POSTED: Monday, January 6, 2014 - 8:25pm
UPDATED: Monday, January 6, 2014 - 8:32pm
Las Cruces, NM — The New Mexico State men’s basketball team (12-5, 1-0 WAC) opens the 2014 home conference season taking on Seattle U (8-6, 0-1 WAC) in the Pan American Center, Thursday, Jan. 9. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (MT). Fans can listen to the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. with the Hall of Famer ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon on KGRT 103.9 FM in Las Cruces. The game is also scheduled to be televised by AggieVision and fans should check with their local cable or satellite provider for show times.
The Aggies face Idaho, Saturday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. (MT) in the Pan American Center for another WAC game. The game will air on ROOT Sports and will also be available on the radio with Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play. NM State then heads out on the road facing Chicago State, Thursday, Jan. 16 and Kansas City, Saturday, Jan. 18. Both games will be aired on the radio on the Aggie Sports Network.
Fans and media can access post-game video interviews with head coach Marvin Menzies and selected players after each game on-line at www.NMStateSports.com  by clicking on the game recap.
About the Aggies
The Aggies started the 2014 Western Athletic Conference season with an 84-62 win at Grand Canyon University, Saturday, Jan. 4 in Phoenix. NM State is now 12-5 on the year and 1-0 in league play. The Aggies are also 6-1 when play in the Pan American Center this year, while going 5-3 on the road.
As a team, the Aggies are averaging 77.0 points per game, outscoring their opponents by an average of 9.1 points per game. NM State is shooting 48.2 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 69.6 percent from the free throw line. NM State is pulling down 37.4 rebounds a game, while recording 5.8 blocks, 4.9 steals and 12.9 assists a game. Six Aggies are shooting over 80 percent from the charity stripe.
Daniel Mullings leads the Aggies with 16.6 points per game, shooting 47.0 percent from the field. He also leads the Aggies in steals with 29. Sim Bhullar is shooting a team leading 67.0 percent from the floor and leads the team in blocks (53). Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is the team leader in rebounds with 121 (7.1/game) and junior K.C. Ross-Miller leads the squad with 65 assists after he posted a career-high 10 assists against South Alabama two weeks ago. He also leads the team at the free throw line shooting a team-best 90 percent at the free throw line. DK Eldridge continues to stay hot from behind the 3-point line making 44 percent of his attempts. Senior Renaldo Dixon is second on the team at the free throw line, knocking down 83.3 percent of his attempts, while he adds 16 blocks, and nine steals. He averages 6.1 points per game.
Aggies Against Seattle U
When the Seattle Redhawks and the NM State Aggies first met at the Pan American Center in 1970, the result ended with a win for the Aggies, 91-78. Since that time, the Aggies and the Redhawks have played against each other four other times with the Aggies obtaining a 3-1 overall record.
The last time the teams played was last season during the Lou Henson Classic at the Pan American Center where the Aggies beat the Redhawks 60-57. This season the two teams play again, once at the Pan American Center on Jan. 9, 2014 and again on Feb. 8, 2014 in Seattle, Wash.
Scouting the Redhawks
Seattle U comes into the week with an 8-6 overall record while it is 0-1 in Western Athletic Conference play after falling to Kansas City, 95-84, Saturday, Jan. 4. Deshaun Sunderhaus leads the Redhawks shooting 55.2 percent from the field while he ranks second in the WAC in field goal percentage. Isiah Umpig is the defensive leader on the team averaing 1.29 steals per game while he also runs the office and is second in the WAC with 4.14 assists per game.
NM State in Mid-Major Poll
In the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll (Jan. 6), the NM State men’s basketball team moved up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10. The Aggies had 473 points in the poll, while Wichita State is No. 1 in the poll. Aggie opponent, Gonzaga in No. 3 in the poll, Northern Colorado is No. 22 and Drake is No. 24.
Last Time Against Seattle U (game recap)
The New Mexico State men’s basketball team fought off Seattle for a 60-57 win for its 11th straight victory, Jan. 9, 2013.
In the Lou Henson Classic, sophomore guard Daniel Mullings had a game-high 18 points to lead the Aggies, and center Sim Bhullar recorded a near double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. (Former) Forward Bandja Sy added nine points, and forward Renaldo Dixon supplied eight.
The Aggie offense was held to 34 percent shooting for the game (16-of-47), but the defense stepped up and blocked eight shots. Bhullar led the effort with four, and he now ranks sixth on the single-season list at NM State. The Crimson and White also protected the ball and only committed nine turnovers despite Seattle’s full-court press.
The Aggies survived Seattle’s late game change. NM State had a five-point lead, 57-52, with 2:11 to play after Mullings hit a pair of free throws.
With 1:05 remaining, Seattle trimmed the Aggie lead to two, 59-57. NM State managed the clock and Bhullar was fouled on a put back. He hit the first of two free throws, and the Aggie defense held tough and Seattle missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
The Aggies had a 34-30 halftime lead. Mullings led all scorers with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Bhullar contributed 11 points and a pair of blocked shots.
NM State only shot 35.5 percent from the field (11-of-31) after the first 20 minutes of action. The Aggies had a nine-point lead, 31-22, on a three-point play from Bhullar with 6:59 remaining in the first half. The Aggie offense stalled and went without a field goal for over six minutes but maintained its lead.
