Sam Wasson's blog

The Daily Aggie :: 01/23/13

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action tonight against WAC new-comer Denver in a crucial conference game for both teams. The Pioneers are alone in second place at 7-1 in league play while the Aggies are a game behind at 6-2. Both teams are chasing the league's only remaining unbeaten, Louisiana Tech, who is 7-0.

The Pioneers were a trendy pick in the preseason but much like New Mexico State, struggled in the non-conference posting a 4-6 record. The Pioneers played an ambitious out of conference slate with plenty of signature win opportunities against teams like Stanford, Cal, Wyoming, Colorado State and Southern Miss but failed to win any of those games. The Pios' lone conference loss is to Louisiana Tech.

The Pioneers are led by 6'6" forward Chris Udofia who comes into the game averaging 12.4 points per game. Denver is also led by Royce O'Neal who is averaging 12.1 points per game. The Pioneers run a Princeton style offense with plenty of back door cuts but they are also deadly three point shooters garnering nearly 40 percent of their total points from behind the arc. In conference play the Pioneers have shot nearly 40 percent from distance while lofting up a ridiculous 185 three point attempts including 35 against UT Arlington. They have been particularly hot of late. In the past three games they've shot 30-for-65 from three which is just under 47 percent. Brett Olsen is the team's best three point shooter at 42 percent (45-of-107).

One of the biggest key for the Aggies tonight is guarding the three point arc. In Denver's losses this season they've shot just 29 percent from three.

Denver also sports a solid scoring defense. Just one WAC team has scored more than 60 points against the Pioneers, no team has scored more than 70 (probably due in large part to Denver's style of play and limiting possessions). Two conference opponents have failed to break 40 points and Denver's points against average in league play is 50. The Pioneers are also one of the top teams in the league in turnovers forced averaging 15.6 and a turnover rate of 25 percent which is best in the league and seventh best in the country.

Denver is a terrible rebounding team which is something the Aggies must dominate tonight. Denver doesn't turn the ball over much and makes the most of their possessions. The Aggies are going to have to be efficient tonight and if they can get this game played at a fast tempo it would really favor the Aggies.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 9:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

The Daily Aggie :: 01/19/13

It's gameday once again for the Aggie men and Aggie women. The men host San Jose State tonight in the Pan Am after dominating Utah State on Thursday night. It was the best complete game the Aggies have played this entire season. The Aggies held the league's most efficient offense to just 38 percent shooting, dictated play in the pain with seven blocks including five from Sim Bhullar who at this point is the leading candidate for WAC Freshman of the Year. Another key statistic is that Utah State shot just four free throws which is amazing considering the number of blocks the Aggies had. New Mexico State being able to block and alter shots without fouling is huge advantage if they can keep it up.

Over the course of Marvin Menzies' tenure we've become accustom to high-scoring Aggie teams. This year is different though. The Aggies don't have the explosive offense that they've had in the past, however, this year's team is becoming one of Coach Menzies best defensive teams he's had here which at the end of the day is going to help them win a championship. We'll take a team that can lock down the opposition over a team that has to rely on offense and outscore team any day of the week. Offense is fickle and and go through cold streaks but defense isn't subjected to cold streaks.

It is also no coincidence that the Aggies' five game win streak coincides by Bandja Sy's emergence on the offensive end. Mired in a season-long offensive funk, Sy is shooting 32-of-49 and averaging 18.8 points over the past five games. Maybe more importantly is Bandja has stopped relying on being a three point shooter taking just 11 attempts over the past five games (by comparison he took 22 three point attempts in the first five games of the season and 11 in back-to-back games against New Mexico, both losses).

Tonight the Aggies have a chance to run their win streak to six games. The Spartans come into the game off a huge loss against Denver on Thursday night scoring a season-low 37 points. The Spartans are last in the league in field goal percentage, two point field goal percentage and 9th in the league in three point shooting percentage. The Spartans do have the WAC's leading scorer in James Kinney at 20.6 points per game and forward Chris Cunningham is chipping in 10.8 points per game but no other Spartans are in double-digits scoring but Kinney and Garrett are both in San Jose due to violation of team rules (h/t Jason Groves).

