A couple of quick thoughts on last night's game before we burn the tape and move forward. We were surprised by the final margin, a 20-point win for the Lobos wasn't exactly what we thought would happen. Were we surprised that the Lobos shot the ball well? Not really. We said on Tuesday that we thought the Lobos were around a 42 percent shooting team, they shot 46 percent in the game (and they shot 43 percent on two-point shots). We're also apparently among the minority who is not surprised by the Lobos shooting the three ball well. If you read Tuesday's post we took note that the Lobos get 30 percent of their points from the three-ball, we also noted that the Aggies would need to hit eight to ten triples if they wanted to win the game. Guess what, if the Aggies had hit eight threes last night, they would have won the game by one point.
We're stunned at how many people were caught off guard by the Lobos three point shooting. First because of the numbers we gave you (30 percent of their points come from threes, three different Lobos shooting the three at a 40-percent-plus clip). But moreso than that, the Lobos have historically under Steve Alford, shot a lot of threes against the Aggies. In the previous nine meetings between the Aggies and Lobos leading up to last night's game, UNM had attempted 197 three pointers, an average of 21.9 threes per game. They had made 73 of those attempts, an average of 8.1 per contest. Just once, has UNM attempted fewer than 20 three point shots against the Aggies since Alford has been the head coach and that was earlier this season when they attempted 19. Only twice have they made fewer than eight three pointers against the Aggies in a game last season (5-of-21) and earlier this season (7-of-19). It's not a big surprise. Yes, they made 12 last night, however, you should have gone in expecting them to make at least eight. We figured they'd hit 10 on the night which was the basis for our "eight to ten" assessment for the Aggies.
Second, we're also stunned at how many people appear to have been caught off guard by the Aggies' poor performance last night from three point distance. It was something that we (referring to anyone who looked at the roster prior to the season tipping off) knew was going to be an issue all year long when the best two options were going to be your point guard and your power forward. Wendell and Hernst have combined to hit 41.8 percent of their attempts this season (36-of-86) but the rest of the team is just 28-of-107 which is a paltry 26 percent. The fact that the Aggies went 1-for-14 last night isn't a great surprise. This is not a good three point shooting team, particularly when your best three point shooters are the guy who is supposed to be on the block rebounding and getting offensive put-backs and the guy who is supposed to be setting up the offense.
As far as Coach Menzies' comments in the post game that the three point shooting was the difference in the game, we agree with him. If you look at the season averages for both teams, the Aggies hit 5.25 threes per game while the Lobos hit 7.25 per game. If the teams had hit their averages, the Aggies would have won 81-74 (not changing any other stat).
Non-conference play is almost over, the Aggies have two games left, one against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and one against Cal State-Bakersfield (a classic trap game that the Aggies need to be wary of). What matters now is winning as many games as possible in conference play, getting a high seed and winning three straight games in early March in Las Vegas.
On to today's links...
Aggie Men's Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News recaps the Aggies' loss.
Jason Groves blogs post-game quotes and his post-game thoughts.
Anthony Esparza of The Round Up recaps the Aggies' loss
Teddy Feinberg of the Las Cruces Sun-News blogs his thoughts on the game.
Bill Harty provides his recap of the game.
KRQE in Albuquerque recaps the game. (video)
The Sports Network recaps the game.
Richard Stevens of GoLobos.com recaps the loss.
Rick Wright of the Albuquerque Journal recaps the game (subscription required)
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