LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — The cardiac kids from New Mexico State will return to the floor on Wednesday night in search of their first Power 5 win of the season against Washington State. It is the fourth meeting all-time between the Aggies and Cougars, all of which have come since Chris Jans took over as head coach of NMSU in 2017.
The Aggies (8-2) have won their last three games by a combined 10 points, including buzzer-beater wins at UTEP and New Mexico respectively. However, in NMSU’s last time out on the floor, they left more to be desired in a 63-58 win over Loyola Marymount last Saturday. The Aggies turned the ball over 26 times and shot just 46% from the field, but found a way to win ugly.
“We are going to have to play much better. I know that, especially on the offensive end,” said Jans. “They are a talented team, and they’ll take super advantage of us if we have 26 turnovers again and shoot the ball the way we did.”
NMSU is 2-1 all-time against Washington State, and Jans has led the Aggies to five wins over Power 5 programs since arriving on campus. He knows these wins don’t come easy, especially against a hungry Cougars team that is coming off a tough three-point loss to South Dakota State last Saturday. Washington State is 7-3 this season.
“They’re a good basketball team,” said Jans. “They have a lot of people talking about them, and we’ve never played them in Pullman — it’ll be hard. It’s going to be hard.”
Tip-off at the Beasley Coliseum is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network.
Game Notes (Courtesy: NM State Athletics)
THE OPENING TIP
• The endpoint of a season-long four-game stretch of true road games for the NM State men’s basketball team is the Pacific Northwest as the Aggies set up in Pullman, Wash., for a Wednesday night showdown with Pac-12 opponent Washington State inside Beasley Coliseum.
• Tip-off for the fourth all-time meeting between the Cougars and Aggies is set for 8:00 p.m. MT Wednesday night.
• Pac-12 Washington will be carrying each and every second of the action with Greg Heister and Dan Dickau set to narrate the action.
• Over the radio (and internet radio) airwaves, legendary radio play-by-play man Jack Nixon will set up shop courtside to call the action.
• Nixon’s play-by-play and analysis can be heard on 99.5 Zia Country FM in Las Cruces, N.M., and nationwide on The Varsity Network app.
• Affiliate stations of the Aggie Sports Network can be tuned in to in Artesia, N.M. (990 AM), Carlsbad, N.M. (1240 AM), Gallup, N.M. (94.9 FM), Alamogordo, N.M. (103.7 FM) and El Paso, Texas (1380 AM). All of those stations will also carry Nixon’s commentary of Wednesday night’s tilt.
FAST BREAK POINTS
• For the third time since Chris Jans became the Aggies’ head coach, NM State has won eight of its first 10 games to start the season. NM State previously started 8-2 in both 2017-18 and 2018-19, eventually winning the WAC regular season title and WAC Tournament title in each of those campaigns.
• The Aggies’ collective shooting percentage of .480 ranks second in the WAC and 42nd in the nation.
• Shot blocking has been a key component of the Aggies’ hot start, too. NM State is averaging 4.3 blocked shots per game – a figure which ranks 76th nationally. In Jans’ tenure as the Aggies’ head coach, NM State has never exceeded 3.0 blocked shots per game in a season.
• NM State has won its last three games, matching its longest winning streak of the season in the process.
• The Aggies are 3-0 in true road games this season and have won each of their last five games of that classification. Only two other NCAA Division I teams (Gonzaga and West Virginia) have lengthier winning streaks in true road games.
• Under the direction of Jans, NM State has put up an impressive mark of 35-12 (.745) in true road games since the start of the 2017-18 season.
• With Jans leading the way, the Aggies have posted a 5-6 (.455) record against Power Five opponents. That mark includes a 5-4 (.556) showing against Power Five foes in regular-season tilts. NM State has secured wins over Illinois, Miami, Mississippi State and Washington State (twice) under Jans’ direction since 2017-18.
• NM State hasn’t led wire-to-wire in a single game this season, but that hasn’t stopped it from winning. Twice this season the Aggies have erased double-digit deficits to emerge as the victors.
• NM State’s NET ranking of 84 is the second-best among all WAC teams as of this writing. The Aggies have generated two victories against teams who are among the top 55 in the latest edition of the NET rankings (Davidson, 49, and UC Irvine, 54).
NM STATE vs. WASHINGTON STATE | SERIES HISTORY AND TIDBITS
• For the first 114 years of the program’s existence, NM State never crossed paths with Washington State on the hardwood. When the Aggies and Cougars duke it out Wednesday night, however, it will mark the fourth time in the last 1,111 days in which the teams will have played one another.
• Now in his fifth season in charge of the Aggies, head coach Chris Jans is the only coach in the history of the program who has taken down Washington State. As a matter of fact, Jans is 2-1 against Washington State in his coaching career with this two victories accounting for both his his career victories against Pac-12 adversaries.
• All-time, Jans is 2-3 against Pac-12 foes and that includes a 2-2 record when playing opponents from that league on neutral courts.
• Now at his fourth coaching stop, third-year Washington State bench boss Kyle Smith will be matching wits against Jans for the second time. Previously, Smith was in charge at San Francisco and his stint with the Dons came after head coaching stops at Columbia from the Ivy League and Saint Francis in the NEC.