The one thing the Aggies need to avoid is a letdown. The Aggies kept themselves in the thick of the WAC race by beating Utah State but a loss to the Spartans would undo all of that.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) time and can be seen on AggieVision and

The Aggie women are also back in action tonight coming off a heartbreaking loss at Utah State. The Aggies led most of the game but lost 65-63 on a last-second three point shot. The Aggies had two chances at the free throw line in the final 17 seconds but both times missed the front end of one-and-one which kept it a one-point lead. Tonight the Aggies face San Jose State who comes into the game with just a 6-11 record but they're 3-3 in WAC play and have won two games in a row with a 103-80 win over Utah State and a much, much closer win over Denver, 68-67.

The Spartans are the youngest team in the country playing six freshmen and two sophomores and a junior. Ta'rea Cunningham, one of the two sophomore, is averaging 20.7 points per game. She is backed up by freshmen Emily Schill and Riana Bird who average 11.2 and 10.5 points per game.

This is a winnable game for the Aggies but it's another game in which the Aggies need this game to be in the 60s and not in the 70s, 80s or 90s. SJSU can score, they've hit the 80+ mark twice, the 90+ mark once and 100+ once while the Aggies have hit the 70+ mark just four times this season and have more often than not scored in the 50s and 60s with three games in the 40s and one game in the 30s.

One issue the Aggies have had during this three game losing streak is their free throw shooting. They shot just 12-for-22 in a six point loss to Seattle and the aforementioned one-and-one misses against Utah State which could have made the game a two, three, four or five point game had they made any combination of free throws.

San Jose State would like this game to be played at a fast pace. They're tops in the league and second in the country in possessions per 40 minutes at nearly 85. The Aggies have done a good job of keeping the games played at a pace they're more comfortable with.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 0/17/13

The New Mexico State men's basketball team faces WAC rival Utah State tonight for the final time in the Pan Am at least for the foreseeable future. As it always is, it's an important game for the WAC race. The Aggies are 4-2 in league play, two games behind Utah State and Louisiana Tech in the loss column and a game behind Denver in the loss column. The Aggies also have the same number of losses as both San Jose State and UT Arlington. As we noted prior to the Idaho game, this stretch of games is going to determine whether the Aggies are going to contend for the regular season title. Because of the loss to UT Arlington in the opening game of WAC play, the Aggies must roll through this next set of three games with a 3-0 record or risk potentially falling behind Louisiana Tech and Utah State by three games and Denver by two (depending on their result against SJSU) particularly with trips to Denver and Utah State still to come later in the season.

With Utah State it's the same story this year as it seems to be every year. A gaudy record but question marks with regards to just how good a team they are. The UtAgs are 14-1 but it's against one of the weakest schedules in all of college basketball. USU is led by Preston Medlin who is averaging 16.1 points per game. He's hitting nearly 40 percent of his three point shots and almost 53 percent of his two point shots. Jarred Shaw and Kyisean Reed come in averaging 12.7 and 12.5 points per game respectively. As Jason Groves of the Sun-News has pointed, the Aggies match up well with Utah State and the Aggies can bother Utah State with their length defensively. The UtAgs are very efficient on offense as always. They're tops in the league in field goal percentage, second in two point field goal percentage, first in three point field goal percentage, assists per game, they're tops in assist to turnover ratio and they're tops in the league in offensive points per possession.

Defensively however, the Aggies can take advantage of USU. The UtAgs are just a mediocre defensive team by the numbers. Team are shooting 41.5 percent against them (5th), 46.5 from inside the arc (5th) and 33.4 percent from outside the arc (7th). Utah State is second last in the league in turnovers forced per game and opponent turnover rate.

One area that USU is good at is rebounding percentage. They lead the league at 56.5 percent on the season although in conference play they've dropped to 50.6 percent which is middle of the pack.

For the Aggies to win this game they'll need to rebound well, limit USU's second chance opportunities, defend for all 35 seconds of the shot clock and take the ball inside against USU. The Aggies hold an advantage in both size and athleticism and the Aggies need to take advantage of that as they've done in games past.

One other side note. Utah State comes into the game on a 13-game winning streak. New Mexico State has been a streakbuster for Utah State over the years. The Aggies have snapped Utah State win streaks of 17, 10, 7, 6 and 5 games.

As we noted on this week's podcast, we think New Mexico State wins tonight by ten or eleven points.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and

The Aggie women are also back in action and are on the road this week to take on Utah State and San Jose State. The Aggies have their work cut out for them as both of these teams can put the ball in the basket which is something New Mexico State has struggled with this season. Utah State has scored at least 70 points ten times this season including three 80+ point games and two 90+ point games. San Jose State, which not quite as high-scoring, has scored 98 and 103 points in separate conference games this season.

