LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – The New Mexico State men’s basketball team will take the floor on Thursday night against California Baptist with history on the line. The Aggies are looking to become just the third team to go undefeated in league play in Western Athletic Conference history.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Pan American Center and the Aggies will honor their six seniors on ‘Senior Day.’
THE OPENING TIPS
• Currently just two teams in the history of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) have posted a perfect run through regular season league action, but the rv/— NM State men’s basketball team is looking to become the third Thursday night when it takes on California Baptist in its regular season finale at 7:00 p.m. inside the Pan Am Center.
• Thursday night’s game is sponsored by First Financial and will also serve as senior night for six Aggie seniors – Ivan Aurrecoechea, C.J. Bobbitt, Terrell Brown, Shunn Buchanan, AJ Harris and Trevelin Queen – who are playing inside the Pan Am Center for the final time.
• Numerous television stations and online streams are set to carry the fourth all-time meeting between the Aggies and Lancers and they include FOX Sports Arizona, FOX College Sports Pacific, Altitude Sports and Comcast New Mexico. Internet-based streams of the game can also be accessed via the FOX Sports GO app as well as the WAC Digital Network. One thing all of these broadcasts have in common is that the formidable duo of Adam Young and Rus Bradburd are set to handle play-by-play and analysis responsibilities.
• As has been the case for four decades, Jack Nixon is set to handle play-by-play and analysis duties for the Aggies’ tilt over the radio airwaves. Locally, Nixon’s narration can be heard on 99.5 FM KXPZ 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), 1150 AM KNMM (Albuquerque, 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.
THE SERIES | NM STATE vs. CALIFORNIA BAPTIST
Overall vs. California Baptist | 2-1 (.667)
In Las Cruces, N.M. | 1-0 (1.000)
At the Pan Am Center | 1-0 (1.000)
In Riverside, Calif. | 1-1 (.500)
At the CBU Events Center | 1-1 (.500)
At neutral sites | 0-0 (.000)
Last meeting | NM State 86, at CBU 71 | 1.4.20
Last NMSU win | 1.4.20 | 86-71
Last NMSU home win | 3.9.19 | 75-63
Last NMSU road win | 1.4.20 | 86-71
Last CBU win | 1.3.19 | 82-76
Last CBU home win | 1.3.19 | 82-76
Last CBU road win | none
Largest margin of victory (NMSU) | 15 | 86-71 on 1.4.20
Largest margin of defeat (NMSU) | 6 | 82-76 on 1.3.19
Current Streak | NMSU won two
Last five games | 2-1 (.667)
Last five home games | 1-0 (1.000)
Last five away games | 1-1 (.500)
Last 10 games | 2-1 (.667)
Last 10 home games | 1-0 (1.000)
Last 10 away games | 1-1 (.500)
NM State points | average | 237 | 79.0
CBU points | average | 216 | 72.0
NMSU scoring margin | +7.0
Jans vs. CBU | 2-1 (.667)
At the Pan Am Center | 1-0 (1.000)
At the CBU Events Center | 1-1 (.500)
Jans vs. Croy | 2-1 (.667)
Croy vs. NM State | 1-2 (.333)
Jans on 3.5 | 0-0 (.000)
NMSU all-time on 3.5 | 15-11 (.577)
WE SEEK PERFECTION
• Just one more win separates the Aggies from becoming the third team in the history of the WAC to go undefeated through a regular season league slate.
• Former WAC members TCU (14-0 in 1997-98) and Utah (14-0 in 1998-99) managed to go through their regular season league schedules in the late 1990s without a setback, but if NM State defeats the Lancers the Aggies would be the first team in league history to go 16-0 in regular season action.
• Should the Aggies walk away as the victors Thursday night, they would become the 17th team this decade and the 37th team in the 21st century to run through regular season league play without a loss. The NCAA Division I men’s basketball team to post a perfect record in conference play was Wofford in 2018-19 who went 18-0 in SoCON play.
• Dating back to 2016-17, NM State has won its last 13 games in the month of March against WAC opposition.
• The Aggies haven’t lost to a WAC opponent in March since 2016 when CSU Bakersfield emerged with a 57-54 win in the WAC Tournament Championship game.
• Head coach Chris Jans is 9-0 against WAC teams and 9-2 overall in the month of March as the Aggies head coach.
• As an NCAA Division I head coach, Jans is 11-6 all-time in the month of March.
LET’S TALK 25
• Since NM State’s basketball program began in 1905, the Aggies have reached the 25-win mark in just 11 seasons.
• Of those 11 seasons of 25 or more wins, six have come in the 21st century. With one, the Aggies would hit the 25-win mark for the fourth-consecutive season, extending the program’s longest run of 25+ win seasons.
• In the last 1980s and 1990s, Neil McCarthy led the Aggies to four 25+ win seasons to produce the most 25+ win seasons by a NM State head coach.
