LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Revenge is on the mind of the New Mexico State (NMSU) men’s basketball team when they host Grand Canyon (GCU) on Saturday night at the Pan American Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Aggies lost all three meetings to the Antelopes last season, including the WAC Tournament championship game. Prior to last season, NMSU head coach Chris Jans was 8-0 against the Lopes.

“[Those three losses] were a tough pill to swallow for me, our staff and the program in general, because we hadn’t lost to them since we arrived,” said Jans. “We were 8-0 against them.”

Saturday’s game will be the 21st meeting between GCU and NMSU, with the Aggies holding the all-time series advantage, 15-5. However, as the saying goes, it’s all about what have you done for me lately.

“Last year we were unfortunate to get beat by them three times,” said senior forward Johnny McCants. “I’m looking forward to getting revenge. That’s probably one of the big reasons I came back was to at least get revenge for the championship game, and to play in the championship again. I’m just looking forward to the game now.”

GCU dropped back-to-back road games against Stephen F. Austin (SFA) and Sam Houston last week. NMSU also lost to Sam Houston last week, but bounced back with a win over SFA on Saturday. Both teams were idle on Thursday.

“This is a huge huge game,” said Jans. “They’re coming off a couple losses and I’m sure that didn’t sit well with them, and they’re looking at it as we have to have this game. We have to have the same mentality.”

Saturday’s game will stream live on ESPN+.

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GAME NOTES (Via: NM State Athletics)

THE OPENING TIP

• Two of the top four teams in the WAC standings are set to cross paths inside the Pan American Center Saturday night as NM State hosts defending league champion Grand Canyon for the first time since 2020.
• Tip-off in the 21st all-time meeting between the Aggies and Lopes is set for 7:00 p.m. The contest will be televised regionally on Comcast New Mexico as well as on tape-delay on Bally Sports Arizona. ESPN+ and the ESPN app are set to carry each and every second of the clash nationwide as well.
• The play-by-play and analysis combo of Adam Young and former NM State player Joe Garza are set to narrate the action on all television and video streaming platforms. Over the airwaves, legendary radio play-by-play man Jack Nixon will set up shop courtside to call the action.
• Nixon’s play-by-play and analysis 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 Saturday night’s tilt.
• Billed as the NM State’s White Out Game, the first 1,000 fans in attendance Saturday night will get their hands on a free NM State whiteout t-shirt.
• NM State’s coaching staff will be sporting sneakers instead of dress shoes on the sidelines for Saturday night’s showdown. As part of Suits and Sneakers week across college basketball, head coach Chris Jans and company will lace up sneakers as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer series. Coaches vs. Cancer is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the NABC that empowers coaches and communities to join the fight against cancer.

