POSTED: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 2:05pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 10:42pm
The New Mexico State men's basketball team returns to Las Cruces to host Utah State, Thursday, Jan. 12 and Idaho, Saturday, Jan. 14 inside the Pan American Center in its WAC home opening weekend. Both games tip-off at 7 p.m. The Utah State game is shown live on AggieVision and broadcast across New Mexico on Comcast, Altitude2, KVIA 24/7 (Channel 7.3), ESPN Full Court and ESPN3. The Idaho contest is also available on AggieVision, Comcast, Altitude2, CW (Channel 7.2), ESPN Full Court, ESPN3 and shown on tape delay on Fox Sports-Arizona at 8:30 p.m. The games are available on KGRT 104 FM with the 'Voice of the Aggies' Jack Nixon, and the pregame show starts 30 minutes prior to tip. The contests are also available in Spanish on Vista 98 FM with Martin Cortez.
New Mexico State Aggies
The Aggies improved to 11-5 this season after opening the WAC season with an 83-73 win at Louisiana Tech, Jan. 7. NM State has two players in double figures with redshirt senior Wendell McKines leading the way with 18.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, and senior guard Hernst Laroche provides 11.5 points per game.
The matchup with Utah State is first responder's night. All police, fire and rescue men and women in uniform or with a valid ID will be able to purchase $5 upper level reserved seating. It is also a canned food drive game. Anyone who brings their canned food items, cereal or pasta will also be able to purchase $5 upper level reserved seating. For tickets, call the Pan Am ticket office at (575) 646-1420. Students are free with a valid NM State ID.
Scouting Utah State
The Navy-clad Aggies are 9-7 and 1-1 in the WAC following a 72-53 win over Fresno State, Jan. 5, and 78-71 loss to Nevada, Jan. 7. Utah State has three players with double-digit averages and redshirt sophomore guard Preston Medlin leads the way with 15.0 points per game. Senior guard Brockeith Pane adds 11.4 points per contest, while senior Morgan Grim supplies 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Utah State has a slight 35-27 lead in the all-time series after winning both games last season. NM State is 18-10 in games played in Las Cruces.
NM State suffered its first WAC loss at home of the 2011-12 season to No. 25/21 Utah State, 58-54, March 2, 2011. The Aggies had won a school-record 12 consecutive WAC home games dating back to the 2009-10 season. It was the first time the Aggies hosted a ranked team in the Pan American Center since the 2006-07 season. Forward Troy Gillenwater scored a game-high 17 points, and center Tshilidzi Nephawe recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Hernst Laroche added 10 points, while guard Gordo Castillo had nine. In the first half, Gillenwater joined the 1,000-point club at NM State with his second field goal of the game. He became the 27th member of the club.
The Vandals have an 8-8 overall record and 1-1 WAC record after splitting their first two conference games at home. Idaho fell to Nevada, 73-55, Jan. 5, but then defeated Fresno State, 63-59, Jan. 7. The Vandals travel to Louisiana Tech, Jan. 12. Idaho has a balanced offense with sophomore guard Stephen Madison posting a team-high 12.6 points per game. Senior guard Deremy Geiger contributes 12.3 points per game, while junior center Kyle Barone adds 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
The Aggies have a 19-3 advantage in the series with the Vandals. NM State has an 11-0 record in Las Cruces. Last season, the Aggies swept Idaho and, currently, have a four-game win streak in the series.