NMSU to face #1 Arizona Wednesday night
Las Cruces, NM — The New Mexico State men’s basketball team (7-4) continues its four-game, 10-day road swing as it heads to Tucson, Ariz., to face No. 1 Arizona (9-0), in the McKale Center, Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. (MT) with television coverage on the PAC-12 Network and radio on the Aggie Sports Network. Fans in Las Cruces can listen to the ‘Voice of the Aggies,’ Jack Nixon on KGRT 103.9 FM. Live stats are available online at www.NMStateSports.com under the live events link and in-game updates will be given on Twitter @NMStateAggies.
The Aggies continue their run of four-consecutive road games with a trip to Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday, Dec. 14, to face Drake. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. (MT) start. The Bulldogs are 6-2 on the season and are coming off an 83-66 loss to No. 23 Iowa on Saturday (Dec. 7).
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
Currently, the Aggies are 7-4 on the season, having dropped its last three games. On the road, NM State is 2-2 overall, while holding a 4-1 record while playing in the Pan American Center. During the Aggies’ three game skid, rebounding has been a spot to look at. NM State is -7.7 in rebound margin during its last three games, while during their seven game winning streak held a +8.6 rebound margin.
As a team, the Aggies are averaging 77.3 points per game, outscoring their opponents by 6.6 points per game. NM State is shooting 47.7 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 69.5 percent from the free throw line. On the boards, NM State is pulling down 37.8 rebounds a game, while recording six blocks, 4.6 steals and 12.4 assists a game. Four Aggies are shooting over 80 percent from the charity stripe.
Daniel Mullings leads the Aggies with 17.6 points per game, shooting 49.3 percent from the field. He also leads the Aggies in steals with 17. Sim Bhullar is shooting a team leading 70.9 percent from the floor, while also leading the team in rebounds (79) and blocks (37). K.C. Ross-Miller leads the squad with 40 assists, while shooting 85.1 percent at the free throw line. DK Eldridge is hot from the 3-point line, making 47.2 percent of his attempts, while Renaldo Dixon is the team leader from the free throw line, knocking down 87 percent of his attempts.
Aggies versus Arizona
The Aggies are 40-60 all-time record against Arizona. They first met on Feb. 2, 1917 in Las Cruces where Arizona won 34-21. NM State beat Arizona for the first time on Feb. 15, 1919 in Las Cruces, 42-14. Arizona defeated the Aggies 83-57, Nov. 18. 2010 and 83-76 on Nov. 29, 2011 in Las Cruces.
NM State is 12-34 when playing on the road against the Wildcats and 0-1 when facing them on a neutral court.
The last win over Arizona was on Dec. 13, 1971 when the Aggies won 89-73 at home.
Aggies versus Ranked Teams
The Aggies are now 3-21 all-time against ranked opponents.
The Aggies took on UCLA, who was ranked No. 1 on March 3, 1969 in the NCAA Tournament losing 53-38. NM State faced the Bruins in the Final Four on March 18, 1970 as the Bruins were the No. 1 team in the nation again. NM State also faced UNLV twice during the 1991-92. The Aggies lost to the No. 1 Rebels 74-67 and 69-58 that year.
Before playing Gonzaga, who was ranked No. 19 last past week, Saint Louis was the previous ranked opponent the Aggies faced. NM State fell to the Billikens 64-44 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
The last time NM State defeated a ranked team was on Jan. 20, 2007 in Las Cruces when the Aggies defeated No. 13/15 Nevada, 80-73 in front of 12,482 fans. Former Aggie Justin Hawkins led NM State that day with 29 points and 11 rebounds.
One of the three Aggie wins over a ranked opponent came on Jan. 10, 1980 when the Aggies defeated Larry Bird and No. 9 Indiana State 83-80 in overtime in the Pan American Center.
During the 1998-99 season, NM State faced four ranked opponents including Arkansas (No. 19), Washington (No. 25), New Mexico two times (No. 15 & No. 12) and Kentucky (No. 8). The Aggies defeated the Lobos that season on Jan. 19, 1999 when they were ranked No. 12.
Arizona comes in to Wednesday night’s game as the No. 1 team in the country. The Wildcats are a perfect 9-0 on the season, including a win over then No. 6 Duke (Nov. 29) during the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Arizona averages 77.8 points per game while holding its opponents to a Pac-12 leading 59.1 points per game. The Wildcats high scoring average is aided by a 50 percent shooting percentage from the floor and a 37.6 percentage from three-point range. Arizona also leads the conference in rebounding, averaging 41.9 rebounds per game while holding its opponents to 27.8 rebounds per game.
The Wildcats are led by two of the best players in the country. Junior guard Nick Johnson leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per game. Johnson has a 49.5 shooting percentage from the field and shoots 35.6 percent from beyond the arc, including a team-high 16 threes made. Johnson was named the Pac 12 Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 25-Dec. 1 after leading Arizona to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship and being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
The Wildcats also have one of the top-rated freshmen in the nation. Forward Aaron Gordon was one of the most highly-touted seniors coming out of high school and has lived up to the expectations, nearly averaging a double-double on the season. Gordon is tied for second on the team in scoring at 12 points per game while leading the team with a nine rebounds per game average. The 6-9 versatile big man shoots 47.7 percent from the field but is also a threat from the outside, sinking six of his 13 three-point attempts for a team-leading 46.2 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Sophomore forward Brandon Ashley also averages 12 points per game for Arizona and leads the team by shooting 60 percent from the field.
The Wildcats are coming off two home wins during last week’s schedule. Arizona easily handled Texas Tech, 79-58, on Tuesday (Dec. 3) before holding on for a victory over UNLV, 63-58, on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 7).
Arizona trailed the Runnin’ Rebels at the half, 42-39, but only allowed 16 UNLV points in the second half en route to escaping with the win. Ashley and junior guard T.J. McConnell each finished with 13 points to lead the Wildcats over the Runnin’ Rebels. Johnson and sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski added 12 points apiece. Gordon and Tarczewski led the team with eight rebounds each.