What: Game Twenty
Who: NM State (7-12, 0-7 WAC) at Utah Tech (9-10, 1-5 WAC)
When: Saturday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m. MT
Where: St. George, Utah – Burns Arena (4,779)
THE OPENING TIP
• The start of league play has not gone according to plan for the Aggies as they have lost their first seven WAC contests by an average margin of 12.0 points after winning at least a share of four of the previous five WAC Regular Season titles.
• Until this season, NM State had only started with seven league losses in two other seasons (1954-55, 1945-46).
• Saturday, the Aggies will take the court at Burns Arena in search of its first league win against an opponent it has never lost to in program history when it collides with Utah Tech.
• The road contest also marks the second of three straight games in the state of Utah for the Aggies after taking on Southern Utah on Thursday and ahead of a matchup with Utah Valley one week from Saturday.
CHI CHI FOR THREE THREE
• Sophomore forward Marchelus Avery has seen his role expand in his second year with the program and has developed his game from beyond the arc after making just 10 three pointers last season.
• Avery has already more-than-doubled that amount this season as he has drained 23 three-pointers while shooting 44.2% from deep to rank first among Aggies with at least 10 attempts
• The Richmond, Va., native has only upped his ability to be a threat from three-point land during conference play as he is tied with Xavier Pinson as the team’s leader in made threes in WAC play with 14. Additionally, Avery is shooting a blistering 56% from downtown against league opponents.
PINSON NOT MISSIN’
• Xavier Pinson has been automatic from the charity stripe during conference play as he currently ranks fifth in the WAC in free throw percentage in conference play by way of making 23 of 25 across the Aggies’ first seven WAC contests.
• In his first season with NM State, Pinson has shot 86.7 percent from the free throw line to rank first among Aggies, second in the WAC and 49th in the nation.
• In four and a half years at the collegiate ranks, Pinson has scored 1,407 points – putting him just 93 points shy of reaching 1,424 for his career.
• As of now, Pinson would need to average just 6.9 points per game to reach this milestone during the regular season slate.
• Serving as the lone Aggie to have started in every game this season, Pinson paces the Aggies in scoring, notching 246 total points to average 12.9 points per game.
HISTORIC WAC DOMINANCE
• Amid its final season in the WAC, NM State has put together one of the most impressive runs in all of college basketball.
• Across 17-plus years, the Aggies have posted a 196-71 record against conference opponents.
• Additionally, the Aggies’ 10 WAC Tournament titles is the most in conference history with UTEP’s five tournament titles being the next closest.
• Deshawndre Washington and Xavier Pinson have been one of the most prolific backcourts in the country and are currently averaging a combined 8.3 assists per game.
• Both Pinson and Washington currently rank inside the top ten in the WAC in assists per game as Pinson’s 4.5 assist-per-game average is second-best in the conference and Washington’s average of 3.8 assists ranks seventh.
• The two guards who hail from Chicago, Ill., are also the only two Aggies to average double figures as Pinson leads the Aggies by scoring 12.9 points per game while Washington ranks second on the squad, posting 12.1 points per contest.
• Pinson and Washington are also the only two Aggies averaging more than 30 minutes of playing time under Greg Heiar this season.
• The Aggies’ current six-game losing streak marks the first time that NM State has lost seven consecutive games since 2010-11. This was also one of only two times that NM State dropped more than six games inside WAC play.
NO WALK IN THE PARK IN THE WAC
• For years, WAC Championships have run through Las Cruces and there appeared to be a gulf between NM State and the rest of the league, however, this season it looks as though the rest of the league has finally caught up.
• Currently, the WAC ranks 11th out of 32 Division I conferences in average NET ranking (161.54).
• Last season, the conference made a massive jump to finish with an average NET ranking of 194.0 to conclude the season ranked 15th out of 31 after finishing ranked 26th in 2020-21.
• Meanwhile, from the 2018-19 season to the 2021-22 season, the WAC posted a final average NET ranking of 212.22 with a final average ranking of 20.5.
Year Avg. NET Rank
2021-22 194.00 15th
2020-21 238.56 26th
2019-20 245.11 25th
2018-19 171.22 16th
NM STATE ON THIS DATE
• Across the history of the program, the Aggies
have played on the 21st of January a total of
27 times – boasting an overall record of 15-12, including a 3-2 mark in WAC play.
• Thursday will mark the Aggies’ 12th
away game on Jan. 21 with NM State posting a 5-6 record.
SCOUTING THE TRAILBLAZERS
• In his 18th year with the Trailblazers, Head Coach Jon Judkins will lead Utah Tech on Saturday against the Aggies.
• Since arriving in St. George, Judkins has helped usher the program’s rise from the junior college level to the Division I level.
• Last year, Utah Tech finished with an overall record of 13-18 while going 6-12 in its second season in the WAC.
• This season, the Trailblazers have accumulated just one win in league play – defeating UTRGV in their league opener on Dec. 29. Since then, Utah Tech is 0-5 against conference opponents while losing by an average of 13.4 points per game.
• Despite their losing record, the Trailblazers have been fairly successful at home – winning six of their first eight home tilts, although, three of those wins did come over non-DI programs.
• The Trailblazers’ leading scorer is senior guard Cameron Gooden who averages 15.6 points per game to rank seventh in the conference. This includes a 29-point effort at Utah St. earlier this season.
• The majority of the remainder of Utah Tech’s points will likely come from Isiah Pope and Tanner Christensen who also average double figures this season – averaging 12.6 and 10.4 points, respectively.