Led by Ivan Aurrecoechea and Eli Chuha, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team gets back on the win column Monday night with a 74-62 victory over Northern Colorado in the opening game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic in the Pan American Center.
The first-half started with both teams exchanging buckets, but it didn’t take long before a 12-3 run by the Aggies (8-2) had them leading 20-8 right after the 11:26 media break on a bucket from Chuha in the paint.
Eight turnovers by NM State within a 5:39 span saw Northern Colorado (6-3) cut the lead down to 20-16 with 7:31 left in the first half. However, a 21-8 offensive blitz by the Aggies led by Chuha’s 10 points and Aurrecoechea’s nine points had New Mexico State take a 41-24 lead into the break.
The Aggies shot a blistering .621 clip from the field in the first stanza and turned eight offensive boards into a 15-4 edge in second-chance points while dominating the paint against Northern Colorado 28-10.
Both teams started the second-half exchanging short spurts, but six-straight points from Aurrecoechea saw the Aggies hold a 55-44 lead at the 10:55 media break.
A corner three from Northern Colorado’s Jonah Radebaugh cut the NM State lead to 59-51 at the 7:53 mark. However, a lob from AJ Harris to Chuha brought the lead back up to 61-51 before another bucket from the Bears forced an NM State timeout with 7:05 left in the game.
Aurrecoechea sparked another quick scoring run for the Aggies with back-to-back buckets, including an and-1 that pushed the lead to 69-57 with 5:42 left to play.
Northern Colorado got within eight twice more, once at the final media break with 3:57 on the clock and then again immediately out of the break before free-throws solidified the 74-62 win.
NM State was led by Aurrecoechea’s second double-double of the season as the Spaniard poured in 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go with 10 boards and a pair of assists. Meanwhile, Chuha finished the night with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Jabari Rice chipped in with eight points and four rebounds of his own as well for the Aggies.
Trevelin Queen made his Aggie debut Monday night after being cleared by the NCAA…NM State shot a .621 clip from the field, its first time shooting over 60-percent since hitting 62-percent from the field against Nicholls State on Nov. 22, 2016…Aggie bench outscored Northern Colorado 40-10…NM State converted 13 offensive boards into a 20-7 edge in second-chance points…the 18 points was a new season-high for Chuha while Aurrecoechea was one rebound shy of his season-high…the 19 turnovers Monday night was a season-high for the Aggies.