Aggies seek outright WAC title with win over UMKC

Sports

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team hits the road for its final road trip of the regular-season this week and looks to secure the Western Athletic Conference Regular-Season Championship outright as it travels to Kansas City and Chicago State.

 

Neil Harwell will have the call alongside Michael Watson on the broadcast between the Aggies and Roos on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m. (MT) onESPN+. Two days, NM State will head north to the Windy City for a 1 p.m. (MT) contest against Chicago State on theWAC Digital Network.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

Aggie fans can catch the UMKC game onESPN+ with a paid subscription ($4.99/month) or start a 7-day FREE trial. With a paid or trial subscription, fans can watch it online or through any mobile device, tablet or through a third-party unit such as Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Playstation 4, Xbox One etc.

 

GET CONNECTED

Get up to the minute information and news about the NM State men’s basketball team all season long onTwitter and Instagram by following @NMStateMBB and on Facebook at FB.com/NMStateMBB.

 

LISTEN UP!

Aggie fans that can’t make it to Thursday or Saturday’s contests can catch the game by listening to NM State Athletics/US Bank Hall of Famer Jack Nixon on 99.5 Zia Country and affiliate stations on the Aggie Sports Network listed below or via TuneIn.

 

Alamogordo

103.7 FM KNMZ

Albuquerque

1150 AM KNMM

Carlsbad

1240 AM KAMQ

El Paso

1380 AM KHEY

Gallup

1230 AM, 94.9 FM KYVA

Las Vegas

107.1 FM KMDS

 

LOCKED UP

With the No. 1 seed locked up after Saturday’s victory over UT Rio Grande Valley, NM State has now earned the top-seed in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament back-to-back years and four of the last five seasons. NM State was the No. 1 seed at the WAC Tournament in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.

 

NM State has won the WAC Tournament two out of the three years it played as the No. 1 seed. The Aggies sandwiched their loss in 2016 with wins in 2015 and 2018. The team’s lone loss in 2016 came on a buzzer-beater from CSU Bakersfield.

 

IN THE NATION

Through games on Feb. 25, NM State is ranked seventh in the country rebounding margin (8.7) and its offensive rebounds per game (13.11) checks in at No. 19 in the nation. The 11.9 scoring margin for NM State is also good for 22nd best in the NCAA while its NET ranking of 56 is best amongst WAC teams. Meanwhile, the team’s .857 winning-percentage is tied for the eighth-best in the country with Michigan and Wofford.

 

ENTER THE POUCH OF OUCH

The Aggies enter their final road swing with a 12-1 all-time mark against Kansas City and 4-1 when playing on the road. The lone loss against the Roos, which came on the road, came in the first meeting between the two programs in 2014 – a 68-66 game in favor of Kansas City.

 

Through 28 games on the year, Xavier Bishop paces the team with a 15.6 points average while dishing out a team-high 99 assists and is one of five players shooting above .400 from the field. Rob Whitifield is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.0 points and 2.8 rebounds with 40 steals – which is just one off from the team-high of 41 held by Brandon McKissic. McKissic is also the third and final Roos player to average in double-figures, checking in with a 10.7 points average and 3.3 rebounding average.

 

However, in league play only Bishop (14.7 ppg) and McKissic (11.5 ppg) are averaging in double figures for the Roos while Marvin Nesbitt Jr is averaging 5.5 points and a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game.

 

NAVIGATING THE WINDY CITY

Two days after playing in the City of Fountains, NM State concludes the regular-season road swing with a 1 p.m. (MT) battle against the Cougars of Chicago State. The Aggies lead the all-time series 16-1 and 5-1 when playing on the road. The lone loss against the Cougars came in 2014 on the road, an 86-81 decision in favor of Chicago State.

 

Anthony Harris leads the team in scoring with a 14.3 scoring average while his 5.5 rebounds per game is second-best on the squad. Christian Jacob is second in scoring with 10.9 points per game to go with his team-high 5.7 rebounding average. Rob Shaw rounds out the list of double-digit scorers, averaging 10.4 points, 5.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds. Treveon Bell is just under the double-digit mark in scoring with 9.0 points per game while Cameron Bowles is right behind him at 8.6 points per game.

 

In league play, only Harris (13.9 ppg) and Jacob (12.4) are averaging in double figures while Shaw (9.5 ppg), Bell (8.6 ppg) and Bowles (8.6 ppg) are the only ones averaging five or more points. Shaw has dished out a team-high 59 dimes so far through 13 league games while Harris has tallied a team-high 18 steals while Bell has been Chicago State’s biggest 3-point thread with 24 made triples.

 

LAST TIME OUT

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team relatively cruised past UT Rio Grande Valley last Saturday, Feb. 23, despite the final score of 88-79. The Aggies led by as many as 20 points with 10:59 left to go in a chirpy game between the two teams that saw four technical and one ejection from UTRGV.

 

The Aggies (24-4, 12-1 WAC) got off to one of their better starts of the year offensively, shooting 58.3-percent (7-of-12) at the 11:40 media break to lead the visiting Vaqueros 19-11. As well as the Aggies were shooting, so were the Vaqueros (16-14, 7-6 WAC) – who hit 60-percent (12-of-20) of their shots at the 3:24 mark.

However, early foul trouble and 3-point differential in the first half saw NM State hold a 45-32 lead heading into halftime. During that final 3:24 minutes, the Aggie faithful were given a couple opportunities to get boisterous behind a couple jams from Johnny McCants and Trevelin Queen.

 

A 19-6 run in the first half of the second frame saw NM State go up 64-46 before Eli Chuha recorded his 1,000th at the 6:31 mark on a pass from Queen. UTRGV closed the game down the stretch, but it was too little too late as the reserve players held on for the Aggie victory.

 

UP NEXT

NM State returns home for its final game of the season inside the Pan American Center on Saturday, March 9, as it plays host to California Baptist. The Aggies will look to revenge their lone loss of conference play to the Lancers on the WAC Digital Network for senior day.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Following the final regular-season game of the year, New Mexico State gets some time to rest and recuperate at home before heading to #WACVegas (March 14-16) at Orleans Arena. As the No. 1 seed, the Aggies will get to choose what time it plays on the first day of action on Thursday, March 14. 

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