USU is led by Devyn Christensen who is averaging 20.6 points per game and isn't shy about shooting it. She averages 19 shots per game and has deep three point range. Jenna Johnson at 13.9 points per game and Jennifer Schlott at 13.5 points per game are second and third in scoring for USU.

As you can imagine, the lady UtAgs play at a fast pace averaging over 80 possessions per game. They're not great defensively though ranking at the bottom in most defensive statistics.

As has been the case in a lot of the Aggies' games so far in conference it's going to be a battle between the Aggies' defense and the opponent's offense. If New Mexico State can keep this game in the 60's it really favors them, however, if they get into a track meet with Utah State it's going to be tough for New Mexico State to match USU's offense.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Daily Aggie :: 01/12/13

The Aggie men's and women's basketball teams are back in action tonight as both teams take on Idaho. The Aggie women are looking to bounce back from a tough 60-54 loss to the Redhawks. The Aggies had no answer for Seattle's Kacie Sowell who finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting. The good news for New Mexico State is that the Vandals don't have a player like Sowell. The Vandals do have Alyssa Charlston who is averaging 14.1 points per game and is hitting 47.3 percent of her shots from the floor. The Vandals have won eight of the past nine against the Aggies with the lone win by New Mexico State coming last season in the Pan Am.

Idaho is 2-2 in league play with losses to Utah State and Seattle and wins over Denver and San Jose State. Like Seattle, the Vandals play at a fast pace averaging 76 possessions per 40 minutes on the season and 80.2 possessions per 40 in their four conference games. The Vandals lead the league in three point shooting (conference games only) at 44.8 percent and are second in offensive points per possession (conference games only). This is going to be another tough game for New Mexico State given their inability at times to put the ball in the basket. The fact that Idaho has been hot shooting the three ball also does not help the Aggies' cause. Even though the Aggies rely heavily on their three point shooting, this might not be a team that the Aggies want to get into a three point shooting contest with. One player the Aggies need to really keep track of is Christina Salvatore who has taken 127 three point shots this season making 44.

Rebounding was a concern for the Aggies against Seattle and will be a concern against Idaho tonight. The Vandals are the best rebounding team in the league in terms of rebounds per game at 38.4 and are third in the league in rebounding percentage at 50.6 and an even better 43.5 rebounds per game and 56.6 rebounding percentage in the four conference game. The Vandals also don't put teams on the line very often averaging just 15.6 fouls per game.

The Aggies will likely try to slow the pace of this game down and a game in the upper 50's or low 60's favors the Aggies more than a game in the upper 60's and low 70's.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and

The Aggie men will look to use the momentum of their double-overtime victory over Seattle as they enter a critical four-game stretch in conference play. The Aggies play three of the four teams ahead of them over the next four. The combined conference record of those four teams is 14-5.

At 9-8 this is just the second time this season that the Aggies have been above .500. The last time the Aggies were above .500 was at 5-4 after their win over South Alabama. As we noted, this is a crucial stretch for the Aggies and will really determine whether or not the Aggies will contend for the regular season title. The Aggies already trail Louisiana Tech and Utah State by two games in the loss column and can't afford to lose any more ground. We predicted that 15-3 would likely win the regular season and we still think that's the case.

Idaho is 2-1 in league play with their loss coming at the hands of Utah State in overtime in Logan in a game that the Vandals should have won after leading by eight points three different times including as late at 3:38 left in regulation.

Idaho is shooting 47 percent on the season and 47.4 percent in conference play, however, their points per game has decreased since entering league play. The Vandals are averaging 67.9 points per game on the season but just 64.8 in league play. The Vandals have been hitting 34.8 percent of their three point attempts which is fourth best in the league.

The Vandals' defensive numbers aren't great. They're allowing teams to shoot 43.6 percent from the floor on the year, though in conference play that has improved significantly to 38.6 percent and just 22.5 percent from three point distance.

Idaho does not force a lot of turnovers. In fact they're dead last in the league in turnovers forced per game (7.5) and opponent turnover rate (12 percent). They're not a great rebounding team either which is another area the Aggies should have an advantage in.

