NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTSM) – After its worst loss in nearly a decade on Thursday, New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans said the last 48 hours were miserable.
Fortunately for the Aggies, they rebounded in a big way on Saturday. NMSU went on the road to Stephen F. Austin and came away with a 72-58 victory to improve to 16-3, 6-1 in the WAC.
The win came two days after NMSU lost by 25 points at Sam Houston, their first loss by 20 or more points in WAC play in nearly 10 years. It also snapped the Aggies’ 10-game winning streak.
Teddy Allen played 36 minutes off the bench, scoring 26 points; Jabari Rice added 21 points for the Aggies, to go with eight rebounds and four assists.
“In the manner we lost, it was a gut punch. We got exposed and some of our warts were shown to everyone. It was humbling,” said Jans after Saturday’s win. “We had some really good responses, certainly as a team but also as individuals.”
“Rebound” was the word of the day for NMSU, both figuratively and literally. The Aggies out-rebounded the Lumberjacks (12-7, 4-3 WAC) 47-29, including 18 on the offensive glass that led to 21 second chance points.
Jans has been looking for NMSU to rebound better all season long; they finally did it Saturday and perhaps Thursday’s showing vs. Sam Houston was a wake-up call the Aggies needed.
“Ultimately we needed to lose that game to come together and just figure out the big under-current problem. Today we played like we did two years ago so it was fun to see us get back to playing Aggie basketball,” said Rice.
As it stands right now, the Aggies are in third place in the WAC standings, behind Seattle and Sam Houston. Jans said they brought up the conference race before the game as a way to fire up the Aggies.
“The last thing I talked about before we went on the court was, ‘who are we?’ We need to play like it not talk about it,” Jans said. “Let our play speak for ourselves and it was a crucial game. We talked about the conference race and how important this game was to get our swag and our mojo back.”
The win comes at a crucial time for NMSU; the Aggies will now be off for a week before what is always one of the biggest games of the season.
NMSU will host WAC rival Grand Canyon next Saturday, Jan. 29 in Las Cruces at 7 p.m.