Chalk it up to nerves or fatigue, perhaps a giant chasm of talent discrepancy or maybe a lack of energy and execution. No matter how you slice it, Monday night's Mountain West Conference opener for the University of New Mexico men's basketball team was about as ugly as it gets.
The Lobos (3-1, 0-1) were completely taken apart in a 77-53 loss at Boise State inside the otherwise empty ExtraMile Arena. The Broncos (5-1, 1-0) used runs of 8-0 and 15-0 to blow open what had been a close game just five minutes into the second half.
The Lobos crept as close as 40-34 on a layup by Kurt Wegscheider but managed just one field goal over the next 10 minutes as Boise State pulled away. Poor shooting and sloppy play defined the game as UNM shot just 27 percent in the second half and finished the night with another bad performance at the free-throw line (10 of 19) and just about everywhere else.
Even rebounding, which served the team so well in three wins to open the season, was a disappointment. The Broncos held a 35-29 advantage on the glass after UNM doubled its opponents' output in last week's road swing through Houston.
Weir said Boise State's intensity on the glass was a factor. He also said his team's inexperience didn't help with the disjointed play.
"We've got a young group and they get the ball, it might be a loose ball or a play, and they just get excited and they throw something and it's not there," he said. "We've just to learn to be more patient offensively."
UNM's low-post interior game was overmatched as well. Starting big men Bayron Matos and Rod Brown combined for just six points and four rebounds, while Valdir Manuel had half a dozen points and two boards. It put the onus on the guards to make jump shots, and they didn't.
Poor shooting has plagued UNM. Lobos point guard Jeremiah Francis continued to be ice cold, missing all five of his shots. He is now 5-for-29 from the field and has missed 13 of his 14 attempts from 3-point range.
[The Lobos were scheduled to play Boise State again Wednesday (Dec. 23), after this edition went to press.]
Every team will visit five conference opponents in a two-game swing over three days, then host five different opponents in the same format at home.
Weir said the lack of practice and preparation for this week's games has hurt the Lobos. Days before a game, he said, should be devoted to going over the game plan instead of conducting full-speed workouts like they've been doing.
"At the same time, like I told the guys [Sunday] at practice, we're not at the point where we're doing walkthroughs and just getting ready for a game," he said. "We're way too far behind to do that."
Star power: Boise State's Derrick Alston Jr. is considered the league's top NBA prospect and he showed why Monday, scoring 20 points that included three ferocious dunks. He was one of four Broncos to finish in double figures.
Anybody want to shoot? Weir said the only Lobo not to look like a deer in the headlights is senior Makuach Maluach. He was the only player in double figures with 13 points. His 12 shots were double that of everyone else on the roster.
Fashion statement: We may have seen the last of the V-neck sweater. Weir has opted to wear a simple golf shirt for all four games this season, ditching the cherry (and sometimes gray) sweater he began wearing a few years ago.
The simple look, which some have playfully compared to a modern-day Mr. Rogers, became Weir's calling card in his first three seasons at UNM. He said last week he's going to make his wardrobe call a game-by-game thing and hasn't tossed the sweaters out of the rotation just yet.
Injury update: Guard Keith McGee left Monday's game with a twisted ankle. Weir didn't have much information on his status, saying they'd have to wait until Tuesday afternoon to see how McGee was feeling.