NMSU men’s basketball team to square off against No. 2 Kansas Saturday night

Sports

All eyes will be on the New Mexico State men’s basketball team come Saturday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m. (MT) when the Aggies take the court against No. 2/2 Kansas at the Sprint Center on ESPN2.

Mark Neely will have the call on Saturday’s match-up against the Jayhawks while former Mizzou guard Jon Sundvold (@JonSundvold) serves as the analyst. Fans can also watch the game on the mobile or tablet device using the WatchESPN app with a paid cable subscription in addition to the online stream.

GET CONNECTED

Get up to the minute information and news about the NM State men’s basketball team all season long on Twitter and Instagram by following @NMStateMBB and on Facebook at FB.com/NMStateMBB.

LISTEN UP!

Aggie fans that can’t watch the nationally televised game on ESPN2 can catch the game by listening to NM State Athletics/US Bank Hall of Famer Jack Nixon and former Aggie Justin Hawkins on 99.5 Zia Country and affiliate stations on the Aggie Sports Network listed below or via TuneIn.

Alamogordo                       103.7 FM KNMZ

Albuquerque                      1150 AM KNMM

Carlsbad                               1240 AM KAMQ

El Paso                                  1380 AM KHEY

Gallup                                   1230 AM, 94.9 FM KYVA

Las Vegas                             107.1 FM KMDS

IN THE NATION

Heading into Saturday’s game, the Aggies as a team are ranked in the top-25 nationally in a trio of categories through games on Wednesday, Dec. 5…

Category                      National Rank               Value

Turnovers per Game        22nd                                      10.8

Rebounding Margin         22nd                                     8.5

Win-Percentage                25th                                      87.5

ROCK CHALK TALK

Heading into Saturday’s game, NM State trails the all-time series with Kansas 3-0 going 0-2 in true road games at Allen Fieldhouse and 0-1 in a neutral game in 2015 against KU in the opening-round of the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash.

The Jayhawks, who opened the season as the top-ranked team in the country, has since stayed at the No. 2/2 spot in the Associated Press Poll. Kansas enters this weekend 7-0 on the year and 3-0 on neutral courts, despite the Sprint Center less than 50 miles from Allen Fieldhouse. NM State has faced off against a No. 2 ranked team six times since the 1949-50 campaign and have gone 0-6 in those games.

Kansas taken down a pair of AP Top-10 opponents so far this year. The first top-10 victory came against then-No. 10 Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic 92-87 before outlasting then-No. 5 Tennessee 87-81 in overtime for the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament Championship.

The Jayhawks boast a roster with four players averaging in double-figures and led by Dedric Lawson, who is averaging a double-double with 19 points and 10.7 rebounds on the season to go with his team-high 22 assists. Lagerald Vick isn’t far behind Lawson, checking in with 17.9 points per game. Udoka Azubuike is averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 boards for KU while Devon Dotson rounds out the list of double-digit scorers with 11.4 points per game. Unfortunately for KU and fortunately for NM State, Azubuike recent went down with a high-ankle sprain in its latest game at home against Wofford.

NM State will have its hands full Saturday with Lawson, who is the nation’s fourth-leading player in double-doubles with 40 while his 9.7 career rebounds is good for third-best amongst active players. His 17.6 points per game ranks him 20th while his 699 rebounds is 21st on the active players list. Defensively, his 1.81 blocks average is also 22nd best among active players in the NCAA.

AGAINST THE RANKS

Should the Aggies find a way to upset No. 2/2 Kansas on Saturday, it would the first time in program history NM State has beaten an AP Top-10 team in back-to-back seasons after taking down then-No. 6/7 Miami last season in the semifinals of the 2017 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

The last time NM State defeated an AP Top-15 team in consecutive years occurred during the 1980-81 and 1981-82 campaigns. The Aggies first took down No. 14 Wichita State 82-60 before defeating No. 10 Tulsa 74-66.

CENTURY MARKED

For the first time this season, the Aggies hit the century mark in the scoring column this past Tuesday against Battle of I-25 rival New Mexico. The 100-65 thumping of their rivals was the first time the Aggies have hit the century mark since beating UT Rio Grande Valley on the road 107-101 on Feb. 18, 2017.

RIVALRY DOMINANCE

This past Tuesday’s 100-65 victory over Battle of I-25 rival New Mexico was the third-largest margin of victory for New Mexico State at home. It was also the first 30-plus point victory for the Aggies since 2006 over the Lobos.

Date                         Score        Margin of Victory        

Feb. 21, 1919            W, 85-26      59

Feb. 10, 1939            W, 57-20      37

Dec. 4, 2018             W, 100-65     35

Dec. 5, 2006             W, 103-73     31

LAST TIME OUT

New Mexico State was in mid-season form this past Tuesday when it hosted Battle of I-25 rival New Mexico inside the Pan American Center. Both offense and defense ran so well for the Aggies that it demolished the Lobos 100-65 on Lou Henson Court for their third-largest margin of victory ever at home.

The Aggies were paced by a trio of Aggies in JoJo Zamora, Ivan Aurrecoechea and Eli Chuha. Zamora, who was red-hot from beyond the arc, posted a season-high 27 points thanks to a 6-for-6 night from downtown while going 9-of-10 overall. Joining in on the scoring fun was Ivan Aurrecoechea, who also had a season high 23 points with 11 rebounds on 6-of-7 shooting. The 6-8 Spaniard also went 11-of-15 from the line to record his first Division I double-double. Eli Chuha also picked up a double-double against the Lobos, scoring 13 points with 10 rebounds.

AJ Harris chipped in with nine points and six assists while Shunn Buchanan added five assists of his own. Lastly, Las Cruces native Johnny McCants went for seven points and nine rebounds as well.

The win moved Aggie head coach Chris Jans to 8-0 in his career against rivals and became the first head coach in NM State history to sweep both UNM and UTEP in back-to-back seasons in his first two years at the helm. Jerry Hines is the only coach in Aggie history to sweep both rivals in back-to-back season (1936-38, 1937-39). New Mexico State’s win also tied the program record for the third-longest win-streak against Battle of I-25 rival at five-straight (1954-56).

UP NEXT

New Mexico State now returns home to the friendly confines of the Pan American Center where it’ll welcomes Northern Colorado (Dec. 17) and CSUN (Dec. 19) as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic Tournament. Both games are slated to tip-off at 7 p.m. (MT).

LOOKING AHEAD

The Aggies will have a quick turnaround after the two host-site rounds of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Class Tournament. NM State will head straight to Sin City after hosting CSUN to finish out the tournament at Orleans Arena. New Mexico State is slated to take on Drake on Saturday, Dec. 22, at 5:30 p.m. (MT) before taking either Washington State or San Diego on Sunday, Dec. 23.

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