• Six current members of the Aggies’ team have played Washington State in their respective careers. Those individuals include Clayton Henry, Johnny McCants, Will McNair Jr., Nate Pryor, Jabari Rice and Donnie Tillman.
• Jans is 12-8 (.600) as the Aggies’ head coach in games played in the Pacific time zone.
LAST TIME OUT vs. WASHINGTON STATE | NM State 54, vs. Washington State 63 | Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
• NM State enjoyed two separate three-point leads in the first half over Washington State, but following C.J. Bobbitt’s three-pointer which put the Aggies up 14-11 with 9:42 left the Cougars went on a 16-2 run before the opening stanza came to a close and held on for a 63-54 win at the Spokane Arena.
• Washington State’s lead grew to as many as 14 points in the opening minutes of the second half after CJ Elleby splashed a long ball to put the Aggies at a 39-25 disadvantage with 15:38 left.
• Following that three-pointer, NM State took off on a 14-2 run to make a run at a win. Jabari Rice put in six of his team-high 14 points through the run and it was his old-fashioned three-point play with 11:27 left that pulled the Aggies within two, 41-39.
• Over the next five-and-a-half minutes, however, the Cougars took off on a 12-2 run of their own and reestablished their double-digit lead.
• Though NM State finished with a 42-37 edge on the glass, that wasn’t enough to offset an poor shooting performance by the Aggies. NM State went just 5-of-28 (17.9-percent) from three-point range while committing 17 turnovers.
• The free throw disparity played a part in the Aggies’ loss, too. NM State made just seven of its 14 tries from the charity stripe (50-percent) while the Cougars converted 21 of their 26 (80.8-percent) attempts from that distance.
• Together, Queen and Rice combined for 28 of the Aggies’ 54 points. Those two finished a collective 12-of-31 (.387) from the field while no other Aggie totaled more than eight points in the neutral-site loss.
LAST TIME OUT | NM State 63, at Loyola Marymount 58 | Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021
• Though it didn’t hit a single field goal after Jabari Rice’s step-back jumper with 7:18 to go, the NM State men’s basketball team dug deep on defense and used some fine free throw shooting to claim a 63-58 triumph at Loyola Marymount last Saturday evening.
• The Aggies used a 21-of-25 (84-percent) showing from the charity stripe in order to secure their first win over a West Coast Conference opponent in the Chris Jans coaching era. Those 21 free throw makes represented the second-highest single-game total this year for NM State.
• Relentless on the glass, NM State finished with a 37-22 (+15) edge in rebounding over the Lions in order to capture the victory, too. That rebounding margin tied the team’s most lopsided mark of the season.
• Rebounding and free throw shooting were two important components for the Aggies in the win as they had to survive a season-high 26 turnovers. Those 26 throwaways were the highest single-game total in the Chris Jans coaching era and were also the most in a single-game by the Aggies since they committed the same number in a 79-57 non-conference home win over Louisiana on Nov. 23, 2012.
• Teddy Allen kept his streak of double-digit scoring games alive by finishing with a team-high 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field. The guard added a game-high eight rebounds, too, and went 6-of-7 from the foul line to help NM State secure the win.
• Rice added a 7-of-8 performance from the free throw line in NM State’s victory, too, while Johnny McCants went 4-of-6 from that distance to aid the Aggies in victory. Rice’s two free throw makes with 45 seconds left gave the visitors the lead for good while McCants’ two makes with 18 seconds to go padded NM State’s slim lead.
• The win marked NM State’s third in a game decided by five points or less in 2021-22. NM State is 3-0 in games decided by five points or fewer this season and under Jans the Aggies possess a 23-9 (.719) record in games of that configuration.
• Defensively, Rice did a masterful job making sure Loyola Marymount sharpshooter Joe Quintana didn’t get anything easy. Coming into Saturday’s showdown, Quintana was averaging 16.2 points per game and shooting 45.7-percent from three-point range. With Rice on him through the game, Quintana was limited to just five points on a 1-of-7 effort from the field. That shooting performance included a 1-of-5 outing from long range.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE
• Unafraid to let it fly from long range – and equally fearless to play some strong defense – Washington State is hoping to make it two consecutive victories against NM State Wednesday night.
• The Cougars lead the Pac-12 in three-point field goal attempts (247), three-pointers made (87) and three-pointers per game (8.7).
• Interior defense, specifically that of Efe Abogidi, has been a strength of the Cougars, too. Washington State ranks 27th nationally with 54 total blocked shots while its 5.4 rejections per contest is the 29th-best mark among all NCAA Division I college basketball teams. Abogidi’s 1.9 blocks per game is the third-highest average among all Pac-12 players.
• Leading scorer Michael Flowers (14.1 ppg) has been averaging 2.6 made three-pointers per tilt for the Cougars this season. That’s the third-highest average among all Pac-12 players.
• Washington State ranks 59th in the nation in terms of field goal percentage defense (.394) and 34th in the land in rebounding margin (+7.6).
COMING UP NEXT
• NM State returns to Las Cruces, N.M., for the final two games of its non-conference slate. Once they get back to the Land of Enchantment, the Aggies will have a quick turnaround for their Saturday afternoon showdown with Northern New Mexico. Tip-off inside the Pan American Center is set for 4:00 p.m. that day.