• Third-year bench boss Chris Jans hit the 25-win mark in each of his first two seasons in charge in Las Cruces and can become the first NM State head coach to win 25 or more games in three straight seasons by leading the Aggies to three more victories in 2019-20.
• If the Aggies get to the 25-win mark, they’d become one of three teams who have won 25+ games in each of the last three seasons. Other teams on that list include Kansas and Gonzaga with more likely to join that group as the regular season winds down in the coming week.
• Should NM State hit the 25-win mark Thursday night, it would make Jans one eight active NCAA Division I head coaches post 25+ wins in each of his first three seasons at an institution. Other coaches who have done that include John Calipari, Mark Few, Bill Self and Bruce Weber.
LAST TIME OUT vs. CALIFORNIA BAPTIST | JAN. 4, 2020
• Able to sustain the momentum they gathered up through the late stages of their non-conference schedule, the Aggies rolled into Riverside, Calif., and hammered California Baptist 86-71 in their 2019-20 WAC opener.
• Ivan Aurrecoechea came up with a team-high 20 points and finished two rebounds shy of a double-double while the duo of Johnny McCants and Trevelin Queen combined to score 28 of NM State’s 50 second-half points.
• McCants finished with 17 while Queen contributed 16 to help NM State run past the Lancers.
• In the second half, Queen went 5-for-5 from the field and haf 14 of his 16 in that frame. NM State also committed just three turnovers through the final 20 minutes of action to secure the win.
• Offensive rebounding played a huge part in the battle as the Aggies owned a 17-8 edge in that department. Thanks to that advantage, NM State also generated a 25-3 (+22) edge in second-chance points.
• Senior Terrell Brown came off the bench and hit three of the Aggies’ 10 three-pointers to help him finish with 11 points.
• NM State’s battle with the Lancers was also the lone appearance for senior AJ Harris in WAC action this season. Harris finished with nine points in eight minutes before suffering a leg injury that has kept him sidelined since.
• The win was the Aggies’ first in Riverside against the Lancers who managed to defeat NM State in the inaugural meeting between the two clubs in January of 2019.
LAST TIME OUT | NM STATE at CSU BAKERSFIELD | FEB. 29, 2020
• CSU Bakersfield started the game by drilling a three-pointer, but the Aggies answered with a 9-0 run off of a trio of trifectas of their own and never looked back in a 62-46 triumph over the Roadrunners in the Icardo Center.
• Johnny McCants finished with a team-high 14 points and was a perfect 4-of-4 from long range to help NM State complete a perfect run through WAC regular season road games for the first time in head coach Chris Jans’ tenure in Las Cruces.
• McCants and Terrell Brown (12 points) combined to hit eight of the Aggies’ 13 three-pointers while Evan Gilyard II put up a well-rounded stat line of nine points, six rebounds and six assists.
• Of the Aggies’ 20 made field goals, 13 came from long distance. NM State’s seven made two pointers were the fewest in a win for the squad this season.
• The 46 points were the fewest points scored by CSU Bakersfield in two years.
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA BAPTIST
• After suffering a loss to NM State back on January 4, the Lancers haven’t done much more losing since then. CBU has gone 9-3 in the games since their defeat at the hands of the Aggies and has eclipsed the 20-win mark in that span, too. NM State and California Baptist are the only two WAC teams with 20+ wins to their credit this season.
• Much like NM State, the Lancers have their fair share of depth on their side. Leading the charge is Milan Acquaah with his 18.2 points per game but Ferron Flavors Jr., (13.7 ppg), De’jon Davis (11.9 ppg) and Brandon Boyd (11.3 ppg) are all legitimate high-level scoring threats as well.
• Davis is the leader of a great rebounding team as he averages a team-best 9.9 boards per game That has helped the Lancers corral 41.0 caroms per game – a figure that makes them the best rebounding team in the WAC.
• In all, CBU leads the league in nine statistical categories including scoring offense (80.7 ppg), scoring margin (+11.4), free throw percentage (.784), field goal percentage defense (.417), three-point field goal percentage (.382), rebounding (41.0 per game), assist to turnover ratio (1.2), defensive rebounds per game (29.4) and three-pointers per game (10.0).
• CBU head coach Rick Croy holds the distinction of being one of just two current WAC head coaches who have defeated the Aggies in the Chris Jans era.
COMING UP NEXT
• Should the Aggies defeat the Lancers Thursday night, they’ll take the nation’s longest winning streak to Sin City for the 2020 WAC Men’s Basketball Tournament. Top-seeded NM State could begin its quest for a fourth-straight NCAA Tournament big Thursday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. MT when it is set to take on Chicago State. The Cougars, however, may not be traveling to the WAC Tournament which would give the Aggies a first-round bye. More information regarding WAC Tournament seeding will be available this week.