NMSU Men to take on Fresno State in WAC Tournament

Monday, March 5, 2012 - 6:31pm

The New Mexico State men's basketball team opens the 2012 WAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed and faces Fresno State, Thursday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m. in Las Vegas, Nev. The game is available on KGRT 104 FM with the 'Voice of the Aggies' Jack Nixon, and the pregame show starts 30 minutes prior to tip.

New Mexico State Aggies
The Aggies are 23-9 this season and finished 10-4 in WAC play. NM State ended the regular season with an 83-78 overtime win at Fresno State, March 3. The Aggies have three players in double figures with redshirt senior Wendell McKines leading the way with 18.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Senior guard Hernst Laroche provides 12.1 points per game, and senior center Hamidu Rahman adds 10.4 points per game.

WAC Tournament History
Since joining the WAC in 2005-06, the Aggies have an 11-4 record in the conference tournament. NM State has won two tournament titles in 2007 and 2010. This season, the Aggies claimed the No. 2 seed, which is the highest placement for NM State since the 2007 tournament. In head coach Marvin Menzies' tenure, the Aggies have played in the championship game twice, 2008 and 2010. NM State fell to Boise State in triple overtime, 107-102, March 15, 2008 in Las Cruces, and defeated Utah State, 69-63, March 13, 2010 in Reno, Nev.

Four Aggies Collect All-WAC Honors
Four NM State players earned All-WAC honors, which are voted on by the conference's eight head coach. Redshirt senior forward Wendell McKines was named to the first team, senior guard Hernst Laroche was a second team selection, senior center Hamidu Rahman earned an honorable mention nod, and freshman guard Daniel Mullings was a member of the all-newcomer team. This was the first WAC postseason award for Laroche, Rahman and Mullings and second for McKines, who was an honorable mention in 2010.

Aggies Successful in 2011-12
The Aggies' 23 wins are the most since the 2006-07 season. This is the third 20-win season under head coach Marvin Menzies and highest win total in his tenure.

McKines Named WAC Player of the Week
Redshirt senior forward Wendell McKines was named the Verizon WAC Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 27-March 4. The honor marks the second career WAC Player of the Week for McKines and third for the Aggies this year. McKines led the Aggies to a 1-1 road record last week. He pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds and scored 20 points in a come-from-behind win at Fresno State in overtime, March 3. The performance marked his 16th 20-point game of the season. He tied personal-best marks with four made 3-pointers, including three in the overtime period, and eight 3-point attempts. He also recorded his 18th double-double of the season and 45th of his career in the victory at Fresno State. At Nevada, March 1, McKines had a team-high 19 points and 13 rebounds. On the week, McKines averaged 19.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He hit 8-of-16 three-point field goals on the week.

Scouting Fresno State
The Bulldogs are 13-19 overall and are the No. 7 seed after a 3-11 WAC record. Sophomore guard Kevin Olekaibe is the leading scorer for the Bulldogs with 18.0 points per game, while senior guard Jonathan Wills adds 10.5 points per game.

Series Notes
The quarterfinal game is the first time the Aggies and Bulldogs have met in the WAC Tournament. The Aggies have a 24-13 series advantage after sweeping the Bulldogs in two closely contested games this season. NM State won at home, 60-56, Jan. 28 in Las Cruces, and earned its first victory in Fresno, Calif., since Jan. 3, 2009 with the 83-78 overtime win, March 3.

Previous Game
In the regular season finale, the Aggies overcame a 19-point second half deficit to defeat Fresno State, 83-78, in overtime, March 3. In the first overtime game of the year, junior forward Bandja Sy scored a career-high 22 points, with 20 in the second half. Redshirt senior forward Wendell McKines had 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season and 45th of his career. Junior forward Tyrone Watson added 11 points including a vital layup at the end of regulation.

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