NMSU men to play for WAC title

NMSU men to play for WAC title
New Mexico State
Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 10:56am

The No. 2 seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team takes on No. 5 seed Idaho, Saturday, March 15 in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship at 8 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 and will also air on ESPNU. 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 the championship game, they will look forward to the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday, March 16 at 4 p.m. (MT) with television coverage on CBS.  The NCAA selects 68 teams for the tournament, including an automatic bid given to the winner of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. If the Aggies win the championship game and move on to the NCAA Tournament, any games played in the NCAA Tournament will 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 are the No. 2 seed heading into the WAC Tournament Championship.  The Aggies earned 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, although UVU lost to Idaho in the semifinals on Friday, March 14.

The Aggies finished the regular season winning two straight and won eight of their last 10 games regular season 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, who is currently on a four-game winning streak, put together three winning streaks of four or more wins, including two seven-game win streaks, during the regular season. 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 77.2 points per game this season while shooting 48.9 percent from the field.  They are shooting well from behind the three-point arc as well, hitting 37.1 percent of their three point attempts.  The NM State defense is holding its opponents to 40.2 percent from the field and out-rebounding opponents by an average of 37.3 per game to 32.6 per game (+4.8 rebounding margin).

Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads all scorers on the squad with 16.7 points per game and is also the defensive leader on the team with 62 steals on the season.  Mullings is also second in the WAC in steals per game with 1.98 per game.  He also has 115 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 98 blocks on the year. 

Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is the team leader in rebounds with 7.9 per game and Bhullar is right behind him with 7.8 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 39.7 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 25.0 minutes per competition.  He is posting 8.5 points per game and grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game.

Looking Back
Junior guard Daniel Mullings scored 20-plus points for the ninth time this season leading No. 2 seeded New Mexico State to a 69-63 win over No. 6 Bakersfield in the semifinals of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Friday, March 15 in the Orleans Arena.

Mullings scored 21 points going 9-for-16 from the field while coming up with three steals to help NM State move on to the WAC Tournament title game Saturday, March 15 at 8 p.m. (MT) with television coverage on ESPNU.  Junior guard DK Eldridge added 17 points, which was the fourth time he scored at least 17 points in a game this season.

The Aggies finished the night hitting 25-of-47 shots (53.2 %) and making 14-of-21 free throws.  The NM State defense came up with four blocks and six steals and forced the Roadrunners to toss up nine turnovers.

NM State in WAC Tournament Championship Games
The Aggies are 4-1 all-time in WAC Tournament Championship games.
3/16/13…UT Arlington…W…64-55
3/10/12…Louisiana Tech…W…82-57
3/13/10…Utah State…W…69-63
3/15/08…Boise State…L (3OT)…107-102
3/10/07…Utah State…W…72-70 (under Reggie Theus)


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