The New Mexico State men's basketball team defeated Texas State, 74-65, in the WAC Tournament semifinals. The Aggies play the winner of the UT Arlington-UTSA game, Saturday, March 16 at 9 p.m. on ESPNU, in their second consecutive conference tournament title game appearance.
The Aggies (23-10) had four players in double figures with freshman center Sim Bhullar leading the way with his second career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Junior forward Renaldo Dixon tied a career-high mark with 13 points. Sophomore guard K.C. Ross-Miller added 12 points, which is his fifth double-figure scoring game of the season. Off the bench, sophomore forward Remi Barry contributed 11 points.
As a team, the Aggies shot 49 percent from the field (24-of-49) with Dixon (5-of-8), Bhullar (5-of-7) and Barry (5-of-7) all shooting better than 60 percent.
At halftime, the Aggies had a 41-32 advantage behind a game-high 12 points from Dixon. He was 5-of-5 in the first half to help NM State shoot 53.6 percent from the field (15-of-28). Bhullar also shot the ball well and was 4-of-5 for nine points along with five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
NM State led from the tip and it was a tightly contested game until the Aggies utilized a 13-3 run. The run gave NM State a 37-25 lead at 3:30, when senior forward Bandja Sy made 1-of-2 free throws.
The rally started with 3-pointer in the corner from sophomore guard Terrel de Rouen for a five-point lead, 27-22, at 6:42. The Aggies posted their first double-digit lead of the game on a bucket from Dixon at the 3:53 mark for a 36-25 lead. The Aggies held Texas State to 38.5 shooting (10-of-26) and a 1-of-6 performance from the 3-point line in the first half.
Early in the second half, the Aggies scored 10 unanswered points for a 16-point lead, 51-35, their largest lead of the contest, at 15:15.
Ross-Miller started the run with five straight points, a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. After a free throw from Bhullar, the Aggies scored on back-to-back layups from sophomore guard Daniel Mullings and Barry.
Texas State chipped away at the Aggie advantage and cut it to five 55-50 after two free throws at 9:22. NM State answered with two free throws from Bhullar, before the Bobcats trimmed it to five points once again, 57-52, with 7:16 to play.
Junior guard Kevin Aronis came off the bench to sink a 3-pointer for a 60-52 lead at the 6:48 mark. Barry then hit three straight shots to extend the Aggie lead back to double-digits, 66-56, with 3:11 remaining, but Texas State couldn't close the gap to less than eight points.