The Aggies need to contain Idaho's Connor Hill who is hitting 46.2 percent of his three point attempts (36-for-78) and the matchup between Sim Bhullar and Kyle Barone will be an interesting one. Barone has been at or near the top of the league in field goal percentage each of his seasons in the WAC but has never had to go up against someone like Bhullar (it's pretty safe to say that nobody in the league has ever had that challenge until this season).

Barone and Madison are averaging 15.3 and 15.2 points per game respectively with the aforementioned Hill averagign 10.4 points per game.

Tonight's game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network with Jack Nixon calling the action. Live Stats will be available via the Idaho athletic website.

The Daily Aggie :: 01/10/13

Conference action resumes tonight for both the Aggie men's and women's basketball teams. It's a chance for the Aggie men's team to notch their first road win of the conference season as they take on Seattle and for the women it's a chance to slide into a first place tie with Seattle if they can defeat the Redhawks tonight in the Pan Am.

Tonight's men's game at Seattle sees the Aggies take on a Redhawks team that despite being 0-3 in league play, hasn't exactly had the easiest road to start. The WAC schedule makers did Seattle no favors in basically starting them off with the better half (on paper heading into the season) of the conference when you consider their first seven conference games are against Idaho, Utah State, San Jose State, New Mexico State, Denver, UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech (welcome to the conference Seattle).

So what does Seattle do well that should concern the Aggies tonight? First of all they're the best rebounding team in the league at 37.9 per game and a rebounding percentage of 56.6 percent which is slightly better than the Aggies' rebounding percentage of 56.4 percent. The Redhawks also crash the offensive glass averaging 15 offensive boards per game, tops in the conference. That's something that has given the Aggies some trouble at times this season. In the loss to UT Arlington the Aggies have up 17 offensive boards but have done a much better job the last three games of limiting their opponents' offensive rebounds.

Seattle plays fast. They average 75.7 possessions per game, however, they only average 0.913 points per possession which is second worst in the league. The Redhawks also turn the ball over one out of every four possessions so their could be some opportunity for some easy buckets tonight for the Aggies.

The leading scorers for Seattle average 11 and 10.5 points per game respectively and they're a relatively small team, though they do have a 6'11" freshman center who will likely see a bunch of time tonight against Sim, although he comes into the game only averaging 10 minutes per game. This should be another big game for Sim. There's really no reason to shy away from what the Aggies have been doing with him over the course of the past few games. Sim finishes last week 16-for-17 from the floor, 3-for-4 from the free throw line and had eight boards and four blocks in the two Aggie wins.

This is a game the Aggies should win, although we certainly felt that way when the Aggies went up against UT Arlington as well. The Aggies need to establish themselves on the road in conference play and because of the loss at UTA the Aggies are going to have to steal some road wins somewhere and this trip is one where, if they are going to win the regular season, they're going to have to sweep this road trip.

Tonight's game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on Root Sports.

The Aggie women host Seattle tonight and they have a chance to run their win streak to four games and with that they could forge their way into a tie for first place. The Redhawks have three players who average double-digits in scoring led by Kacie Sowell's 17.2 points per game. Ashley Ward and Sylvia Shepard average 14.4 and 14.2 points per game respectively.

The Redhawks play fast averaging 78.2 possessions per game but much like their male counterparts, they're not particularly efficient on offense averaging 0.841 points per possession which is middle of the WAC. The Redhawks do lead the league in field goal percentage at 41.3 percent per game and 47 percent from inside the arc. The Redhawks aren't a great three point shooting team hitting just 23.1 percent per game which is dead last in the league.

The Redhawks aren't a great defensive team ranking ninth in overall field goal percentage defense, tenth in two-point field goal percentage defense but they are fourth in three point field goal percentage defense (although that could mean that teams are more willing to abandon the three point shot because they know they can score inside the arc). One area the Redhawks are strong defensively is in turnovers. They force just over 24 per game and their opponents are turning the ball over nearly once every three possessions. This hasn't really been an issue for the Aggies this season but depending on which team is able to impose their style of play, it could become an issue.

Seattle turns the ball over a lot, nearly 23 turnovers per game so there could be some easy points for the Aggie women tonight as well. Seattle is the league's best rebounding team in terms of rebounding percentage at 53.4 percent.

The Aggies continue to play pretty solid defense and once again if they can lock down defensively they'll have a chance. And as always they need to avoid those three-plus minute scoring droughts if they are to have a chance to win tonight.

