3 takes on Wyoming’s 52-49 OT loss at New Mexico

My three takes from Wyoming’s 52-49 overtime loss at New Mexico Saturday night to end the regular season.

1. Good defense or bad offense?: A combination of both. The two teams missed a combined 67 shots. There were missed dunks, missed chances on the fast-break — just about any missed shot you can imagine occurred in this game. For UW, it was good to see it play good defense, but the missed shots were too much to overcome the good defense. The 15 make baskets the Cowboys made tied a season-low, as did the 14 first-half points. When your two leading scorers — senior forward Larry Nance Jr. and junior guard Josh Adams — go a combined 8 of 30 from the field, UW won’t win many games.

Here is UW coach Larry Shyatt after the game:


2. Shot selection: As you heard Shyatt say in his postgame interview, he liked the fact that Nance took a 3 late in overtime that would have won the game for UW in the final seconds. Not sure if having a guy like Nance, who is 10 of 32 this season from 3-point range should be taking that shot. New Mexico keyed on senior guard Riley Grabau, who made three 3s in the second half and missed a shot at the buzzer in regulation that would have won the game. Even though Adams was 1 of 11 in the game and 0 of 2 from 3, wouldn’t he have been a better option?

Here is Nance on that after the game:


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UW at New Mexico men’s hoops: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming’s regular-season finale today at New Mexico. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. MT at WisePies Arena, aka, the Pit in Albuquerque.

Hugh Greenwood

Hugh Greenwood

1. Defend Greenwood: New Mexico senior guard Hugh Greenwood leads the Mountain West with 66 made 3-pointers, and he made five in UW’s 63-62 overtime win in Laramie in January. Perimeter defense has been an issue for the Cowboys, but they were better in Wednesday’s 76-53 win over Utah State as the Aggies shot just 6 of 18 from behind the arc. No one else on the Lobos roster that will play today has made more than 16 3s. UW needs to defend well against everyone on the perimeter, but especially on Greenwood.

“We can’t let New Mexico’s crowd and emotion take over because that will be tough to overcome,” senior forward Larry Nance Jr. said.

If Greenwood gets hot — or any of New Mexico’s players — that can easily happen.

Charles Hankerson Jr.

Charles Hankerson Jr.

2. Lobos have some size: New Mexico’s starting lineup will go 6-foot-3, 6-4, 6-5, 6-7 and 7-1. It also will bring a 6-10 center off the bench. Bigger teams, especially in the backcourt has given UW fits this season. UW  needs defend 6-5 senior guard Deshawn Delaney well. He leads the team with 12.1 points per game. Look for senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. and redshirt sophomore Jason McManamen to see a lot of time on Delaney when UW plays man-to-man defense. The Cowboys will need to do a good job of getting out in transition and attacking the basket when they can, and also moving the ball around well in their half-court offense. And obviously, UW will have to hold its own on the boards and not allow a lot of second and third-chance opportunities from the Lobos.

One player that has played better for New Mexico inside is 7-1 sophomore center Obij Aget, who over his last four games has averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots and has shot 50 percent from the field.

Here is my video preview of the game:


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UW-New Mexico men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Geoff Grammer, who covers New Mexico men’s basketball for the Albuquerque Journal, on Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off is at 2 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @GeoffGrammer

After losing so much production from last year’s team, how is this New Mexico squad different than ones from the last few seasons?

Not only did the Lobos lose their top three scorers from last season, they lost last year’s fourth leading scorer (Cullen Neal) to a season-ending ankle injury in the third game of this

Geoff Grammer

Geoff Grammer

season. So while the team knew it was going to be a rebuilding season, though it never would use that term, it wasn’t prepared for just how bad it got early in the season. The big difference in this and past New Mexico teams is the overall athleticism and length on this roster is better than in the past. That has allowed the Lobos to use far more zone defenses than they have in many years (they’ve been predominantly man-to-man defense in the previous seven seasons on the Steve Alford/Craig Neal era). That zone defense is the reason they are still in the title race in the Mountain West. They are one of only two Division I teams remaining in the country to have not allowed 70 points in a game (though they’ve allowed 69 now in back-to-back games). This is a defense first team now that keeps them in games when their often average offense struggles.

The season-ending ankle injury to guard Cullen Neal was tough, but who has stepped up scoring-wise for this team in his absence?

The two leading scorers for the Lobos are seniors Hugh Greenwood and Deshawn Delaney, last season’s No. 5 and No. 6 scorers. Greenwood can be a great shooter when set up well by teammates, but has struggled mightily to create his own shot. With very little help on offense at times, he’s resorted to forcing a ton of shots this season, often contested and often off balance, leading to an abysmal shooting percentage. But when getting help and on his game, he’s dangerous and has already had a pair of Mountain West games with six 3-pointers. Delaney is a slasher who is good when attacking the rim and not settling for jumpers. Maybe more to the point of the question, though, is that everyone on the roster has helped in the scoring department from time to time. New Mexico uses 11 players in its regular rotation and have had multiple games this season with 11 players showing up on the scoreline of the stat sheet.

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UW-New Mexico men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Geoff Grammer, who covers New Mexico men’s basketball for the Albuquerque Journal about Wednesday’s 9:05 p.m. game with the University of Wyoming at The Pit in Albuquerque. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Follow on Twitter: @GeoffGrammer

How is the shin injury for junior post Alex Kirk coming along and how much do you anticipate him playing against Wyoming?

He played 19 minutes Saturday against San Jose State in his first game back from the injury and all signs after the game were there are no lingering issues. He felt good so I’d expect his minutes to be more along the lines of 25-28 against Wyoming with him settling in down the home stretch at about 32 minutes a game.

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UW-New Mexico postgame thoughts

Three has not been kind to the Wyoming men’s basketball team.

For the second straight Mountain West game, UW lost by three points. This time it was 72-69 in overtime to New Mexico at the Arena-Auditorium.

First the bad news for the Cowboys:

They missed four free throws in overtime — two each by senior guard Nathan Sobey and sophomore guard Josh Adams. They also were outrebounded 14-5 on the offensive glass and outscored 12-4 in second-chance points.

But without Sobey and Adams, UW doesn’t take this game into overtime. Sobey had a season-high 16 points. He looked good driving to the basket and running the floor. Adams had 12 points, but his defense on New Mexico senior guard Kendall Williams, the reigning MW Player of the Year, was outstanding. Williams, who averages 18.8 points per game, had just 10 on 4 of 16 shooting. He also averages 5.3 assists, and had only two.

Here is some second half video highlights in regulation, including Williams’ last-second shot that doesn’t come close.

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