Aggies leave borderland for San Jose and NCAA Tournament

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 9:50pm

The New Mexico State men's basketball team meets No. 13 Saint Louis, Thursday, March 21 at 12:10 p.m. (MT) at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., on TNT. The Aggies are a No.13 seed (24-10), and the Billikens are a No. 4 seed (27-6) in the Midwest Regional. The NCAA Tournament games can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network and KGRT 104 FM in Las Cruces with the 'Voice of the Aggies' Jack Nixon, and the pregame show starts 30 minutes prior to tip. The Aggies are making their 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history and their second consecutive showing and third trip in four years for the Crimson and White.

New Mexico State Aggies
The Aggies are 24-10 overall this season after winning its second consecutive WAC Tournament Championship following a 64-55 win over UT Arlington, March 16 in Las Vegas, Nev. Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings is leading the team with 14.0 points per game. Senior forward Bandja Sy is also in double figures with 11.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Senior forward Tyrone Watson and freshman center Sim Bhullar add 10.8 and 10.2 points per contest, respectively. Watson has missed the last four games due to an ankle injury.

Scouting Saint Louis
The Billikens are 27-6 overall after winning the Atlantic-10 Tournament with a 62-56 victory over No. 25/22 VCU, March 17 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Saint Louis has three players averaging in double figures with junior forward Dwayne Evans leading the way with 13.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Senior guard Kwamain Mitchell provides 10.4 points per contest, and senior forward Cody Ellis adds 10.3 points per game.

Series History
Thursday's meeting is the seventh between the two schools with Saint Louis leading the all-time series, 4-2, but the teams haven't met since the 1974-75 season. The Billikens were the Aggies' first-ever opponent in the NCAA Tournament in 1952. Saint Louis and NM State played in Kansas City, Mo., in March 21, 1952, with the Aggies falling, 62-53. The Billikens won all three meetings in Saint Louis, Mo., 96-41, Dec. 7, 1975, 69-54, Feb. 15, 1973 and 78-60, Feb. 27, 1975. The Aggies won both meetings in Las Cruces, 74-58, Jan. 5, 1974, and 55-48, Feb. 6, 1975.

Aggies Win Back-to-Back WAC Championships
NM State defeated UT Arlington, 64-55, to win its second consecutive WAC Tournament Championship, March 16 in Las Vegas, Nev. The Aggies have won three WAC titles in four years and earned their 20th NCAA Tournament berth. NM State is the first team to win back-to-back WAC Tournament Championships since Hawai'i in the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings and freshman center Sim Bhullar led the Aggies with 16 points each. Bhullar recorded his second consecutive double-double and the third of his career with 15 rebounds along with five blocked shots. Senior forward Bandja Sy was also in double-figures with 10 points on a 3-of-4 shooting performance from the 3-point line. The Aggies shot 42.6 percent from the field (20-of-47).

NCAA Tournament Third Round
With a win, the Aggies face the winner of the No. 17/19 Oklahoma State-No. 25/24 Oregon game, March 23, in the NCAA Tournament Third Round. Oklahoma State is 24-8 this season after falling to Kansas State, 68-57, in the Big 12 Tournament, March 15. The Cowboys have four players in double figures with freshman guard Marcus Smart posting a team-high 15.4 points per game for the Cowboys. Junior guard Markel Brown adds 15.3 points per game, while sophomore guard/forward Le'Bryan Nash and freshman guard Phil Forte contribute 14.1 points and 10.4 points per game, respectively. Oregon is 26-8 overall after winning the Pac-12 Championship, 78-69, over No. 21 UCLA, March 16. The Ducks have a balanced offense with senior forward E.J. Singler scoring a team-best 11.6 points per game. Senior forward Carlos Emory provides 11.0 points, while freshman guard Damyean Dotson adds 10.8 points per game. Former Aggie assistant coach Tony Stubblefield is now an assistant coach at Oregon.

Title Town
The Aggies won their fourth WAC Tournament Championship in eight years with the 2013 crown. NM State joined the league in 2005-06, and won the title in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013. The Aggies were the first team to win consecutive titles since Hawai'i accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2002.

NCAA History
The Aggies are making their 20th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. NM State has a 10-21 record in the Big Dance with a Final Four appearance in 1970.

Bhullar and Mullings Guide Aggies to WAC Championship
Freshman center Sim Bhullar was named the WAC Tournament Most Valuable Player after recording his second consecutive double-double in the tournament championship game with 16 points and 15 rebounds versus UT Arlington, March 16. He is the first freshman since BYU's Shawn Bradley earned the award in 1991. Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings was also named to the WAC All-Tournament Team. He averaged 15.0 points and 2.7 steals per game and shot 58.6 percent from the field (17-of-29).


Reader Comments

Post new Comment