The game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and

The Daily Aggie :: 01/05/13

The New Mexico State men's and women's basketball teams are back in action tonight and both are looking to stay unbeaten in 2013. The women picked up an impressive victory over UTSA on Thursday night thumping the Roadrunners in San Antonio. The Aggie offense clicked on pretty much all cylinders and as we predicted, the defense was solid as it has been much of the two years that Mark Trakh has been head coach, although in this game it was assistant coach Tamara Inouye who picked up the win due to a sudden pregame illness suffered by Coach Trakh which also afflicted the UTSA head coach at halftime.

Tonight the Aggies take on the Texas State Bobcats. Losers of three straight games to open up WAC play, the Bobcats are a high-possession, high-scoring team that will challenge the Aggies' ability to defend. The Bobcats average 76.2 points per game overall and are doing even better in conference averaging 78.3 points per game. Their defense however is not great. They allow 74.7 points per game which has ballooned to 84.3 points per game in three conference games and is no doubt not helped by giving up 98 points in a loss to San Jose State (in regulation) a game in which the ultra-rare occurred, a 100 possession game.

The Bobcats have a pair of high-scoring players in Diamond Ford (22.2 PPG) and Ashley Ezeh (16.4). They also have a third double-figures scorer in Jasmine Baugus (10.6 PPG). For a team that scores so many points, their shooting percentages are surprisingly low. They average just 39.2 percent shooting on the season (41.9 percent from twos and 31.1 percent from threes). Defensively, they're decent. Teams are shooting 38.5 percent against them but they do boast the league's second best three point shooting defense at 28.2 percent. Problematic for the Aggies will be Texas State's shot blocking. The Bobcats lead the league in blocked shots averagign 4.2 per game.

For the Aggies it will be the same story it always is. Can the offense bolster the defense and can the Aggies avoid long scoring droughts during the game? That will be especially important tonight in what figures to be a track meet. Against UTSA the Aggies had five stretches of around three minutes in which they were held scoreless and in three of those they were outscored 7-0, 8-0 and 9-0. Those are the kind of droughts the Aggies cannot afford to have against a high-scoring team.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie men will also look to build on their victory over UTSA as they host Texas State tonight. We had a chance earlier in the season to see Texas State play three games and much like UTSA this is not a very good team. The Bobcats will try to push the ball. They like to play at a little faster pace but at times it appears that they're just playing fast for the sake of playing fast.

They're eighth in the league in shooting percentage, ninth in the league in three point shooting percentage (only the Aggies are worse) and through three league games the Bobcats are averaging a paltry 55 points per game.

Defensively the Bobcats are bad. They're ninth in the league in field goal percentage defense overall and ninth in field goal percentage inside the three point arc allowing 52.8 percent and a whopping 61.6 percent through three WAC games. The Aggies would be well served to do what they did against UTSA in the second half. Take what the defense gives you and in this case, Texas State's defense should give the Aggies plenty inside the arc.

Joel Wright (15.3 PPG) and Matt Staff (13.4 PPG) lead the Bobcats in scoring, however, both are averaging under 30 minutes per game.

We fully expect another blowout win tonight with a big stretch of games coming up. Four of the next six games (counting tonight) will be against teams that are a combined 9-2 in league play with Seattle (0-2) figuring to be a tough game as well.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and Radio coverage is available on the Aggie Sports Network and streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 01/03/13

The Aggie men's and women's basketball teams are back in action tonight as they swap places with each other. The women are on the road while the men open up at home conference play. The Aggie women are looking to get over .500 in conference play for the first time under head coach Mark Trakh. The women started off last season 1-1 in league play but lost four consecutive games and never recovered. This year the Aggies are also 1-1 in league play and coming off a victory over Louisiana Tech, the preseason number two pick by the coaches and media (we picked LA Tech to finish third in our preseason media ballot). The Aggies face UTSA and Texas State this week. UTSA is 7-6 while Texas State is 6-6 and along with the Aggies they are the only three teams out of 10 who are at or above .500 in the conference. If the Aggies can go on the road and at least split this trip they'll be in great shape. We really believe that because of the lack of quality in the WAC this year that the Aggies can compete at or near the top of the league and they have a legitimate shot to win the WAC if they continue to play good solid defense as they have all season and if they can start making some shots.

