Aggies look to solve WAC Friday woes at Tarleton State

NMSU

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — The New Mexico State men’s basketball team will look to solve their Friday night woes when they travel to Stephenville, Texas, in matchup with Tarleton State. Friday night’s game will be the first game of a back-to-back series for the Aggies.

Since opening WAC play, NMSU is 0-4 when playing on a Friday night. As a result, the Aggies have split their last three series with California Baptist, Seattle U, and most recently Utah Valley. Heading into their final conference series of the regular season, NMSU is in sixth place at 6-6 (3-5 WAC).

Meanwhile, Tarleton State has had their own struggles this season. The Texans are in last place in the league at 7-9 (2-6 WAC) this season, most recently splitting their series with Dixie State last weekend.

Tip-off on Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT inside Wisdom Gym and the game can be streamed on ESPN+. Saturday night’s game will also tip-off at 6 p.m. MT and will be streamed on the WAC Digital Network.

Series preview courtesy: NM State Athletics
Game Thirteen
NM State (6-6, 3-5 WAC) at Tarleton State (7-9, 2-6 WAC)
Friday, Feb. 26 | 6:00 p.m. | Wisdom Gym | Stephenville, Texas
Watch | Listen | Live Stats | Tickets | NM State Game Notes | Tarleton State Game Notes | Gameday Program

Game Fourteen
NM State at Tarleton State
Saturday, Feb. 27 | 6:00 p.m. | Wisdom Gym | Stephenville, Texas
Watch | Listen | Live Stats | Tickets | NM State Game Notes | Tarleton State Game Notes | Gameday Program

OPENING TIPS
• Down to just four games left on its regular-season schedule, the NM State men’s basketball team heads to Stephenville, Texas, for the first time in program history to try and start its first WAC winning streak of 2020-21.
• The Aggies are set to take on Tarleton State on Friday and Saturday inside Wisdom Gym on TSU’s campus. Tip-off each night has been set for 6:00 p.m. MT.
• Friday night’s showdown will be streamed on ESPN+ and the ESPN app while Saturday night’s game will be streamed on the WAC Digital Network. John Liddle and Scott Garner will be handling play-by-play and analysis responsibilities.
• Over the airwaves, longtime NM State play-by-play man and US Bank/NM State Hall of Famer Jack Nixon will be on the from Wisdom Gym. Locally, Nixon’s call can be heard on Zia Country 99.5 FM in Las Cruces.
• Listeners outside of the Las Cruces area can access Nixon’s call on the Aggie Sports Network’s affiliate stations which include 103.5 FM KNMZ (Alamogordo), 1240 AM KAMQ (Carlsbad), 1380 AM KHEY (El Paso), 1230 AM, 94.9 FM KYVA (Gallup) and 107.1 FM KMDS (Las Vegas). Fans not in any of those areas can also find his broadcast via the TuneIn app which is available nationwide.

FAST BREAK POINTS
• Heading into this week’s series at Tarleton State, the Aggies sit in sixth place in the WAC standings. NM State is a half-game back of fifth-place Seattle U and two games behind fourth-place California Baptist.
• NM State is facing off against Tarleton State for the first time since the 1964-65 season. That year, the Aggies hosted the Texans on Dec. 7, 1964, and scored a 74-47 triumph over their Texas foes.
• Current NM State guard C.J. Roberts played for Tarleton State head coach Billy Gillispie last season while Gillispie was the head coach at Ranger College.
• After passing out five assists while not committing a turnover in the Aggies’ two-game series against Utah Valley last week, senior guard Evan Gilyard II hiked his assist-to-turnover ratio to 2.60. That figure is the second-highest in the WAC as well as the 32nd best in all of NCAA Division I men’s basketball.
• Junior guard Jabari Rice ranks eighth in the WAC in scoring at a clip of 14.7 points per game. His field goal percentage of 50.5 is the fifth-highest in the WAC as well as the 75th-best among all NCAA Division I players.
• Both Evan Gilyard II and senior forward Donnie Tillman are approaching the 1,000-career point mark for their respective college careers. Gilyard II needs 73 points to get to quadruple digits while Tillman is 87 points away from that milestone.

