Arizona races past New Mexico State, 83-53

NMSU

TUSCON, AZ (KTSM) – Staring a 10-point deficit squarely in the face after the game’s first 3:45, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team used a 12-5 run powered by the play of senior Trevelin Queen to cut No. 19 Arizona’s lead down to three, but the Wildcats answered with a 28-9 run to end the first half and walked away with an 83-53 victory Sunday afternoon at the McKale Center. 

Size and shooting were the Wildcats’ biggest advantages as freshman Zeke Nnaji finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-7 shooting to lead the Wildcats. Arizona shot 52.6-percent (30-of-57) from the field compared to a 32.7-percent (18-of-55) clip by the Aggies.

FIRST HALF
• Smacked with a 10-0 Arizona run through the game’s first 3:45, the Aggies turned to Queen to power their comeback bid. The senior put in the first of his four first-half buckets on an acrobatic layup in traffic to get the visitors on the board with 14:41 to go in the frame. 
• Queen’s score served as a rallying cry to his compatriots as New Mexico State took off on a 12-3 run over a span of 3:08 to cut the Wildcats’ double-digit lead down to just three. 
• A pair of triples courtesy of Queen bookended a powerful flush by Johnny McCants at the 12:05 mark, and Queen’s second long-range hit pulled his squad within 15-12 with 11:33 left. 
• Regrettably, that was as close as the Aggies would come to grabbing the lead. Using a deadly combination of speed, shooting and inside play, Arizona closed out the half on a 28-9 run to take a 43-21 lead into the locker room at the break. 
• Shawn Williams canned a corner three to cap a 5-0 run during the Wildcats’ big-time surge to end the half. That triple pulled New Mexico State within 11, 32-21, but Arizona answered by scoring the final 11 points of the half to open up a 21-point lead. 
• Arizona scorched the nets in the first 20 minutes of action, putting up shooting splits of .581/.571/1.000 compared to the Aggies’ percentages of .308/.273/.667. Arizona leaned heavily on the play of star freshman Nnaji who poured in 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting through the frame. Jemari Baker, Jr., added 10 while Queen countered with 10 for the Aggies.

SECOND HALF
• Hoping to start the second half strong, the Aggies did just that as Ivan Aurrecoechea converted a layup 30 seconds in that cut the Wildcats’ edge down to 20. The senior’s inside score started a 3-0 surge for the visitors, but again Arizona answered. 
• Nico Mannion canned a pair of downtown buckets on back-to-back Wildcat possessions to put the finishing touches on a 13-3 run by the hosts that left New Mexico State at a 56-27 disadvantage with 16:09 left. 
• The Wildcats’ lead grew to 30 when Mannion struck for a mid-range jumper that made matters 58-28 with 14:42 remaining. Arizona’s edge fluctuated between 33 and 27 points for the remainder of the tilt.
• A second-half outburst by Rice helped the Aggies try to keep pace with Arizona. All 14 of the guard’s points came through the final 13 minutes of action.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• Rice led all Aggie scorers, putting in a team-high 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting. The redshirt sophomore drilled a career-high four three-pointers in the setback, putting fourth his second multi-three outing of the season in the process. 
• Queen finished with 12 and a team-high seven rebounds for the Aggies who dropped their sixth in a row to Arizona. 
• A trio of players finished with 15 or more points to pace the Wildcats. That group was led by Nnaji and his game-high 19. Baker, Jr., put in 16 while Mannion finished with 15 to round out the Wildcats’ top three scorers. 
• For the game, the Wildcats shot .526/.476/.867 and finished with a +12 edge in shots made over the Aggies. 

COMING UP NEXT
• Back inside the Pan Am Center for the final time this month, the Aggies turn their attention to the first of two 2019-20 showdowns in the Battle of I-25. At 7:00 p.m., Thursday night, New Mexico State hosts in-state and Mountain West Conference adversary New Mexico with state bragging rights on the line.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Local Sports

More Local Sports