In the second half, the shots didn’t fall early for the Aggies, and Seattle took advantage. The Redhawks posted their first lead of the game, 36-34, with 15:38 remaining.
Aggies in the WAC
NM State’s overall record of 12-5 is tops in the WAC. The Aggies are one of only two teams in the conference with a winning overall record (Seattle U at 8-6). NM State is 1-0 in WAC play after an 84-62 win versus Grand Canyon University on Saturday, Jan. 4, in Phoenix, Ariz.
The Aggies lead the conference in scoring offense (77.0 points/game), field goal percentage (48.2), scoring margin (+9.1), blocked shots (99) and blocked shots per game (5.82).
NM State’s defense also leads the WAC in opponent’s field goal percentage, holding opponents to 39.9 percent shooting, while standing in second in the WAC in scoring defense, allowing 67.9 points per game.
The Aggies are also second in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage (37.6), rebounding (37.4 rebounds/game) and rebound margin (+4.1) while placing third in free throw percentage (69.6) and assists per game (12.94).
Individually, sophomore center Sim Bhullar is the WAC overall leader in field goal percentage (67.0) and easily leads the conference in blocked shots (53) and blocked shots per game (3.31). No one else in the conference has over 20 blocked shots or is averaging over 1.40 blocked shots per game.
Bhullar also ranks third among WAC players in total rebounds per game (7.4) while placing fifth in defensive rebounds per game (4.81) and tied for second in offensive rebounds per game (2.56).
Fellow center Tshilidzi Nephawe is right behind Bhullar, placing third in the WAC in field goal percentage (53.4), fourth in total rebounds per game (7.1), seventh in blocked shots (14) and 10th in blocked shots per game (0.82). Nephawe is fourth in the conference in defensive rebounds per game (4.82) and sixth in offensive rebounds per game (2.29).
Sandwiched in between Bhullar and Nephawe in the blocked shots category is senior forward Renaldo Dixon whose 16 blocked shots place him in a tie for fourth most in the WAC while his 0.94 blocked shots per game average is sixth best.
Junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller leads the WAC in free throw percentage shooting at a 90 percent average (63-70). Ross-Miller is also tied for the conference lead in total assists with 65 helpers on the season. He is fourth in assists per game (3.82) and second in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (1.86).
NM State’s leading scorer, junior guard Daniel Mullings, is third in the WAC in scoring with a 16.6 points per game average. He is tied for the conference lead in steals with 29 and is third in the WAC with a 1.81 steals per game average. Mullings is also second in minutes played per game (33.19), fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.41), fifth in total assists (55) and sixth in assists per game (3.44).
Senior guard Kevin Aronis is tied for fourth in the WAC with 35 3-point field goals made and is sixth in the conference with a 2.06 3-pointers per game average. He also is seventh in the WAC in 3-point field goal percentage with a 41.2 percent average (35-85). Fellow guard DK Eldridge leads the Aggies in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc (22-50), good enough for fourth-best in the WAC.
Aggies at Home
NM State holds a 6-1 record at the Pan American Center this season. The Aggies only home loss came at the hands of I-25 rival New Mexico, 79-70, on Dec. 4. The loss snapped a 15-game home winning streak for NM State dating back to last season. The Lobos were also the only team to hand NM State a home loss during the 2012-13 season as the Aggies finished the season 15-1 at home and undefeated in WAC play inside the Pan Am. The last WAC opponent to defeat NM State at home was Nevada, which defeated the Aggies, 68-60, on Jan. 26, 2012.
Since the loss to New Mexico, NM State has won its last two home games, both in blowout fashion. The Aggies defeated Northern New Mexico, 97-47, on Dec. 21, and won over South Alabama, 82-64, on Dec. 28.
NM State is averaging 81.7 points per game at home while holding opponents to 63.1 points per game for a +18.6 scoring margin. The Aggies are shooting over 50 percent from the field at home (53.2) while holding opponents to 38 percent and outrebound their opponents by an average of seven rebounds per game (38.1 to 31.1).
Junior guards Daniel Mullings and DK Eldridge are averaging double-digit points for NM State inside the Pan Am. Mullings leads the team at home, averaging 18.3 points per game while Eldridge averages 12.4. A trio of Aggies is at the cusp of double-digit points at home. Junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe averages 9.7 points per game at home, fellow center Sim Bhullar averages 9.4 points per game and senior forward Renaldo Dixon is right behind averaging 9.3 points per game.
Mullings and Eldridge also lead NM State in minutes played at home with an average of 31.3 and 28.3 minutes respectively. Mullings is also shooting over 60 percent from the field at home (60.9), second only to Bhullar who is shooting 67.6 percent inside the Pan Am. Bhullar also leads the Aggies at home in rebounds (50), rebounds per game (7.1) and blocked shots (25). The 7-5 big man broke a school record with 10 blocked shots during the Aggies’ home matchup versus Prairie View A&M on Nov. 27. That same night the NM State team also broke the team blocked shots record, finishing with 14 total blocks.
Two Aggies have only missed one free throw at home en route to shooting over 90 percent from the free throw line. Dixon is shooting 95 percent from the free throw line after sinking 19-of-20 free throws inside the Pan Am. Junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller, meanwhile, is making 93.8 percent of his home free throws, going 15-of-16 in seven home games.