NMSU set to play Auburn in NCAA Tournament

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The 12th-seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team puts its 19-game winning-streak on the line as it opens first-round action of the NCAA Tournament against the fifth-seeded Auburn Tigers this Thursday, March 21, at 11:30 a.m. on TNT inside Vivint Smart Home Arena to kick off March Madness.

Andrew Catalon (@AndrewCatalon) will have call on the national broadcast with Steve Lappas (@stlappas) serving as the analyst and Lisa Byington (@LisaByington) reporting from the sidelines.

The University of Utah, who is the tournament host, has created a tournament central page for fans that will be making the trip to Salt Lake City.

WHERE TO WATCH

Aggie fans can catch first-round action of the NCAA Tournament on TNT or via live-stream with a paid cable subscription. The game can also be watched on your mobile or tablet device, Amazon devices, FireTV, ROKU and on Xbox One with the NCAA March Madness Live app.

Channel Finder: Click here

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 make it to Thursday’s first-round action can catch the game by listening to NM State Athletics/US Bank Hall of Famer Jack Nixon 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 addition, Sirius Ch. 137 and XM Ch. 203 will have John Sadak (@johnsadak) on the national radio call via Westwood One alongside Dan Dickau (@dandickau21). A live radio-stream of the game by Westwood One of every game from Salt Lake City can be heard by clicking here or by going to www.ncaa.com/marchmadnesslive.

AGGIE NCAA HISTORY

Thursday’s battle between the fifth-seeded Auburn Tigers will be New Mexico State’s 22nd all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies are 7-23 all-time in the Big Dance with all seven of their wins coming from 1968-70. The last NM State win in the tournament came against St. Bonaventure in the NCAA Consolation game, 79-73, during its Final Four run in 1969-70.

*Note: NM State had to vacate wins from 1991-94, including a 3-3 mark in the NCAA Tournament during those years. If counted, it would NM State’s 25th NCAA Tournament appearance with a 10-25 all-time record with its last tournament victory coming against Nebraska (97-79) in 1993.

NM State has now made an NCAA Tournament appearance in eight of the last 10 years. This will be New Mexico State’s third time playing an NCAA Tournament game in Salt Lake City with an overall record of 1-1. The Aggies first appearance came in 1968 when they defeated Weber State 68-57 in the opening round. The other appearance came in 1991 when the sixth-seeded Aggies were upset by the 11th-seeded Bluejays of Creighton 64-56.

In the last 10 losses for NM State in the Big Dance, two have come by single digits. Those two single-digit losses came against No. 13 San Diego State (73-69 OT) in 2014 and No. 12 Michigan State in 2010, 70-67.

AGAINST ALL ODDS

Heading into Thursday’s contest, the 12th-seed has gone 74-159 all-time since 1979 and have won at least one tournament game in 12 of the last 15 years. When looking at the opening game of the tournament, 12-seeds are 38-78 all-time while three of the last six 12/5 upsets have come in overtime.

Heading into this year’s tournament, here’s a list of 12-seeds that got the upper-hand against their opponents in recent years…

2017: Middle Tennessee > Minnesota 81-72

2016: UALR > Purdue 85-83 (OT2)

2016: Yale > Baylor 79-75

2015: None

2014: Harvard > Cincinnati 61-57

2014: North Dakota State > Oklahoma 80-75 (OT)

2014: Stephen F. Austin > VCU 77-75 (OT)

Technically speaking, NM State is 2-3 all-time when playing as the 12-seed. However, three of those five games occurred during the 1991-92 season that was vacated by the NCAA. Thus, leaving NM State 0-2 as the 12-seed. The first in 2010 against Michigan State – a 70-67 affair in favor of the Spartans in Spokane, Wash., thanks to a lane violation down the stretch that Aggie fans still remember negatively. The second came just last season when Chris Jans’ team lost to Clemson 79-68 in San Diego, Calif.

WACTION IN THE BIG DANCE

With the current makeup of the Western Athletic Conference, only three different teams have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in NM State (22), Seattle U (11) and CSU Bakersfield (1) while the Aggies and ‘Runners are the only teams to have advanced to the tournament as a member of the WAC.

When the Aggies take the court on Friday, it’ll be the 94th time a WAC team has played in the NCAA Tournament.

The WAC is 20-40 all-time in the tournament. Here’s how WAC teams have been seeded the last 10 years…

2019: NM State – 12 seed

2018: NM State – 12 seed

2017: NM State – 14 seed

2016: CSU Bakersfield – 15 seed

2015: NM State – 15 seed

2014: NM State – 13 seed

2013: NM State – 13 seed

2012: NM State – 13 seed

2011: Utah State – 12 seed

2010: NM State – 12 seed | Utah State (at-large) – 12 seed

WAR EAGLE

Thursday’s first-round meeting in the NCAA Tournament between the Aggies and Tigers of Auburn will be the first time the programs have met on the court. Auburn enters the Big Dance 26-9 overall after winning four games in four days in the SEC Tournament to claim an automatic bid.

