Las Cruces, NM — The New Mexico State men’s basketball team (11-5) opens the 2014 Western Athletic Conference season taking on Grand Canyon (5-8) in Phoenix, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 4. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (MT). Fans can listen to the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. with the Hall of Famer ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon on KGRT 103.9 FM in Las Cruces.
The Aggies return home and play WAC foe Seattle U, Thursday, Jan. 9 in the Pan American Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (MT) and is scheduled to air on the radio with ‘Voice of the Aggies’ and Hall of Famer, Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play action. The game will also be televised on AggieVision. Please check with your local cable or satellite provider for show times in your area. NM State follows that game with another home game on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. For tickets to the games call the Pan American Center ticket office at 575-646-1420.
Fans and media can access post-game video interviews with head coach Marvin Menzies and selected players after each game on-line at www.NMStateSports.com  by clicking on the game recap.
About the Aggies
The Aggies head into the 2014 Western Athletic Conference season with an overall record of 11-5 on the season. NM State is riding a four-game win streak heading into Saturday’s game against Grand Canyon. The Aggies are 6-1 in the Pan American Center this year while going 4-3 on the road.
As a team, the Aggies are averaging 76.6 points per game, outscoring their opponents by an average of 8.4 points per game. NM State is shooting 48.0 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 69.4 percent from the free throw line. On the boards, NM State is pulling down 37.2 rebounds a game, while recording 5.9 blocks, 4.9 steals and 12.8 assists a game. Five Aggies are shooting over 80 percent from the charity stripe.
Daniel Mullings leads the Aggies with 16.7 points per game, shooting 46.6 percent from the field. He also leads the Aggies in steals with 27. Sim Bhullar is shooting a team leading 67.0 percent from the floor, while also leading the team in rebounds (118) and blocks (53). K.C. Ross-Miller leads the squad with 62 assists after he posted a career-high 10 assists against South Alabama last week. He also leads the team at the free throw line shooting a team-best 89.7 percent at the free throw line. DK Eldridge is hot from the 3-point line, making 45.7 percent of his attempts, while Renaldo Dixon is second on the team at the free throw line, knocking down 83.3 percent of his attempts.
Aggies against Grand Canyon
This will be the second meeting between the Aggies and Grand Canyon University. The only other time the two teams met was back in Jan. 1984 when the Aggies beat the ‘Lopes 75-60 in the Pan American Center. Former Aggie guard Elston Jones led the way with 14 points during that game while Frank Rodriguez and Wendall Wright added 10 points each.
Scouting the ‘Lopes
Grand Canyon is 5-8 heading into the weekend and play its first ever WAC game against Texas-Pan American, Thursday, Jan. 2 in Phoenix. The Antelopes were sitting at .500 on the year but lost their last three non-conference games of the year. GCU lost to Aggie-rival New Mexico 80-68 before falling to Tennessee-Chattanooga 69-64 and Middle Tennessee 79-65.
GCU is averaging 70.5 points per game and scored a season-high 91 points against Western New Mexico on Nov. 16. The Antelopes are hitting 34 percent of their 3-pointers and are averaging 6.2 per game.
Forward Daniel Alexander leads the ‘Lopes with 11.8 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game. Killian Larson, who has started in all games for GCU this season, has tallied 10 double-doubles this year with his 10 coming against Middle Tennessee when he scored 22 points and grabbed 14 boards.
Aggies in WAC Play
NM State opens the 2014 league season 86-42 since joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2005. The first ever WAC game NM State played was on Jan. 5, 2006 as the Aggies defeated Idaho 62-52 in Moscow, Idaho. NM State has won four WAC Tournament titles since joining the league and was also the regular season Co-Champion in 2008.
NM State posted 14 league wins last year, which is the most for the Aggies since joining the league. The Aggies lost four conference games last season, all on the road. Head coach Marvin Menzies heads into the weekend with a 64-30 WAC record.
NM State in Mid-Major Poll
The NM State men’s basketball team moved up four spots in the last CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll to No. 12. The Aggies had 417 points in the poll, while Wichita State is No. 1 in the poll. Aggie opponent, Gonzaga in No. 4 in the poll and Drake is No. 23.
Aggies on the Road
NM State is 4-3 on the road this season after winning its first two road games and last two as well. The Aggies defeated Hawai’i 95-88 on Nov. 12 and UTEP 77-68 on Nov. 23. NM State recently beat Drake in overtime 81-69, Dec. 14 then went on to defeat UNM 67-61 in The Pit.
The Aggies are shooting 45 percent from the field while hitting 43.1 percent of 3-point shots on the road. Junior guard KC Ross-Miller is averaging 30.9 minutes per game on the road and is one of three Aggies marking double-digit scoring figures. Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads the way with 16.9 points per game in road games and center Sim Bhullar is putting in 10 points per game.
Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is marking 8.7 points per game on the road and junior guard DK Eldridge is posting 9.1 points per game. Eldridge had a memorable road game against Colorado State when he helped NM State to make it an interesting game against Colorado State on Nov. 30 in Fort Collins, Colo. Eldridge and the Aggies were down 77-68 with 1:41 left on the clock but stayed in the game hitting tough shots, which included a fall-away three pointer from Eldridge, who finished the evening going 6-of-6 from behind the three point arc. Eldridge walked off the court posting a career-high 23 points against CSU.
Aggies in the WAC
Of the nine teams in the Western Athletic Conference, the Aggies have the best record at 11-5, while Seattle U is the only other WAC team with a winning record at 8-4.
NM State leads the league in many different statistical categories individually. Center Sim Bhullar, is first overall in field goal percentage at 67.0 and blocked shots with a staggering 3.31 blocks per game, which is 1.93 above anyone else in the WAC. Bhullar also stands up to the competition by ranking third in rebounds, with 41 offensively.
Daniel Mullings is in the top 10 in scoring (No. 3), assists (No. 5), steals (No. 5), assist/turnover ratio (No. 5) and minutes played (No. 2). Ross-Miller is also in the top 10 for assists (No. 3) free throw percentage (No. 2) and assist-turnover ratio (No. 2).
Mullings is the highest ranking Aggie in scoring (third), steals (fifth), and minutes played (second), while for free throw percentages, Ross-Miller places in second in the league with a 89.7 percentage recorded.
Kevin Aronis is in the top 10 for 3-pointers made and DK Eldridge is in the top 10 for 3-point field goal percentage.
Aggies in the Nation
Coming into the week of Dec. 30, NM State leads the nation in free throw attempts and free throws made out of 345 teams ranked.
The Aggies are also top contenders for blocked shots per game and are ranked No. 30 nationally with 5.9 blocks shots per game while the national leader St. John’s from New York records a 9.5 per game. The Aggies are also No. 4 nationally for total blocks, while St. John’s is the national leader in that category as well.
NM State is No. 5 in the nation in rebounds with 595, while Alabama-Birmingham leads the country with 629.
Center Sim Bhullar comes into the week at 15th in the nation in blocked shots per game and No. 3 in total blocks. Bhullar has 53 total blocks and national leader Jordan Bachynski from Arizona St. has posted 63.
Guard Daniel Mullings comes into the week of Dec. 30 ranked 33rd in total points with 251. The national leader, Antoine Mason from Niagra had 378 as of Dec. 30. Mullings ranks 31st in total steals and 31st in total field goals made.