Blown out again

UNM men’s bas­ket­ball team blasted 85-60 by St. Mary’s in Los An­ge­les

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY GE­OFF GRAM­MER JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

LOS AN­GE­LES — This one wasn’t about emo­tion. And it wasn’t about a hos­tile road en­vi­ron­ment get­ting the bet­ter of them.

No, this one was pretty sim­ple. It was a beat­down.

Just not one Paul Weir says war­rants whole­sale changes just yet.

The Univer­sity of New Mex­ico Lo­bos, as they’ve of­ten done this sea­son, fell be­hind early and never re­ally even gave a hint of mak­ing a game of it Fri­day, get­ting hu­mil­i­ated by the Saint Mary’s Gaels, 85-60, in the Hall of Fame Clas­sic in the Sta­ples Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les.

It was the sec­ond blowout de­feat for the Lo­bos (4-3) in as many games, as the team went 0-2 this week and lost by a com­bined 60 points while head coach Paul Weir con­tin­ues to stick with a style of play that clearly failed him and the team in the past two games.

“I think there’s an obli­ga­tion to con­tinue to build a pro­gram,” Weir said, re­spond­ing to a re­porter’s pointed ques­tion about whether he should back off his team’s non-tra­di­tional high-risk, high­re­ward schemes on of­fense, de­fense and even with how he picks start­ing line­ups based on hus­tle plays as op­posed to player con­ti­nu­ity or what unit gives the team the best chance to start games with a bang.

“I think there’s an abil­ity to maybe make some changes in the things that you talk about, but at the same time, I also have to think about the greater needs of the pro­gram and the greater abil­ity to build a foun­da­tion of the things that we want.”

UNM’s start­ing unit has not scored first this sea­son in seven games and has

fallen be­hind sig­nif­i­cantly be­fore the first rounds of sub­sti­tu­tions are made. In the pre­vi­ous two games, the Lo­bos dug 11-0 holes at Bradley and NMSU. Fri­day, it wasn’t 11-0, but it was 19-4 just 5½ min­utes into the game.

To start the sec­ond half, the Gaels ex­tended what was a 43-29 lead to 58-29 with a 15-0 run that both Weir and Saint Mary’s coach Randy Ben­nett said was the key to the game.

De­fen­sively, the Lo­bos’ press didn’t speed up the dis­ci­plined Gaels (6-4) and es­pe­cially not vet­eran guard Jor­dan Ford, who is just 6-foot-1, and the next in a long line of shorter guards who have had their way with UNM this sea­son. Ford used a va­ri­ety of crafty moves to score 28 points on 10-of-15 shoot­ing.

“Our one-on-one de­fense has been a real chal­lenge for us this year,” Weir said, though he added he’s not ready to bail on his pref­er­ence of high-pres­sure man-toman de­fense.

“At the seven-game mark, it’s just a lit­tle early for me to say, ‘You know what? Maybe we just can’t guard, let’s get back and go do this.’” Weir said. “I’m just not there yet, not with our youth. Not with the way last sea­son was able to turn around. And not with the fact that we’ve had some pretty darn good wins this year.”

UNM shot 34.8 per­cent, had just eight as­sists and the team that re­lies on 3-point shoot­ing as its bread and but­ter was just 4-of26 (15.4 per­cent) from be­yond the arc with sharp­shooter An­thony Mathis go­ing 2-for-9 over­all and 0-for-8 from 3.

“It’s been two re­ally hum­bling games of­fen­sively, and I think that re­ally af­fected us on the de­fen­sive end as well,” Weir said. “We’ve got to find a way to get out of this funk of­fen­sively and make some shots hope­fully and open up the game a lit­tle bit.”

UNM got team highs of 12 points and eight re­bounds from Vance Jack­son. Makuach Malu­ach added 10 points, but did so on just 4-of-11 shoot­ing. The Lo­bos were out­re­bounded 38-27.

“These last two games have been re­ally ex­pos­ing to us in a lot of ways,” Weir said.

NOTES: Corey Mani­gault, who was seen on video throw­ing a punch be­fore Tues­day’s ri­valry game at NMSU, made the trip, but was held out serv­ing an in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion. Weir said he hasn’t de­ter­mined yet how long it will last. … For­mer Lobo Michael Cooper sat be­hind the Lo­bos bench, as did UNM Pres­i­dent Gar­nett Stokes.

MARK J. TERRILL/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Saint Mary’s for­ward Eli­jah Thomas, top, and New Mex­ico’s Vance Jack­son go to the floor in pur­suit of a loose ball dur­ing the first half of the Gaels’ 85-60 rout of the Lo­bos at the Sta­ples Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les.

MARK J. TERRILL/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Mex­ico for­ward Makuach Malu­ach puts up a shot in­side as St. Mary’s cen­ter Jor­dan Hunter goes for a block.

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