SCOUTING TARLETON STATE | ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS
• Ushering in their NCAA Division I era this season, the Texans are helmed by one of the foremost authorities on Lone Star State hoops in Billy Clyde Gillispie (or BCG, if you prefer).
• Topping the team’s scoring charts is Montre Gipson and his 14.5 points per game average. Gipson also reigns as one of the league’s best three-point shooters, having canned 51.2-percent (21-of-41) of his tries so far this season.
• Tahj Small (10.9 ppg) has also emerged as one of the squad’s finest long-range gunners, leading the team as well as the WAC with a three-point field goal percentage of 51.6 (16-of-31). Together, Gipson and Small have made the Texans the league’s second-best long-range shooting squad as Tarleton State has hit 39.1-percent (93-of-238) of its downtown tries this year.
• Freshman Shamir Bogues – brother of Shannon Bogues who played with former Aggie Jemerrio Jones on the NBA G League’s Wisconsin Herd in 2019-20 – ranks second in the WAC in steals at a rate of 2.1 per game. Bogues exemplifies the Texans’ hard-nosed defensive approach, too, as Tarleton State tops the WAC charts in steals per game (11.4) and ranks second in turnovers forced per game (20.1).
• The Texans’ best option off the bench has been Russian sophomore Konstantin Dotsenko. The forward has put in 20 or more points in three of his last five outings and ranks second on the team in scoring at a clip of 11.2 points per game.
• Tarleton State is the owner of a 5-2 record in games played at its home venue of Wisdom Gym, but is 0-2 in WAC home games. The Texans’ only home conference games of the season came on January 8-9 when they hosted league-leading Grand Canyon.

LAST TIME OUT | NM State 67 vs. Utah Valley 60 | Feb. 20, 2021
• Tied at 60 with Utah Valley with 1:51 remaining, NM State sank seven free throws in the last 64 seconds to claim a 67-60 victory over the Wolverines Saturday night at Eastwood High School in El Paso, Texas.
• Senior Donnie Tillman put the Aggies on top for the last time when he broke the 60-60 deadlock with two free throw makes with 1:04 left.
• Jabari Rice put forth his second 20-point effort of the season by netting a game-high 20 point in the Aggies’ victory.
• Senior guard Evan Gilyard II added 16 points for the Aggies while coming up with two of the team’s five steals in the win.
• All but two of Tillman’s 10 points on the night came from the free throw line. Tillman went 8-of-8 from the stripe, setting a season-high in both free throw attempts and free throws made.
• It was from the free throw line where the Aggies did most of their damage, especially in the second half. NM State went 21-of-25 from the stripe, hitting a season-high 84-percent of their tries from that distance. For the game the Aggies finished with a 14-point edge over Utah Valley from the foul line.
• Through the final 20 minutes, 18 of the Aggies’ 37 points (48.6-percent) came from free throws. NM State’s free throw shooting in the second half helped offset a 7-of-25 (28-percent) effort from the field through the frame.
• The win marked the Aggies’ third-straight victory on a Saturday. In 2020-21, the Aggies own a 3-1 record in games played on Saturday.
• For the second-straight game and the fourth time in the last six games the Aggies finished with fewer than 10 turnovers. NM State committed just nine throwaways in the victory.

LAST TIME OUT vs. BILLY GILLISPIE | NM State 60, at UTEP 85 | Dec. 17, 2003
• NM State has crossed paths with current Tarleton State head coach Billy Gillespie on four occasions. The most recent of those meetings came on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2003 at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas, when Gillispie was in his second and final year in charge of UTEP.
• That night, the Miners tore up the Aggies 85-60 behind strong efforts from the free throw line and on the glass. NM State finished -22 in the rebounding department in that game as UTEP held a 45-23 advantage on the boards.
• Eventual All-Sun Belt First Team selection and 2002-03 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year James Moore finished with a team-high 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field for the Aggies. Moore also went 8-of-10 from the foul line and grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
• Duane John added 11 points on a 3-of-15 effort from the field for NM State.
• NM State went 13-of-19 from the free throw stripe, but the Miners got 12 more points from the Aggies from that distance in order to help them win. UTEP posted a 25-of-32 mark from the charity stripe and received a game-high 21 points from Jason Williams to sweep the season series.
• Williams also added a game-high eight rebounds as well as a game-high five assists for the Miners.
• The Aggies finished the 2003-04 season with a 13-14 record while the Miners went 24-8 and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

COMING UP NEXT
• NM State’s final regular season WAC series of 2020-21 sends the Aggies to St. George, Utah, for two tilts against WAC newcomer and NCAA Division I newbie Dixie State. Those games have been set for 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6.

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