The New Mexico State men’s basketball team came together in the second-half and outscored Utah Valley 50-39 for the 83-78 come from behind win Saturday night at the UCCU Center and snapped the UVU’s 22-game home win-streak in front of 4,521 fans – including a contingent of Aggie fans.
With both teams exchanging baskets to start the game, UVU continued its hot-streak from the floor out of the first media break and went on a 13-0 run for the 22-10 lead – which forced head coach Chris Jans to call a timeout with 12:41 left in the first half.
However, NM State (15-4, 4-1 WAC) didn’t back down and went on an 8-0 run of its own out of that timeout and brought it within 22-18 of the Wolverines with 10:21 on the clock after Terrell Brown scored four-straight points.
Utah Valley (13-7, 2-3 WAC)) added some cushion on its lead but four-straight free-throws from Johnny McCants and Eli Chuha made it 28-27. The Wolverines pushed its lead back up to 38-27 before NM State cut the lead to 39-33 heading into the break.
Despite the Aggies shooting 40-percent from the field (10-of-25), Utah Valley was quite comfortable on its home floor and was 12-of-19 (63.2%) from the field to hold the lead.
NM State came out of the gates in the second-half with a different mentality and outscored the Wolverines 15-9 heading into the first media break to tie things up 48-48.
Chuha was dominant in the post for the Aggies in the paint, scoring 11 of his season-high 20 points in the second-half in addition to his 11 boards. The redshirt senior finished with 20 points and tied his career-high in rebounds with 14 for his fifth double-double on the year.
AJ Harris was a huge cog in NM State’s resurgence in the second-half as well, hitting a straight-away 3-pointer for the 72-69 lead with 2:54 remaining in the game. With the 74-70 lead and 1:51 left to play, JoJo Zamora came through for New Mexico State with what arguably could’ve been the dagger for UVU with a corner 3-ball by the Aggie bench and pushed it to 77-70.
The Wolverines did their best to claw back, but it was too little too late as NM State went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final 26 seconds to ice the game.
Chuha, Harris, Brown and Zamora combined for 46 of NM State’s 50 points in the second-half while also going 19-of-22 from the free-throw line – not something the Aggies have been struggling with all season.
Brown finished with 19 points and five boards in addition to 18 points and five assists from Harris while Zamora chipped in with 13 points.
BY THE NUMBERS
NM State outscored UVU 22-12 in points off turnovers while converting nine offensive boards into a 12-1 edge in second-chance points…the Aggies finished the night 29-of-35 from the line, just second tie this season they have hit 25-plus from the charity stripe and just the fifth time they’ve hit 20-plus from the line in a single-game…the 28 rebounds Saturday night is the second lowest total for NM State this season behind the 26 against Washington State at home on Dec. 1.
New Mexico State will get a couple extra days this upcoming week before heading to the Lone Star State to take UT Rio Grande Valley at 6 p.m. (MT) on Saturday, Jan. 26.