FAST BREAK POINTS
• NM State sits in third place in the latest edition of the WAC standings. Seattle U (16-4, 7-0 WAC) and Sam Houston (13-9, 8-1 WAC) occupy the top two spots in the league.
• For the second time under head coach Chris Jans and for the third time in the history of the program, NM State has won 16 of its first 19 games to start the season. NM State previously started 16-3 through its first 19 games in 2017-18 and 1993-94.
• Only eight other teams in NM State history have put forth a better record than 16-3 through their first 19 games. The Aggies went 17-2 to start the year in 2016-17, 1990-91, 1989-90, 1969-70, 1968-69, 1967-68, 1938-39 and 1937-38.
• NM State’s 17 wins are the 12th-most among all NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams this season as well as the most by any WAC team.
• NM State has won its last 28 home games against WAC opponents dating back 2017. The Aggies’ last loss to a WAC team in the Pan American Center came on Feb. 23, 2017, when they dropped an 84-72 decision to Utah Valley.
• Since the start of the 2009-10 campaign, NM State owns an 83-4 (.954) record in WAC home games. Those four losses came by a combined 34 points (an average of 8.4 per game).
• NM State head coach Chris Jans is 55-10 (.846) in regular-season WAC games as the Aggies’ head coach. Included in that record is a perfect 26-0 (1.000) showing against WAC squads inside NM State’s home venue of the Pan American Center.
• NM State’s .846 winning percentage in WAC regular season games under Jans is the nation’s second-best in-conference winning percentage figure since 2017-18. Only Gonzaga’s (67-2, .971) is higher.
• With last Saturday’s win at SFA, NM State senior forward Johnny McCants overtook Ian Baker for the highest number of wins in the history the program (111). Baker, who suited up for NM State from 2014-17, amassed 110 wins through the course of his storied Aggie career.
• The last time NM State and Grand Canyon crossed paths inside the Pan American Center, the second-largest crowd to witness an Aggie men’s basketball game inside the facility arrived, too. Some 13,690 individuals packed the Pan Am and saw NM State rip Grand Canyon by a 72-52 tally. The only time a larger crowd graced NM State’s home venue came on Dec. 15, 1990, when 14,845 citizens filed in to watch NM State score a 72-64 win over in-state rival New Mexico.
• Grand Canyon is the only current WAC team who has ever defeated NM State three consecutive times. NM State has never dropped more than three games in a row against any single WAC team since joining the league ahead of the 2005-06 season. Fresno State, Nevada (twice) and Utah State are the only other current or former WAC teams who have handed NM State three consecutive losses.
• Each of the last three WAC Tournament title bouts have featured a matchup between NM State and Grand Canyon. That’s one of just two tournament championship game three-time matchup repeats in the nation, joining the three-year run of San Diego State and Utah State meeting in the Mountain West Tournament championship.
• The final 20 minutes of the game have been where the Aggies have been the most successful from a scoring standpoint this season. NM State avearges 41.0 points per game in the second half – the nation’s 19th-best mark.
• Over the course of the last four games, few players in the nation have been as lethal from behind the three-point arc than Teddy Allen. NM State’s sharpshooting guard has connected on 51.6-percent (16-of-31) of his tries from that distance since Jan. 13.
• Following a four-block performance in Nacogdoches, Texas, against SFA last Saturday, NM State senior Johnny McCants leads the WAC in blocked shots with an average of 1.59 per game.

LAST TIME OUT | NM State 72, at SFA 58 | Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022
• Coming off the bench for the first time in an NM State uniform, Teddy Allen gave fans in Texas’ oldest town their money’s worth by striking for a game-high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead NM State to a 72-58 victory over SFA in the first meeting between the two programs.
• Allen slung in a career-high seven three-pointers in the win and was aided by Jabari Rice who turned in a 21-point outing on 7-of-13 shooting. It marked the second time this season in which two NM State players went for 20 or more points in a single game.
• Three-point shooting and rebounding were two of the primary ingredients in the Aggies’ recipe for success inside William R. Johnson Coliseum. NM State canned a season-high 14 three-pointers while shooting 50-percent from long range in the process. That three-point field goal percentage was NM State’s best of the season and the eighth-best in a single game in Chris Jans‘ tenure as the Aggies’ head coach.
• Both Rice and Donnie Tillman finished with eight rebounds in the Aggies’ lopsided win. Those 16 total boards represented over one-third (34-percent) of the team’s 47 on the afternoon as the Aggies enjoyed a 47-29 (+18) edge on the glass.
• A force down low, Johnny McCants made sure nothing came easy for the ‘Jacks on their home court. The Las Cruces, N.M., product matched his career high by coming up with four of the Aggies’ six blocked shots in the victory.
• NM State moved to 24-4 (.857) in games directly following a loss in Jans’ tenure as head coach. NM State has not dropped consecutive games since suffering three-straight setbacks from Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2021.
• NM State made use of an entirely new starting lineup for the first time in 2021-22 in order to obtain victory. The Aggies’ started Clayton HenryNate Pryor, McCants, Will McNair Jr., and Rice in their inaugural showdown with the ‘Jacks.
• Though the Aggies committed 19 turnovers – their second-highest single-game total of the season and the most in a game in 2022 – they made sure SFA didn’t do a whole lot with them. The ‘Jacks finished with only 13 points off of those 19 throwaways – 22.4-percent of their total.
• SFA shot just 26.1-percent (6-of-23) from three-point range Saturday afternoon. That’s the third time in WAC play in which NM State hasn’t allowed an opponent to shoot below 27-percent from long range.

