beginning of a game means anything, if at all. It gets talked about. … Early leads mean nothing.”galles

While the Lobos (4-4) were far from great in the first half on Tuesday, they were pretty solid – and they had the Buffaloes (8-1) spinning.

UNM took a 9-7 lead on a 3-pointer by senior Anthony Mathis about four minutes into the game. The Lobos didn’t trail again until less than five minutes remained in the game when the Buffs used a 7-0 run to go on top 66-64. Once New Mexico fell behind, it never caught back up.

The only double-digit leads this time around, were by the Lobos. They had them multiple times – and led by as many as 17 points (32-15). They also led 52-38 in the second half
But unlike its last two opponents, New Mexico couldn’t put the hammer down with a big cushion.

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UNM basketball coach Paul Weir, red sweater, has seen his Lobos lose three straight. On Tuesday, they fell 78-75 to Colorado in the Pit. (Courtesy of Cameron Goeldner/Daily Lobo)

The Lobos’ full-court press was strong in the first half, and was one of the primary reasons the Buffaloes had 12 turnovers in the half.
But Colorado made just one turnover in the second half against a defense that, at times, seemed nonexistent.
The Lobos continue to struggle against quick guards, and Colorado sophomore McKinley Wright IV got to the hole at will on Tuesday – making a number of clutch drives for layups in the second half.

New Mexico also got inside the paint plenty, but couldn’t finish. Colorado’s 6-foot-7 sophomore Tyler Bey had five blocked shots and intimidated a number of others, but UNM still missed numerous open layups.

The physical Buffaloes were much better at converting inside, and got the benefit of the whistle as well. Colorado was 21-of-32 from the foul line while the Lobos were 7-of-14.
That’s an eye-popping statistic, but it’s pretty difficult to say the Lobos were home-towned in their home town. Colorado looked more aggressive inside all evening.

That leads to rebounding, which continues to be an issue for UNM. The Buffaloes had a 51-38 advantage on the boards.

The Lobos’ full-court press was strong in the first half, and was one of the primary reasons the Buffaloes had 12 turnovers in the half.
But Colorado made just one turnover in the second half against a defense that, at times, seemed nonexistent.
The Lobos continue to struggle against quick guards, and Colorado sophomore McKinley Wright IV got to the hole at will on Tuesday – making a number of clutch drives for layups in the second half.
New Mexico got inside plenty as well, but couldn’t finish. Colorado’s 6-foot-7 sophomore Tyler Bey had five blocked shots and intimidated a number of shots, but UNM still missed numerous open layups.
The physical Buffaloes were much better at converting inside, and got the benefit of the whistle as well. Colorado was 21-of-32 from the foul line while the Lobos were 7-of-14.
That’s an eye-popping statistic, but it’s pretty difficult to say the Lobos were home-towned in their home town. Colorado was more aggressive inside all evening.

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Colorado’s McKinley Wright drives past UNM’s Tavian Percy during the Buffaloes’ win against UNM. (Courtesy of Cameron Goeldner/Daily Lobo)

PIT STOPPED: It was a quiet, almost docile, atmosphere for much of the game. It seemed more like an early-season tuneup against some small directional school. The power of the Pit simply wasn’t there. That’s not shocking after the team’s most recent losses.
Still, you could hear the squeak of sneakers much of the night.
The announced attendance was 10,800.

FOUL UP: Lobo senior Anthony Mathis was 7-of-10 from 3-point range and had a game-high 23 points. But he wasn’t on the floor for the Lobos’ final possession, having fouled out with 5.8 seconds remaining.
Mathis had just buried his final 3 of the game with 7 seconds left to cut the Buffaloes’ lead to 76-75, and the Lobos called time out.
UNM was forced to foul coming out of the time out, so Mathis should have been on the bench to make sure he wasn’t the one committing the foul. But he took the floor after the time out, and fouled Lucas Siewert to stop the clock.

“It ended up being the wrong call; that’s on me,” Weir said. “My immediate thought was the New Mexico State game, (in the Pit, won 98-94 by the Aggies) when we got a live ball turnover. If we get a turnover, we need him on the court. … It was a bad call in hindsight.”

Siewert made both free throws. UNM pushed the ball upcourt and got it to Vance Jackson, but his contested 3-point attempt was an air-ball at the final buzzer. Jackson was 4-of-16 from the floor, but hit a pair of 3s. His second cut Colorado’s lead to 74-72 with 42 seconds remaining, but Wright blew by the Lobos’ defense for a layup on the Buffs’ next possession.

Corey Manigault, who was suspended for the Saint Mary’s game because of fighting in pregame warm-ups at New Mexico State, played 14 minutes against Colorado. He was 3-of-10 for eight points and four rebounds. Jackson had a team-high eight rebounds while Karim Ezzeddine added seven.


Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in the state’s history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.

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