LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – New Mexico State cruised past Sul Ross 84-49 on Wednesday night to earn its first win of the Jason Hooten era.
277 days since the Aggies’ last home game at the Pan American Center, a new-look NMSU roster – rebuilt by Hooten and his staff after the 2022-23 season was shut down on Feb. 12 and former Greg Heiar fired following hazing and sexual assault allegations – took the floor in front of 4,507 fans against a Division III opponent.
Jordan Rawls led NMSU in scoring with 15 points, as five Aggies eclipsed the double-digit scoring threshold. Rawls was joined in that category by Jaden Harris, Kaosi Ezeagu, Monzy Jackson and Keylon Dorsey.
The win came 48 hours after a season-opening loss on the road to Kentucky, after which NMSU had a myriad of travel issues getting back home to Las Cruces to play the game.
“There were a lot of reasons I though we were a little bit sluggish early, but you have to give Sul Ross a lot of credit, they hit a lot of threes,” Hooten said. “We finally clamped down and I was very happy with the way we finished.”
NMSU resumed competition inside the Pan American Center for the first time since the university canceled the remainder of last season on Feb. 12 after the filing of a police report alleging gruesome locker-room hazing. Coach Greg Heiar was fired soon after. A former player, Mike Peake, was suspended in connection with a fatal shooting of a student in Albuquerque last Nov. 19 in an unrelated incident but was not charged.
Then, on Monday, two former NMSU players and a student manager filed a lawsuit in district court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, saying teammates frequently brought guns into the locker room where they sexually assaulted players as a way of ensuring everyone on the team remained “humble.”
New Mexico State (1-1) will return to action on Saturday on the road against UC-Irvine, looking for its first win over a Division I program under Hooten.