By Hayden Graham Armstrong
For Enchantment Sports
After a monumental win last Saturday, when the New Mexico men’s basketball team dismantled then sixth-ranked and unbeaten Nevada, the average Lobo fan would think that the Lobos would be one of the top favorites in the Mountain West for the rest of the season.
After Tuesday’s home loss to UNLV, that may not be the obvious case here. The Lobos collapsed late in the game to the Rebels, 80-69.
Things didn’t look all bad for the Lobos. In the first half, they seemed to have picked up right where they left off from Saturday against Nevada. Makuach Maluach came out aggressive, Corey Manigault looked to officially be out of Paul Weir’s doghouse, and Carlton Bragg looked unstoppable in the post. The only question mark about last night was Anthony Mathis running the point for 99 percent of the game. I mostly question this, because the only point guard on Earth that can run the point effectively and shoot the ball from anywhere on the court is Steph Curry, and we can all agree that Anthony Mathis is not Steph Curry. Not to mention this is Anthony’s first year having to bring the ball up the floor every time he’s on the court.
What won UNLV the game was simply the fact that Rebel coach Marvin Menzies had a better game-plan against the Lobos than Nevada did. The quickness of the Rebel guards was something UNM was not prepared for as well as UNLV’s ability to do whatever it took to keep the ball out of Manigault and Bragg’s hands in the second half. The Lobos were back to what they looked like a couple weeks ago, being unable to enter the ball into the post, when that’s what the majority of their points came from in the first half.
The biggest things that UNM needs to work on is finding another point guard to give Mathis some rest or allow him to play away from the ball and try to get open, and, dare I say, find ways to enter the ball into the post. The second thing should not be something that UNM coach Paul Weir should ever have to be addressing to his team full of Division I college basketball players. Entering the ball into the post should be something that you learn as a basketball player in grade school and should never have to go over in practice as much as Weir needs to.
Final Thoughts for Lobo Fans: DON’T BLAME THE REFS FOR LOBO LOSSES AT THE PIT. I know that Mountain West referees can be very controversial sometimes, but fans also need to realize that every Lobo team for the last 15-20 years has had to deal with the same referees. If you look back to the Alford era, the same officials called those games. Off the top of my head, I can count on one hand the amount of losses the Lobos encountered in The Pit under Alford.
This Lobo team still has a ways to go before they get back to the level of what they once were, and that is primarily controlled by coach Weir and his team, not the officials.
Hayden Armstrong was born in Albuquerque, N.M, graduated from La Cueva High School in 2016, and is currently a student at the University of New Mexico. Hayden has been a die-hard Lobo fan since birth, attending his first basketball game at not even a year old.
Hayden currently works as an intern for the popular sports and pop culture blog, Barstool Sports. He serves as a student correspondent of UNM for the “College Viceroy Program” at Barstool Sports. Providing a student’s point of view for all things UNM.
For more, follow Hayden on Instagram and Twitter.
IG: @hayden.armstrong @barstoollobos
Twitter: @h10armstrong @BarstoolLobos