The Roadrunners have just one player, Simone Young, who is averaging in double-digits in scoring. UTSA averages just 60 points per game but they're also only allowing 52.4 points per game. One area the Aggies need to take advantage of is UTSA's carelessness with the ball. Much like the Aggies last year, the Roadrunners struggle with turnovers averaging 17.5 per game and a turnover rate of nearly 25 percent (i.e. one in four possessions for UTSA results in a turnover).

The biggest area of concern for the Aggies is on the boards. UTSA is the second best rebounding team in the conference in terms of both rebounds per game (36.8) and rebounding percentage (52.1) and the Roadrunners do have two players who stand at 6'3" tall.

Again, the Aggies need to avoid the long scoring droughts that have plagued them all season. If they can do that and can hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 to 40 percent of their shots from the field they should be able to win the game.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with Jay Sanderson calling the action. Streaming audio will also be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action and is hoping that some home cooking is just what the doctor ordered. The Aggies dropped both road contests on the opening weekend of WAC play and for the first time since joining the league the Aggies are 0-2 in WAC play.

Before anyone hits the panic button, there is precedent for a team starting off 0-2 in league play and winning the regular season. Utah State did it in the 2009-2010 season losing at New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech but then ripping off 14 consecutive wins to take the WAC by three games.

What the Aggies must hope for is that their offense finally comes around. The Aggies have struggled mightily on offense this season and are averaging just 65 points per game. The biggest concern right now is their perimeter shooting. It's an area that plagued them last season and was supposedly addressed in the offseason with the additions of Kevin Aronis, Matej Buovac and redshirt freshman Eric Weary. However, the Aggies are a worst three point shooting team this season than they were last season. The Aggies are hitting just over 28 percent of their attempts on the year and a paltry 10 percent of their attempts through two conference games. The Aggies are 310th out of 347 teams in terms of shooting the three ball and it's making life difficult for the team inside with teams clogging up the paint.

The other issue for the Aggies is that they're not turning teams over. The Aggies are forcing just 10.9 turnovers per game which is 318th in the country. Much of the the Aggie offense is predicated on getting easy baskets off of their defensive pressure and if they're unable to turn people over, they're unable to get easy transition buckets.

These next two games should help the Aggies get into the groove that they have yet to find this season. UTSA and Texas State are quite simply bad basketball teams. The two were beaten at home by San Jose State with Texas State losing by 15 to a marginal Spartan team. For historical reference, since the 2005-06 season San Jose State has never been 2-0 in league play, they've never won both conference road trip games and they've never, ever, beaten anyone in conference play on the road by 15 points.

UTSA does have a trio of double-digit scorers in Kannon Burrage, Michael Hale III and Jeromie Hill with Burrage averaging 17.6 and the other two averaging over 14 points per game.

One major area of concern for New Mexico State is UTSA's three point shooting. The Roadrunners are hitting 37.2 percent of their three point attempts on the season which is 54th best in the country. However, defensively, UTSA is bad. They're one of the worst field goal percentage defenses, one of the worst rebounding teams in the country and they also do not block many shots (just 1.5 per game).

This is a game that the Aggies should win and one that quite frankly they should win by double-digits. We would like to see the Aggies get into an offensive rhythm and also get their three point shooters untracked because if they're going to win the league and also win the conference tournament, they need to do better than 10 percent from three point distance. The Aggies don't need to make 10 three per game, sure that would be nice but the Aggies need to at least make between three and five per game and shoot somewhere around 34 percent from deep.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/31/12

The final day of 2012 brings a pair of conference games for Aggie men's and women's basketball and for both teams it's a chance to hit the reset button on disappointing conference openers. For the women a chance to even the record at 1-1 after blowing a nine point first half lead and losing to a 2-8 team. The Aggies simply couldn't make enough shots which has been the case for the past two seasons. The Aggies took 72 shots but could muster just 59 total points, 14 of those coming from the free throw stripe and 21 of those coming from deep meaning the Aggies scored just 24 points on two point buckets.

As we noted on Saturday, the Aggies cannot rely on their three point shooting and can't count on making 14 threes per game as they did against UMKC. The Aggies were "hot" that night and yet still finished the game only shooting 41 percent from the field. Going into the game against UT Arlington on Saturday night the Aggies were averaging 19.5 three point shot attempts per game but against the Mavericks they hoisted a whopping 33 three point shots hitting just seven which, going into the game was one above their season average made (six) per game.

The Aggies need to make a more concerted effort to get higher percentage shots inside the two point arc if they're going to be competitive in the WAC.

