LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – The New Mexico State men’s basketball team played host to Southern for its second home game of the season and third overall on Thursday night inside the Pan American Center. After taking a three-point edge at the 9:49 mark of the first half, the Aggies never looked back holding a lead until the final buzzer to defeat the Jaguars, 79-63.
“The goal was to win the game and after our last outing we certainly weren’t very pleased,” said head coach Chris Jans. “We had a quick turnaround with a one-day prep, which isn’t too common this early in the season, so we were happy to get a win.”
NM State (2-1) started slow in the Thursday night clash, allowing Southern (1-2) to get the first points on the board and the Aggies remained scoreless for the first 4:47 of play. Jabari Rice then got things going offensively and an inbound alley-oop to Trevelin Queen gave the Aggies their first lead early in the contest.
The Jaguars countered this play with an 8-0 run that then put the Crimson & White behind 11-8. This would be the final lead the opposition would get, however, as NM State went on a run of their own with 11-straight points to carry a 19-11 advantage into the media timeout with 8:00 left to go in the first half.
Southern hoped to climb back into the contest with a couple of quick baskets, including one three-pointer, but NM State continued to apply pressure on both ends of the floor. This led to the Jaguars getting into foul trouble to reach the bonus that sent the Aggies to the line. After knocking down four-straight free throws, NM State finished the half with a pair of baskets to carry a 30-25 lead into the locker rooms at the end of the first 20 minutes of action.
In the opening of the second half the Aggies continued to take it to the Jaguars scoring the first eight points to increase the team’s lead. After Southern knocked down its first basket 3:04 into the half, NM State continued to stifle the opposition and increase the team’s advantage to 46-31 at the media timeout with 11:48 left in the game.
Play by the opposition picked up with under seven minutes to go, cutting the lead for the Crimson & White to just six points with 3:10 left in the contest. Shawn Williams then knocked down his fourth triple of the game and the Aggies closed out the night on a 15-5 run to defeat the Jaguars, 79-63.
At the end of the night, NM State saw three players hit double figures in scoring, led by Queen who had 20 points, followed by Ivan Aurrecoechea with 19 and Williams finished with 17. The Aggies outscored the Jaguars on fast breaks, 10-2, and also saw turnovers by the opposition turn into 18 points for the home team in the victory.
New Mexico State now looks to carry this momentum on to the road as the team faces a tough challenge taking on No. 19 Arizona on Sunday in the McKale Center. Tip-off is schedule for 12 p.m. MT.