JJ Caldwell told Stadium Sports late Sunday night that he intends to transfer away from the University of New Mexico.
Caldwell played in 13 games for the Lobos, averaging 5.8 points and 5.7 assists per game before missing the remainder of the season for an indefinite suspension for a battery charge that was later dropped.
The Galveston, TX, native posted a tweet last night, stating, “That was fun while it lasted.”
The University of New Mexico announced that fans will not be allowed admittance to all home games, events, and practices for the foreseeable future.
Per a release from the school:
“The University of New Mexico athletic department will follow the NCAA’s protocol for all home events and practices for the time being. All UNM home athletic events and practices will be conducted with essential personnel only, and limited family.No fans will be allowed at practices or games at this time. Media will still be able to attend practices and games, but interviews will be modified for safety concerns via recommended guidelines.”
In addition, the same rules apply to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held here in Albuquerque.
“At the direction of the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, the decision has been made to NOT allowed any spectators, including family, to attend the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships. The decision has been made to limit the attendance to 1/3 of the venue capacity and based on the number of coaches, participants and necessary personnel, we have that number.”
It didn’t take long for the Lobo (19-13) offense to erupt Wednesday night. After falling behind San Jose State (7-24) 8-4 in the opening minutes, the Lobos went on a 21-0 run and never looked back.
Redshirt-junior Vance Jackson led the charge for the Lobos with 26 points and 12 rebounds for this third double-double of the season. The trio of Jackson, Makuach Maluach (22), and Corey Manigault (18) combined to go 24-38 shooting on the night and accounted for 66 of the Lobos points in the 79-66 victory over the Spartans.
The Lobos also made the most of their trips to the charity stripe, shooting a perfect 14-14. Wednesday night’s win also marked the first time that the Lobos had out-rebounded an opponent since February 2nd against Wyoming.
With the win, the Lobos advanced to the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament, where they will take on No. 2 seed Utah State for the second time in six days. The meeting in The Pit on Saturday produced an unexpected upset when the Lobos defeated the Aggies 66-64. While that loss might have ended the Aggies’ hopes of making it to the big dance depending on where you look, there’s still hope for them if they make a deep run in the tournament.
A loss on Thursday, however, and they are likely looking at a trip to the NIT.
The Lobos meanwhile are holding out hope for another upset. Currently sitting on the outside looking in at any post-season tournament, another win over the Aggies could change that.
Despite losing the battle on the boards on Saturday, solid performances from the trio of Maluach, Jackson, and Manigault propelled the Lobos to that victory. While the three of them could be enough for the Lobos to pull the unexpected again, the team needs another big night from JaQuan Lyle. Lyle has been quiet the past two games, earning only 15 points between them.
This team has shown that there’s still fight in them, and they know how to beat this Utah State team.
Thursday’s Quarterfinal game between the Lobos and the Aggies is set for a 7 p.m. tip from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Fans not in attendance can watch the game live on the Mountain West Network.
In one of the earlier previews this season, it was said that anything could happen in the Mountain West Conference. Time after time, that adage has proven true for the Lobos (18-13, 7-11) this season. Most of those instances did not go in the team’s favor.
On Saturday night, however, Lady Luck was in the Lobos’ corner as they upset the visiting Utah State, 66-64. That unexpected win allowed the Lobos to secure the seventh seed in the Mountain West Conference Tournament this week.
As the No. 7 seed, the Lobos will first face off against No. 10 seed San Jose State University on Wednesday from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Historically, the Lobos haven’t fared well in first-round matchups with only a 1-3 record in those games. After the win on Saturday, there’s reason to believe that the Lobos will carry some momentum into the opening game. A Lobo win won’t come without a fight, though.
The Lobos and Spartans split the regular season, with each team taking a win on their home courts. The San Jose upended the then 13-2 Lobos, 88-85 in San Jose on New Year’s Day. Vance Jackson and JaQuan Lyle both had 25 points for the Lobos, but the defense faltered, allowing Richard Washington to covert seven shots from beyond the arc.
In the return game, though, it was a different story. Washington was a non-factor, as only one Spartan reached double-digit points in a 27 point blowout by UNM. That result may have been the more shocking of the two, given that the Lobos were without both Jackson and Lyle. Instead, the Lobos turned to Corey Manigault, who led all scorers with 21 points. Zane Martin (20), Makuach Maluach (15), and Keith McGee (10) all reached double digits, as the game was never really in doubt with the Lobos leading the entire way.
With a relatively intact lineup heading into the conference tournament, the Lobos are heavily favored in the first round and should come away with the win. The winner of Wednesday’s game will advance to take on No. 2 seed Utah State on Thursday night.
Wednesday’s game is set for a 3:30 p.m. (Mountain) tip. Fans not traveling to Las Vegas for the game can watch all of the action on the Mountain West Network.
Senior Night is supposed to be a celebration. After a tumultuous season that saw the Lobos (17-13, 6-11) fall from a 15-3 record to losing 10 of 12, the night may be bittersweet at best.
JaQuan Lyle and Corey Manigault, the only remaining seniors, have had respectable seasons, but it certainly hasn’t gone as expected. While they should be celebrated for the work they’ve put in, fans should have expected more from the team as a whole.
As it currently sits, the Mountain West is still wide open on the seeding for the conference tournament. For the Lobos, their best possible position would be 7th but could fall as low as 9th depending on outcomes around the league. Their opponent won’t make it easy.
Utah State (23-7, 12-5) and UNM are meeting for the first time this year, an oddity due to the nature of the 11 school conference. The Aggies have won 10 of their last 12, surging into second place. A win on Saturday night will likely lock them in as the 2nd seed for the conference tournament next week.
Guard Sam Merrill has been one of several standout players this year for the Aggies. Averaging 18.9 points per game, and shooting an incredible 41.3 percent from three-point range, Merrill is going to cause problems for the Lobos defensively. Paired with sophomore forward Justin Bean, 12.5 ppg and 10.4 rebounds, the Aggie offense has been nearly unstoppable.
The Lobos, on the other hand, are limping towards the end f the regular season.
What should have been a win against Air Force, slipped away late and left the Lobos craning their necks even further to see the top of the conference above them. The team’s performance in the second half of the regular season has called into question the commitment of the players and whether or not Paul Weir has control of the team.
With the injuries and suspensions sustained by the team this year, the individual numbers slipped from where they were earlier this year. Lyle has slid to a still respectable 15.3 points per game and is likely the team’s MVP this year.
It will take a near miracle for the Lobos to upset the Aggies, even with The Pit magic behind them. They will need to have a perfect game on defense and find a way to shut down Merrill to have a chance.
Saturday’s game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tipoff from The Pit. Fans not in attendance can watch the game live on CBS Sports Network.