LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — The New Mexico State men’s basketball team has started the season 2-0 with quality wins over UC Irvine and UTEP. The Aggies will now look to put on an impressive showing in South Carolina at the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
NMSU will open play on Thursday morning against Davidson at the HTC Center. The Aggies will play Penn or Utah State on Friday, with Sunday’s opponent to be determined. Oklahoma, East Carolina, Indiana State and Old Dominion round-out the tournament field.
“You play in these tournament for a bunch of reasons. It’s the only time all year where you get close to simulating a conference tournament where you’re playing in consecutive days. You’re playing for a championship,” said NMSU head coach Chris Jans.” I know it’s cliché, but since we’ve arrived, that’s all we talk about is winning championships. This will be another opportunity to do that.”
Tip-off on Thursday against Davidson is scheduled for 10 a.m. The game will air nationally on ESPNU.
Game Notes (Courtesy: NM State Athletics)
THE OPENING TIP
• Following back-to-back home contests to open its 2021-22 campaign, the NM State men’s basketball team takes its show on the road and will be one of the eight teams who comprise the field of the 2021 Myrtle Beach Invitational.
• NM State opens its run in the MTE with a 10:00 a.m. MT showdown with Davidson Thursday morning at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C.
• ESPNU and the ESPN app will broadcast each and every second of the action in the second meeting between NM State and Davidson. Kevin Fitzgerald and Dane Bradshaw will be on the call.
• Over the airwaves, legendary radio play-by-play man Jack Nixon will be stationed courtside to narrate the action.
• Nixon’s call 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 Tuesday night’s tilt.
• Following Tuesday night’s slate of games, just 98 NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams are without a loss in 2021-22.
• NM State is one of three teams in the 2021 Myrtle Beach Invitational field who haven’t suffered a setback thus far. East Carolina (3-0) and Oklahoma (2-0) are the other two undefeated teams in the field.
• In addition to NM State, two other WAC teams – California Baptist and Grand Canyon – have not been defeated so far in 2021-22.
• The Aggies are 2-0 to start a season for the third time in head coach Chris Jans‘ tenure.
• For the first time in program history, NM State is heading to the state of South Carolina to take part in a basketball game (or three).
• Though the Aggies have never set foot in the Palmetto State, they have battled three opponents who call the state home through their history. Most recently, NM State suffered a 79-68 setback to fifth-seeded Clemson in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament in San Diego, Calif.
• NM State has emerged as the victors against both South Carolina State (72-61 on Dec. 29, 1988 inside the Pan American Center) as well as The Citadel (92-66 on Dec. 28, 1967 at the Arkansas State Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark.), putting their record against foes from the state at 2-1.
• In addition to NM State and Davidson, six other squads from around the nation – East Carolina, Indiana State, Oklahoma, Old Dominion, Penn and Utah State – are converging in Conway to try to claim the title of Myrtle Beach Invitational champions.
• NM State is 4-3 (.571) in games played on the ESPN family of linear networks (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU) in Chris Jans‘ tenure as head coach.
• For the third time in head coach Chris Jans‘ tenure in Las Cruces, the Aggies will duke it out with an opponents from the A-10.
• Jans is 1-1 as NM State’s head coach against A-10 foes as NM State’s head coach. He led NM State to a win over Davidson in 2017 at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic before falling to George Mason in the championship game of the 2019 Cayman Islands Classic.
• All-time, NM State is 5-10 (.333) against current A-10 programs.
CAROLINA IN MY MIND
• When they hit the court against Davidson Thursday in Myrtle Beach, NM State will be taking on a foe from North Carolina for the seventh time in program history.
• The Aggies are 2-4 (.333) all-time against adversaries from North Carolina.
• Multiple-team events – or MTE’s as they are commonly referred to as – have allowed NM State to secure a number of high-profile victories in the Chris Jans coaching era.
• Since Jans set foot in Las Cruces, the Aggies have taken part in three such events and have a 7-3 (.700) record to show for their efforts.
• During Jans’ tenure, NM State has traveled to Hawaii (Diamond Head Classic in 2017), Las Vegas (Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational in 2018) and the Cayman Islands (Cayman Islands Classic in 2019) to take part in MTE action.
• It was in Honolulu in 2017 that the Aggies laid claim to a massive 63-54 victory over #6/7 Miami on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. That win was NM State’s first over a top-ten program since they knocked off Jerry Tarkanian’s seventh-ranked UNLV squad inside the Pan American Center on Jan. 8, 1990. It also marked the second victory over a Power Five program in a three-game stretch for Jans and the Aggies.
• One thing that has eluded Jans and company in these MTE’s, though, is a title in one of them. NM State has advanced to the championship game in two of the three MTE’s it has taken part in but has come up short each time.
• At the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in 2017, NM State finished as a runner-up at the event after suffering a 77-72 setback to USC in the title bout. A 66-63 setback to Drake in the third game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic in 2018 prevented NM State from going to the title game in that event. Once again, NM State advanced to the championship game of an MTE by taking on George Mason in the title tile of the Cayman Islands Classic in 2019, but the Aggies saw a double-digit lead slip away in their 68-64 loss to the Patriots.