Tonight the task doesn't get any easier as they host Louisiana Tech. The Lady Techsters are an incredibly young team and were led on Saturday by sophomores Kelia Shelton's 26 and the only returning starter from last year's team Whitney Frazier who had 16 points and 11 rebounds against Denver in an 82-77 victory.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces and streaming audio online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

If the women's loss on Saturday night was classified as disappointing the men's loss on Saturday was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. The preseason pick to win the league strolled into UT Arlington thinking they'd walk out with a win and instead walked out of Arlington with an embarrassing 21-point loss that saw them score the fewest points (47) since the 2003-04 season when they mustered 37 against New Orleans in a conference loss.

Head coach Marvin Menzies was disgusted with the performance and the effort level from his team and pulled no punches with his postgame comments.

Two players who did show up to play against UT Arlington were freshman center Sim Bhullar, who continues to develop and progress at an exciting rate, finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocks and sophomore guard Daniel Mullings who scored 21 points, though he did have seven turnovers.

Things went so badly that yesterday it was reported by Jason Groves that the team had a player's only meeting. One can only hope that it was a productive meeting and that the team took to heart Coach Menzies' criticisms.

As is the case for the women, the men's task does not get any easier tonight as they face a surging Louisiana Tech team. The Bulldogs are 10-3 under head coach Michael White and are looking every bit the title contender that we felt they would be. They've got the second best record in the non-conference and the Bulldogs also defeated Southern Miss this season just like the Aggies.

Last season in Ruston the Bulldogs forced 20 Aggie turnovers and lost by just 10 despite shooting 5-for-29 from deep. The Bulldogs are just a 31 percent three point shooting team this season but they shoot in volume again getting 28 percent of their points per game from deep. They average 21 three point attempts per game and are hitting almost seven per game.

Raheem Appleby leads the Bulldogs at 17.3 points per game and has taken 60 three point shots though he's only made 18 (30 percent). He's one player the Aggies can't afford to allow to get hot from deep. The best three point shooter is Cordarius Johnson who is hitting nearly 40 percent of his threes and is averaging 11.5 points per game.

For the Aggies, they need to improve in just about every aspect of the game from shooting to rebounding to defense. Again, the thing to watch for tonight is whether or not the team has taken to heart the message their coach sent after the loss to Arlington.

We thought the Aggies would split this initial road trip but after Saturday's performance a split would feel like a major victory for this team.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/29/12

The drive for a couple of WAC titles begins tonight for both the Aggie men's and women's basketball teams. The Aggies both take on UT Arlington with the men on the road and the women at home. The men tip off at 6:00 p.m. (MT) and will take on a UT Arlington team that is just one of three teams in the league with a winning record heading into league play. At 5-3 their three losses have come at the hands of high-major teams but don't fool yourselves too much as two of the three teams they've faced are shells of their former selves in Texas and Oklahoma (it appears unlikely either will make the NCAA tournament this season) and a third loss coming at the hands of No. 22 Oklahoma State. Their five wins have come against Cal State-Bakersfield, Samford, North Texas, Texas-Pan American and Houston Baptist which is to say that they don't have a quality win yet.

The Aggies' best wins this season have come against Southern Miss and South Alabama (3-0 in Sun Belt play) but missed out on a chance for two more quality wins against UTEP and New Mexico. The Aggies are really still trying to get their feet under them but as we noted yesterday, WAC play should provide that opportunity.

The Mavericks average 62 points per game while giving up just 59. The Aggies are averaging just 66.7 points per game but are only allowing 60 points per game. This could be another game in which the Aggies and their opponent grind it out down the stretch but it could also be an opportunity for the Aggies to

Jordan Reves leads UTA averaging a double-double at 10 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Kevin Butler is also averaging 10 points per game for UTA and chips in five boards per game. As will be the case throughout league play the Aggies will have a substantial size advantage over the Mavericks. Reves is the tallest Maverick at 6'10" while no other UTA player stands above 6'6".

With the newfound shooting of Kevin Aronis and Matej Buovac as well as Remi Barry's improved play over the last few games, Daniel Mullings, Sim Bhullar and Tyrone Watson plus the defense of Bandja Sy, the Aggies should be too much for UTA to handle and this could be a double-digit win for the Aggies on the road. The Aggies really need to establish early on that they are going to be the dominant team in the WAC and tonight will be a great opportunity against a team that went 24-9 and 15-1 in the Southland last year.

