Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Lobos drop conference opener to Nevada | Sports

The University of New Mexico basketball team, which was on the court for the first time in 10 days, was 79:70 from Nevada with 79 on Saturday night in Reno, New York, in the Coronavirus-delayed start of the Mountain West Conference for both teams with 79:70: 70 dropped.

It was the UNM’s fifth consecutive loss to former Lobos coaches Steve Alford and Craig Neal. In his third season as Nevada head coach, Alford has won four of these games with at least 10 points.

He became No. 5 by forcing sales with his wolf pack (7-5, 1-0) and generating offensive when transitioning. The Lobos (7-7, 0-1) committed 17 wrong decisions, their second-highest single game of the entire season. Of those, 10 lost the ball came in the second half as Nevada turned a close game into a 19-point cushion at halftime.

“Live ball envelopes,” said UNM coach Richard Pitino. “When we were in the half-field we were fine defensively, but those live ball turnovers killed us and they are really good during the break.”

The Lobos got an early spark from Senior Saquan Singleton. The Guardian got his first start to the season in place of Taryn Todd, and he came through, ending up 14 points in 6v7 with three assists and four rebounds.

He struggled with foul and sat in the second half for a long time when Nevada started pulling out. The wolf pack was behind at break 36-35, but ended with four players in double digits, led by Desmond Cambridge with 18 points.

Preseason All-MWC player Grant Sherfield was held at 10 points and went the entire first half without a basket made. He managed 10 assists and took half his points off the free throw line when Nevada turned to its other key players to get the game under control.

The killer, Pitino said, was the second half when the ball losses were the direct result of his offensive being disrupted by the more assertive play of the wolf pack. He called it a “breach of trust” in the second half.

“Just the unwillingness to play the ball,” he said. “We need to give these guys more answers from an offensive flow standpoint. We run a set and it just stops. It won’t work, and unless you really have a real post presence, you can’t really throw it in there. You have to have a great ball movement that we don’t have at the moment. “

Ten Lobos got playing time in the game on Saturday. Each of them had at least one turnover.

Nevada opened a 69-50 lead in the final five minutes, but New Mexico took advantage of a longer run that took them to five in the waning moments. Nevada is icing up on the free throw line.

It was also a tough shooting night for UNM guards Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House. The pair combined to miss 23 shots, nine of them from 3-point distance.

“If house and mash are 10-33, we won’t win a lot of games because they are a lot of our offensive work,” said Pitino. “That would be like Klay Thompson and Steph Curry were gone. I mean, right now we just don’t have a really low post presence with our roster. The two have to work a little better together to get better pictures of each other. “

Saturday’s game marked the UNM’s first game since a December 21 home win against Norfolk State. The start of the conference on Tuesday against the nationally ranked Colorado State was postponed due to COVID-19 problems in the CSU program.

The Lobos have another week off before speaking again against Utah State at The Pit on Saturday.

The rust for both teams – Nevada had only played three games in December – was evident early on as both teams struggled to find a consistent offensive. Mashburn finished with a team high of 18 points and House had 17 points, but apart from Singleton, no other Lobo had more than five points.

This included just one free throw and three rebounds in 16 minutes from 7-foot newcomer Sebastian Forsling. Forsling’s job was to build an inside threat against Nevada’s equally large but more experienced low-post players on both ends of the floor.

Emmanuel Kuac got nine rebounds at team height for the Lobos, although he gave up a few centimeters on the post. He finished with three points and put in a 3-pointer from the tip of the wrench in the second half.

Pitino’s anger had less to do with the staff on the floor and more to do with the general game of his entire squad after a hard-fought first half in which the teams returned to the top of the table with solid performances from both teams.

“I kept telling them in the second half: ‘You know, and I know we can’t play like that. It’s impossible, ‘”said Pitino. “The crowd, we don’t play together. So I think it was a lack of belief and it just kept turning. “

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