The Tigers, who were ranked No. 22/18, defeated then eight-ranked Tennessee 84-64 just before Selection Sunday for their eight-straight win of the season. Auburn finished the regular-season tied for fourth-place with South Carolina behind LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Bryce Brown, who leads the team with 15.8 points, earned Second-Team All-SEC honors. Teammate Jared Harper also garnered second-team honors after averaging 15.2 points, which is good for second on the team, and a team-high 5.8 assists average. Chuma Okeke rounds out the list of double-digit scorers for Auburn with 11.7 points per game while also averaging 6.8 rebounds. The three of them have started in all 35 games for the Tigers as well.

The Tigers will have experience on their hands, having played eight teams that are in the NCAA Tournament – including five from league play. In addition, Auburn’s roster will boast 13 upperclassmen and only five underclassmen with a breakdown of four seniors, eight juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.

Nationally, Auburn is third in the NCAAs in 3-point field-goal attempts with 1,052 so far on the year. Its 169 total blocks was good enough for eight in the county while the 4.8 blocked shots per game is ranked 18th. In addition, the team’s 11.5 scoring margin checks in at No. 22. Meanwhile, Auburn’s 9.4 swipes per game is good for fourth-best in the nation. The Tigers lead the country 396 made 3-pointers while also being fourth in the country when it comes to 3-pointers made per game (11.3). Auburn is also ranked second in total steals (330), third in turnover margin (5.5) and turnovers force (17.60).

BASKETBALL IN OUR BLOOD

Heading to this week’s action of games, only 24 out of 353 Division I schools have both its men’s and women’s team going to the Big Dance. Of those 24, only New Mexico State, Belmont, UCF, Gonzaga, Marquette, Buffalo and Abilene Christian are non-traditional Power 5 schools.

THE BIG 30

With the win over Grand Canyon in the WAC Tournament Championship, NM State enters the NCAA Tournament with 30 wins under its belt and is joined bust just Buffalo (31), Houston (31), Gonzaga (30) and UC Irvine.

WAC TITLE REWIND

After a slow start to the game that saw New Mexico State go down 8-0 against Grand Canyon in the WAC Tournament Championship game. However, the Aggies were able to weather the storm and scored on four-straight possessions, three of which came from Ivan Aurrecoechea to bring the Aggies within 18-14 of GCU at the 11:12 media break.

Another 12-3 run by the Aggies gave them the 26-21 lead and forced the Lopes to call a timeout with 8:43 left in the first half. During the rally back, NM State scored on 9-of-10 consecutive possessions before JoJo Zamora missed a 3-pointer with the shot-clock expiring at the 7:55 mark.

The second-half started off in a hurry for both teams, exchanging blows on the offensive end before GCU went on a 6-0 spurt to close within 49-40 at the 16:07 mark.

However, that was the last fight the Lopes had in them as staunch defense and an offensive clinic by the Aggies saw NM State essentially put the game away with a 27-8 run entering the 7:36 media break with a 76-48 advantage before finishing blowout win 89-57.

Queen finished the night with a career-high 27 points on 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point land, four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Meanwhile, Aurrecoechea added 16 points of his own on 7-of-9 shooting with seven boards. Clayton Henry rounded out the list of players in double-figures with 14 points on 4-of-7 from downtown.

Queen was named WAC Tournament MVP after averaging 13.0 points and 3.0 rebounds with a .538 shooting clip from the field with eight triples. However, it was his dominating performance against GCU in the final that catapulted him to the top of the list. Teammate Terrell Brown was also named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 13.7 points with nine 3-pointers and a .643 clip from beyond the arc.

MONEY FROM 3

After the dust settled in #WACvegas, New Mexico State left Orleans Arena with a few broken records.

New Record

Largest Margin of Victory: 37 points | NM State 86 – Chicago State 49

Championship Game Margin of Victory: 32 points | NM State 89 – Grand Canyon 57

3FGM in a Game: 17 | NM State vs. Grand Canyon

3FGA in a Game: 39 | NM State vs. Grand Canyon

3FGM in a Tournament: 39

3FGA in a Tournament: 102

Old Record

Largest Margin of Victory: 36 | 1995 – Utah 86 – New Mexico 50

Championship Game Margin of Victory: 25 points | NM State 82 – La. Tech 57

3FGM in a Game: 15 | 1997 – Colorado State vs. SMU

3FGA in a Game: 33 | 2001 – Hawaii vs. Tulsa

3FGM in a Tournament: 32 | 2018 – NM State

3FGA in a Tournament: 72 | Boise State (2015) & Hawaii (2001)

UP NEXT

Should New Mexico State pull off the 12/5 upset against Auburn, the Aggies would play the winner between fourth-seeded Kansas and 13th-seeded Northeastern on Saturday, March 23. Time and TV info is to be determined after the completion of first-round action on Thursday.

LOOKING AHEAD

Should NM State get out of the first two rounds of action, it’ll return to a familiar venue in the Sprint Center for the Sweet 16 (March 29) and Elite 8 (March 31) regional rounds.

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