Aggies pick up first WAC Friday win at Tarleton State, seek first series sweep Saturday

NMSU

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (KTSM) – The New Mexico State men’s basketball team picked up their first WAC win on a Friday this season by blowing out Tarleton State, 78-51, at Wisdom Gym. The Aggies improving to 7-6 (4-5) on the season.

Johnny McCants led NMSU with 18 points while C.J. Roberts added 14 points in the win. Marcus Williams also scored in double figures for the Aggies with 12 points in 15 minutes of action off the bench.

The Aggies cashed in on a season-high 13 three-pointers while matching its season-high in assists (19). NMSU shot 58 percent (29-of-50) from the field and outrebounded the Texans 34-21.

NMSU will look to come up with their first series sweep of the season in a rematch with Tarleton State on Saturday in Stephenville. A win would get the Aggies’ conference record back to .500 with a chance to climb the WAC standings ahead of the conference tournament in March. Tip-off on Saturday is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT and the game will air on ESPN+.

Game Recap, Courtesy: NM State Athletics
FIRST HALF
• Before the Aggies started going bonkers from long distance, Friday night’s series opener was one where the Texans took control early on. Tarleton capped its 9-4 run over the game’s first six minutes with a three-ball off the mitts of Montre Gipson.
• The Aggies, meanwhile, didn’t obtain their first advantage of the game until the 11:44 mark when C.J. Roberts broke a 13-13 tie by completing a three-point play with a make at the foul line out of the game’s second media timeout.
• Roberts broke another deadlock, this one of the 14-14 variety, at the 11:24 mark of the frame with the second of his three long-range hits in the showdown. Following that downtown splashdown, the Aggies never trailed again.
• Tarleton trimmed the Aggies’ lead to one, 17-16, after Montre Gipson converted a second-chance layup with 10:21 showing on the clock, but from there NM State started to pour it on.
• The Aggies’ lead stood at only two points, 20-18, with 7:45 remaining in the frame before back-to-back layups by Donnie Tillman signaled the start of an 8-0 Aggie surge. Clayton Henry concluded that scoring spurt by draining a nifty layup which hiked the visitors’ lead to 28-18 with 4:45 left.
• A three-point play by Tahj Small momentarily slow the Aggies, but the visitors closed out the half on a 13-2 run to open things up in a big way. Johnny McCantsJabari Rice and Kalen Williams each drilled long balls through the Aggies’ run to conclude the frame and NM State held the Texans to just a single field goal make through the final 7:30 of the half.
• Once the dust had settled at the halftime horn, NM State found itself the owners of a 41-23 advantage. The Aggies’ advantage was made possible by an otherworldly 69.8-percent (16-of-23) showing from the field in the frame. That percentage grew to near 70 as a result of the Aggies’ exceptional long-range accuracy. NM State shot 8-of-9 (88.9-percent) from downtown in the frame.

SECOND HALF
• The visitors’ lead hit 20 for the first time after Rice reached up and banked home a layup which made the score 43-23 just 1:34 into the final frame.
• NM State was able to coast through the majority of the second half as it never saw its edge dip below 16 points. The Aggies’ massive margin grew to as many as 31, 71-40, after Williams swished a pair of free throws with 6:18 to go.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• McCants mauled the Texans, going for a game-high 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting which included a 3-of-3 effort from long range. Playing against his former coach in Tarleton’s Billy Gillispie, Roberts concluded his night with a season-high 14 points which complimented a season and game-best five assists.
• Marcus Watson came off the bench and added 12 points – all in the second half – in his 15 minutes of action. Tillman totaled seven points as well as a game-high seven rebounds. With Tillman on their side, the Aggies enjoyed a 34-21 (+13) edge on the glass.]
• The three-point line was where the Aggies did a ton of damage. NM State went 13-of-22 (59.1-percent) from that distance, putting up the best single-game three-point field goal percentage in Chris Jans‘ tenure as the team’s head coach in the process.
• NM State won a game on Friday for the first time in 2020-21 thanks to the victory. It also represented the Aggies’ second-straight WAC victory which marks NM State’s first back-to-back league wins of the 2020-21 campaign.
• Tarleton was led by freshman guard Shamir Bogues who dropped in 14 points while adding five rebounds. Gipson chipped in 12 for the Texans who dropped to 0-2 all-time against NM State.

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