#2 Aggies face #6 Bakersfield in WAC Tournament semifinals

#2 Aggies face #6 Bakersfield in WAC Tournament semifinals
New Mexico State
Friday, March 14, 2014 - 2:45pm

The No. 2 seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team takes on No. 7 seed Bakersfield, Friday, March 14 in the semifinals of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament at 9:30 p.m. (MT) in The Orleans Arena. The game is scheduled to air over the radio waves in Las Cruces with ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play action. A webcast will also be available online at www.WAC.tv for a fee and live stats are available free of charge at www.NMStateSports.com. In-game score updates are given on Twitter @NMStateAggies.

Looking Ahead
If the Aggies win their semifinal game, they will take on the winner between No. 1 Utah Valley and No. 5 seed Idaho, Saturday, at 8 p.m. (MT) in the Orleans Arena for the WAC Tournament Championship. The championship game will be televised on ESPNU. All games will be aired on the Aggie Sports Network with coverage in Alamogordo (107.1 FM), Albuquerque (101.7 FM), Artesia (990 AM) and Carlsbad (1240 AM).

Post-Game Interviews
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
NM State finished with a 23-9 overall record during the regular season and head into the WAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed after finishing league play at 12-4. The Aggies were just behind Utah Valley, who is the No. 1 seed after winning the WAC regular season title.

The Aggies finished the regular season winning two straight and won eight of their last 10 games. The two losses during that stretch came at the hands of Idaho (Feb. 6) and Utah Valley (Feb. 27) both on the road. NM State fell by six points to Idaho and to Utah Valley in overtime by five.

NM State put together three winning streaks of four or more wins, including two seven-game win streaks. The first win streak (7 games) started with a win over Tennessee State on Nov. 9, 2013 and ended when NM State was defeated 85-83 at Colorado State on Nov. 30, 2013. The second win streak (7 games) began when the Aggies defeated Drake 81-69 in overtime, Dec. 14, 2013 and ended when they lost to Chicago State, 86-81 on the road. The final streak was a four game win streak with wins over Seattle (Feb. 8), Kansas City (Feb. 13), Chicago State (Feb. 15) and UTPA (Feb. 20).

NM State is averaging 77.5 points per game this season while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. They are shooting well from behind the three-point arc as well, hitting 37.0 percent of their three point attempts. The NM State defense is holding its opponents to 40.1 percent from the field and out-rebounding opponents by an average of 37.5 per game to 32.7 per game (+4.8 rebounding margin).

Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads all scorers on the squad with 16.6 points per game and is also the defensive leader on the team with 59 steals on the season. Mullings is also second in the WAC in steals per game with 1.97 per game. He also has 111 assists on the year and is top ten in the league in that category.

Sophomore center Sim Bhullar returned to the court Thursday, Jan. 30, after missing six straight games due to a foot injury, leads the team and the WAC in blocked shots with 96 blocks on the year. Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is tied with Bhullar as the team leaders in rebounds with 7.8 rebounds per game. Nephawe is second on the team and the WAC in blocked shots with 51, which includes a career high six blocks against Idaho, Jan. 11.

Senior Guard Kevin Aronis leads the Aggies in three-point shooting percentage hitting 43.7 percent of shots beyond the arc and is No. 5 in the WAC in three pointers per game with 2.19 a contest.

Senior forward/center Renaldo Dixon made 11 consecutive starts, which ended on Feb. 15, against Chicago State and is averaging 25.2 minutes per competition. He is posting 8.6 points per game and grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game.

Looking Back
Sophomore center Sim Bhullar posted his fourth straight double-double as the No. 2 seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team defeated the No. 7 seeded Seattle U Redhawks 70-68 in the Orleans Arena, Thursday, March 13.

Bhullar scored a team-high and season-high 24 points while pulling down a game-high 14 boards while adding five blocks and three assists. Junior guard DK Eldridge added 19 points going 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc, 4-of-4 from the charity stripe and 6-of-9 from the field (67 percent). The Aggies as a team hit and astounding 25-of-29 free throw shots (86.2 percent) with junior guard Daniel Mullings hitting 6-of-6 and senior forward Renaldo Dixon draining 4-of-4 free throw shots. The team hit 14-of-15 free throws in the first half.

The Aggies scored 96 and 92 points in previous two games against Seattle U, but 16 NM State turnovers caused the Aggies to score on 70 points in the quarterfinal game of the tournament. The Aggies out-rebounded Seattle U 38-34 and blocked eight Redhawk shots.

Series History versus Bakersfield
NM State has faced Bakersfield five times over the years, with their first match being played on Dec. 7, 1985, with the Aggies winning 88-64. The Aggies are 5-0 versus the Roadrunners, with their last win coming March 1, 72-57.

In their last meeting, Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe both scored double-doubles, with Nephawe scoring a game high 15 points and a career high 16 rebounds. Freshman guard Travon Landry also had a career high 29 minutes played in the contest, scoring 12 points.

The Aggies have six players averaging double digits in scoring against the Roadrunners, with Daniel Mullings leading the way averaging 16.5 a game. Sim Bhullar has 26 points in their two meetings, along with 10 blocks and 17 rebounds. Nephawe averages a double-double, with 15 points a game and 12.5 rebounds.

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