UNM Basketball: Lobos close out 2019 against UC Davis

It’s been a tumultuous week for the Lobos (12-2, 2-0) to say the least. After the announcement by UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nunez of the indefinite suspensions of Carlton Bragg and JJ Caldwell, two integral members of the team, UNM struggled early to find their rhythm against Houston Baptist. 

Without the duo, the Lobos trailed at halftime to the winless Huskies, but strong performances from the rest of the squad allowed UNM to break the century mark for the first time this season, and sixth time breaking 90 points. The second half against HBU saw the Lobos drop 61 points on the Huskies. 

While the reasons for their suspensions weren’t immediately made clear, later reporting from the Albuquerque Journal’s Geoff Grammar disclosed that Caldwell is under investigation for accusations of battery. Bragg’s reason for suspension has not been acknowledged by the program, but it has been made clear that it is not related to Caldwell’s.

This isn’t the first time that the Lobos have dealt with a suspension, but having to manage two suspensions forces Paul Weir’s team into a situation no one was prepared for. Replacing two starters for the foreseeable future does open up opportunities for guys who could be starters at many other schools. 

That depth was beneficial against HBU, eight players saw double-digit minutes, and with conference play resuming on the first of the year the Lobos will be tested, both in physicality and depth. One of the biggest questions facing Weir’s team is who will rebound the ball? 

Corey Manigault and Zane Martin stepped in to provide a combined 40 points and 8 rebounds against the Huskies. The 6’9″ forward, Manigault, will likely be the one to try and fill the void from Bragg’s absence. Even with the suspensions, it comes as no surprise that the Lobos are heavy favorites against UC Davis (5-9, 0-0).  

The Aggies come into Dreamstyle Arena this weekend on the heels of a 93-84 loss to San Francisco. Despite the loss, the Aggies have won three of five and are looking more composed at both ends of the court. The results from this UC Davis team is somewhat unexpected. This is a team that won the Big West two years ago but struggled with injuries last season. Even with several returning starters, they haven’t completely found their rhythm yet. 

Against a short-handed Lobo team, the Aggies may feel they have the license to play freer and shoot the deep ball. The deep ball is something that UC Davis has been known for in the past and this season the Lobos are allowing opponents to convert 31.7% of their shots from beyond the arc. 

Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m.(Mountain) from Dreamstyle Arena. Sunday’s game will be available to watch live on the Mountain West Network (TheMW.com/watch).