LAST TIME OUT vs. DAVIDSON | NM State 69, Davidson 68 | Dec. 22, 2017
• Staring a seven-point deficit squarely in the face with 7:14 remaining, the NM State men’s basketball team showed off its grit and tenacity by coming all the way back to win a 69-68 decision over Davidson in the first game for both teams at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
• Jemerrio Jones played the role of hero for the Aggies, connecting on a game-winning put-back with eight seconds to go. The senior also had a key steal in the waning second to help put the game on ice.
• Though it was Jemerrio Jones who conjured up the game-winning basket, he was hardly on his own. Eli Chuha and Keyon Jones submitted 13 points apiece while AJ Harris and Zach Lofton added 12 and 10 respectively to help the Aggies reach the 10-win mark before the new year.
• Despite taking 17 fewer field goal attempts than the Aggies, Davidson submitted its bid to win in part by posting a 13-of-15 showing from the free throw stripe. NM State, meanwhile, was just 4-of-6 from that distance.
• The Aggies appeared poised to run away with things after Jemerrio Jones’ layup with 19:05 to go in the second half handed his team a 12-point lead (39-27). Peyton Aldridge captained a Davidson comeback, though, by scoring 17 of his game-high 26 points in the final frame.
• Chuha, Jemerrio Jones and Keyon Jones joined forces to produce 12 of the Aggies’ final 16 points of the tilt. Those three also combined for eight of NM State’s 14 offensive rebounds which led to 14 second-chance points.
LAST TIME OUT | NM State 77, vs. UTEP 71 | Nov. 13, 2021
• In front of a raucous congregation from all around the borderland, NM State maintained its recent dominance over Texas and C-USA foe UTEP with a 77-71 victory inside the Pan American Center Saturday night.
• Jabari Rice led the way for NM State in the second half as the Aggies turned a two-possession game into a runaway for the vast majority of the frame. Rice’s 15 points included 12 in a deciding half that saw the Aggies connect on 57.7-percent of their field goal tries.
• Once again, balance was the name of the game for NM State. Four Aggies finished with 12 or more points including Teddy Allen and Yuat Alok who chipped in 13 apiece.
• Donnie Tillman helped put things away for the home team, too, by amassing 12 points along with eight rebounds.
• Johnny McCants’ willingness to lead the way on the glass allowed the Las Cruces, N.M., product to finish with a game-best nine boards. With McCants and Tillman on their side, NM State owned a 39-29 (+10) edge in rebounding.
• NM State’s grew to 19 points (70-51) after Allen knocked down his second three-pointer with 7:38 to go. Through the final 6:19, though, UTEP showed off its never-say-die attitude by closing the game on a 20-7 surge.
• The win was the second in a row for the Aggies over the Miners. NM State has now won nine of its last 10 and 14 of its last 16 matchups with its Texas rival.
• Head coach Chris Jans hiked his record against UTEP to 6-1 (.857) in the Aggies’ single-digit triumph.
SCOUTING DAVIDSON | ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS
• Following a 93-71 pasting of Delaware on college basketball’s opening night, Davidson was knocked from the ranks of the sport’s unbeaten clubs after absorbing a 65-60 setback at San Francisco. Now, embarking on a return trip to the eastern part of the country, Bob McKillop and the Wildcats are hoping to exact vengeance against NM State in the opening round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
• Michigan State transfer Foster Loyer made quite the splash – figuratively and literally – in his team’s season-opener against Delaware. The guard went 6-of-6 from long range and torched Delaware for a game-high 27 points in the Wildcats’ opener last Tuesday night.
• Loyer leads a pack of four Wildcats who are averaging at least 12 points per game through the early stages of the season. Each of those four individuals hails from a different country and Austrian senior Luka Brajkovic (12.0 ppg) is coming off a 17-point outing against San Francisco. New Zealander Sam Mennenga (13.5 ppg) and South Korean junior Hyunjung Lee (13.0 ppg) have each posted double-digit scoring outings in each of their first two games.
• If you think the program that produced NBA sharpshooter Steph Curry excels from long range, you’re absolutely right. The Wildcats head into Thursday’s showdown ranked second among all NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams in terms of three-point field goal percentage (.514) this season. Loyer’s long-distance accuracy rate of 77.8-percent is the fifth-best among all DI players.
• McKillop’s name is synonymous with Davidson hoops as the Wildcats’ bench boss is in the midst of his 33rd season in charge of the private North Carolina college. Last season, McKillop joined an exclusive 600-win club which also includes the likes of Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo and Mark Few. He’s one of just five active NCAA Division I head coaches who have racked up 600 or more victories at the same institution.
• By swapping out a Michigan State uniform for a Davidson one this past offseason, Loyer has now played for two of the five active NCAA Division I head coaches who have racked up 600 wins at the same institution.
• Brajkovic and Lee collected Preseason All-A-10 acclaim prior to the start of the season. Davidson was selected to finish sixth in the league by the conference’s head coaches.
• Lee’s basketball acumen has not been lost on college basketball pundits, either, as he was one of 20 players from around the country named to the 2022 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award watch list. The South Korean national team star is one of just three mid-major players among that 20-man list.
COMING UP NEXT
• Depending on its result against Davidson Thursday, NM State will tangle with either Penn or Utah State as it continues its three-game run at the Myrtle Beach Invitational. Tip-off time will be either 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. MT from inside the HTC Center.