Desmond Cambridge Jr. scored 24 points, and Zane Meeks added a game-high ten rebounds as the Nevada Wolf Pack beat the University of New Mexico Lobos 68-54 in Lubbock, Texas on New Year’s Eve.
Although the Lobos enjoyed a plus-4 margin in free throw attempts and a plus-8 advantage in offensive rebounds, they shot just 31% from the floor as a team and a shocking 42.9% from the free-throw line.
It isn’t easy to win a game when your team makes just 43% of their charity line attempts. It is near impossible when you also barely make over 30% of your shots from the floor and only three of 14 three-pointers.
Senior Makuach Maluach led the Lobos again with 15 points on 6-14 shooting from the floor, including two of the team’s three made baskets from behind the arc. The 6-5 guard leads the team in both scoring (15.2) and rebounds (6.7) per game. Only junior forward Rod Brown is averaging over ten points per game over the first six games of the season.
Outside of Maluach, the Lobos lack a true scoring threat to keep defenses honest. As a team, they rank 234th in the nation in field goal percentage (42.19%), and only Coppin St. and UNC Asheville are worse at making free throws.
The team lacks a true center to control the paint, and they are just as bad shooting from outside as the No. 295th- ranked team in three-point shooting percentage (27.78).
Add in the fact that they have been forced to practice and play their games in Lubbock, Texas, instead of the Pit, and you have a recipe for a team that is 0-3 in Mountain West Conference play. COVID-19 health restrictions in Albuquerque have forced UNM to relocate to Lubbock, making an already challenging season for a young Lobo roster even more difficult.
On a positive note, the Lobos did lead for 11 minutes and 35 seconds of the game and looked poised to keep the game close as the Wolf Pack missed all ten of their three-point attempts in the first half.
But the positive vibes did not last long, as UNM continued to clang shots off the iron and fail to take advantage of free throws while the Wolf Pack eventually built up a 20-point advantage when Grant Sherfield made a three-point basket with 10:11 left in the game.
The Lobos would cut the Nevada lead to 11 with 1:32 left in the game on a layup by Saquan Singleton, but they would
When asked what he sees as the biggest problem facing his team head coach Paul Weir said it is a combination of both mental and physical issues.
“We got some young, nervous guys out there at times, and also physical. We have got to get more shots to go in at times, somehow, some way.”
“We’ve got to get creative to give them more of an opportunity physically, and mentally, we got to get them to relax. These kids put so much pressure on themselves to try and be great and be the best they can be, and I think it can just be too much sometimes, especially at the free throw line,” continued Weir in his post-game interview.
The young Lobos will get another chance to relax and play within themselves when they “host” the Wolf Pack again at Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University on Saturday Night.