LAST TIME OUT vs. GRAND CANYON | NM State 56, GCU 74 | Saturday, March 13, 2021
• NM State scored the first four points of the game, but Grand Canyon took control from there and defeated the Aggies by a 74-56 tally in the WAC Tournament title bout.
• Jabari Rice drilled a three-pointer with 14:05 to go in the opening frame to hand NM State a 9-7 lead, but the Lopes answered with a devastating 12-0 run over the next five minutes and the Aggies never fully recovered.
• GCU’s lead dipped below double-digits just five times for the rest of the night and NM State suffered its first loss in a WAC Tournament championship game since 2016.
• Evan Gilyard II netted a team-high 18 points for the Aggies on a 6-of-13 night from the field.
• Donnie Tillman finished with 11 points and five rebounds, putting the finishing touches on a strong three-game run at the WAC Tournament. For his efforts, the Detroit, Mich., product earned a spot on the WAC All-Tournament Team.
• NM State turned in season-lows in both free throws made (seven) and free throw attempts (nine) through the 40-minute tilt.
• The loss put an end to the Aggies’ five-game winning streak. That unbeaten run was NM State’s lengthiest of a disjointed 2020-21 campaign.
• NM State head coach Chris Jans suffered the first WAC Tournament loss of his career. Jans’ record in WAC Tournament tilts now sits at 8-1.
• Of the 12 players who logged minutes in the WAC Tournament title game, just five remain on the team’s 2021-22 roster.

SCOUTING GRAND CANYON | ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS
• Finally breaking through to the NCAA Tournament last season, Grand Canyon is hoping for a repeat trip to the big dance as well as a repeat of its WAC regular-season and tournament championships one season ago. Saturday night’s showdown will unquestionably loom large for the Lopes as they take aim at all three of those goals in Bryce Drew’s second season in command.
• A clash between the WAC’s two top teams in terms of NET ranking and KenPom ranking, defense and rebounding have been the calling cards of the Lopes as they hope to win their fourth-straight against NM State. Grand Canyon leads the WAC and ranks eighth nationally in crashing the glass, grabbing rebounds at a clip of 41.6 per game.
• The Lopes’ 13.94 offensive boards per outing and their rebounding margin of +8.8 are both top marks in the WAC as well as ninth among all NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams.
• Shutting off the three-point line has been paramount for Grand Canyon this season and it has been doing so on a consistent basis. GCU ranks second in the nation in opponent three-point field goal percentage, letting foes connect on just 26.1-percent of their tries from long range in 2021-22.
• Because of their strong perimeter defense, the Lopes rank 14th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (38.2-percent) and 17th in scoring defense (60.2 opponent points per game).
• Overall, it’s a team effort when it comes to rebounding as just one GCU player – Gabe McGlothan – ranks among the top ten players in the WAC in terms of rebounds per game. His figure of 6.3 per outing is the eighth-best in the WAC.
• Offensively, Jovan Blacksher Jr., is the engine that makes the Lopes go. Pumping in points at a rate of 17.1 per game (fourth-best in the WAC), Blacksher Jr., also tops the team’s charts in both assists per game (4.1), assist-to-turnover ratio (2.09) and three-point field goal percentage (.450). No player in the WAC owns a better long-range accuracy rate than Blacksher Jr.
• The Lopes’ second leading scorer is Holland Woods II as he averages 12.3 points per game.
• Grand Canyon is going in search of the program’s first-ever victory inside the Pan American Center. The Lopes are 0-8 all-time against the Aggies’ in the Land of Enchantment.

THIS DATE IN NM STATE HISTORY
• Exactly one year ago, NM State and Grand Canyon hooked up inside GCU Arena in Phoenix, Ariz. The result was a 70-62 win for Grand Canyon, a victory which snapped NM State’s WAC record 31-game regular-season winning streak.
• That setback also put an end to NM State’s streak of 34 consecutive games won against WAC opponents.
• NM State is 2-1 in WAC games played on this date.
• NM State’s first game on this date came in 1929 – a 23-16 win at New Mexico Military Institute.

COMING UP NEXT
• The midway point of NM State’s second – and final – three-game home stand in 2021-22 is set for Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. as WAC foe California Baptist visits the Pan American Center for the first time since March 5, 2020. The lone regular-season showdown between the Aggies and Lancers will be televised on Bally Sports Arizona and Comcast New Mexico in addition to a nationwide stream on ESPN+ and the ESPN app.