The New Mexico Lobos looked solid in game one of a two game series against San Jose State, beating the Spartans 67-51, Thursday afternoon.
Makuach Maluach had 25 points in that win for the Lobos. Rod Brown put in 15 points, as UNM lifted their record to 5-8 overall and 1-8 in the Mountain West Conference.
Saturday looked a lot different. Playing without top scorer Richard Washington, San Jose State was still able to pull of a stunning 83-71 win.
What defense was there on Thursday was nowhere to be found Saturday. San Jose State had five players in double figures, led by four of them with 16 points each. Trey Smith had the biggest impact, as he knocked down 4-of-8 three pointers for the Spartans.
With the loss the Lobos are now 5-9 overall and 1-9 in the Mountain West Conference. However, with the way Saturday went, it feels as though the sky is falling on the 2020-21 season.
What went wrong:
The Lobos showed a lack of focus and energy in Saturday’s contest. Appearing that the long months traveling through Texas and Utah have taken its toll on the Lobo team.
Makuach Maluach was one of those that struggled Saturday, scoring just six points, well off his 14 points a game average.
On top of that the Lobos committed 15 turnovers on Saturday, after just having nine in the win on Thursday.
Head coach Paul Weir said that Saturday’s performance was all on him. “I did not do a good job, obviously, preparing our team mentally to come out and play with the type of energy that we needed,” Weir said in the post-game presser.
What went well:
On Thursday, the Lobos looked solid in all phases of the game. They forced SJSU into 15 turnovers in that contest, while also outrebounding the Spartans 39-33.
The Lobos also caught a break when SJSU leading scorer Richard Washington was injured after playing just 13 minutes and scoring only three points. With no one else to turn to, the Spartans offense sputtered.
On Saturday, despite the loss, the Lobos got some solid play from Valdir Manuel and Saquan Singleton. Manuel scored a career high 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Singleton continued his string of hot play with 14 points and 11 assists.
If the Lobos can keep getting production like that from Manuel and Singleton, there is no doubt that the Lobos can begin competing well against others, given that Maluach bounces back from his struggles.
New Mexico now sits at a tie for last place in the conference with San Jose State. With Fresno State on the horizon, things look bleak for the Lobos chances to stay out of the basement.
Fresno State is 5-6 overall and 3-6 in conference. The Bulldogs have lost three in a row, but easily handled these same San Jose State Spartans earlier this month, winning both games in the series by 15 points.
Fresno State is unable to play games at their home arena, so the series with UNM will be played in Phoenix, Arizona. The series will be on Thursday and Saturday. Game one on Thursday night will be aired on CBS Sports Network.
The Lobos are allowed now to return to New Mexico and practice. However, they are still unable to host a game in the state of New Mexico for the time being, due to the state’s health order. A return home is much needed for this team that have been on the road since early December.