Tonight's game tips off at 6:00 p.m. (MT) with radio coverage available via the Aggie Sports Network and streaming audio online via Aggie Access (subscription required). Live Stats will also be available via the UT Arlington athletic website.

A half hour after the men tip off in Arlington the women will tip off in the Pan Am against UT Arlington. The Mavericks are just 2-8 on the season and average a paltry 53.4 points per game while allowing 73.8 points per game. The Aggies average just 56.2 points per game but only give up 59 points per game.

This game is very similar to the Aggies' last game against UMKC where offensively the teams were similar but the advantage was clearly to the Aggies on the defensive end.

Once again the Aggies need to avoid the lengthy scoring droughts and the Aggies also need to do a better job of scoring inside because they can't count on hitting 14 threes every game. The Aggies have gone away from Kelsie Rozendaal a bit as of late and they need to get back to feeding her the ball because she has proven this season that she can be an effective scorer for the Aggies and can be someone to balance out the perimeter shooting from Gilbreath, Williamson and the group of Aggie freshmen shooters.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff can can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces and streaming audio and video via Aggie Access (subscription required).  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/28/12

We hope all Aggie fans had a wonderful Christmas wherever you may reside. The holidays are almost over and the Aggie men's and women's basketball teams are back in action as WAC play begins tomorrow. The Aggie men were picked to win the league by the coaches and picked to finish second by the media. It's been a big of a rough go so far for the Aggies. They enter WAC play at a mediocre 6-6 (actually 5-6 for RPI purposes with one of their wins coming against a non-Division I opponent). That being said the Aggies have reason for optimism heading into league play. For starters, 7'5" freshman behemoth Sim Bhullar is really coming into his own and has started to realize that he is indeed 7'5" and can overpower just about anyone he comes across. His career-high night against Missouri State saw him score 25 points, the third most by a freshman under head coach Marvin Menzies (only Jahmar Young's 33 against Boise State in his freshman year and 28 from Daniel Mullings at home last year, his triple-double game, were better). Bhullar's continued development over the remainder of the season, in particular with the absence of Chili Nephawe, will be a big factor in winning not only the regular season but the WAC tournament in March (which is the only way any WAC team is getting into the NCAA tournament).

Second reason for optimism? The WAC is brutally bad this year (and just wait until next season when three-fourths of the league is turned over and WAC play will consist of teams like Chicago State and UT Pan American). Just how bad is the WAC? The league is the 18th best conference in the RPI (out of 31 leagues) and has fallen behind other mid-major leagues such as the Metro Atlantic (MAAC), Northeast, Big West, Horizon (sans Butler), Mid-American (MAC) and Ohio Valley (we can name a couple teams in the OVC but can you?). Just one team in the WAC is inside the RPI Top 100 and that is Utah State at 88. The UtAgs are 8-1 (9-1 if you count their non-D1 win) but that should tell you how weak their schedule has been. If New Mexico State had just one loss heading into WAC play, their RPI would be in the Top 15 or even Top 10 but we digress. LA Tech is sitting right at 100, UT Arlington is at 132, New Mexico State is 169 and the remaining six WAC teams below 200.

The league as a whole is 49-49 with arguably the best wins in league coming via New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech with their victories over Southern Miss (currently RPI 72).

This is a league that is top heavy (if you can even call it that) and will likely be a four team race for the regular season title between New Mexico State, Utah State, Louisiana Tech and Denver. With 18 league games there's a little more margin for error than there was last season with just 14 league games, however, we do think that a 15-3 record will win the regular season title. As is always the case, but even moreso in a watered down WAC, protecting home court will be vital as there should be plenty of road wins for the top contenders. The toughest road games in the WAC figure to be at Utah State, at New Mexico State, at Louisiana Tech, at Denver and at Idaho.

Third reason for optimism is the Aggies seem to have found a little bit of depth late in non-conference play with the increased playing time of Remi Barry (who has looked better inside the arc than outside the arc), the recent hot shooting of Kevin Aronis (who needs to take more shots) and freshman Matej Buovac (who started his Aggie career with eight points). The only concern we have is that one or more of these players may get lost in the shuffle and lose playing time. We've seen at times the Aggies seemingly forget a player is on the bench (prime example being Kevin Aronis against UNM at home). We liked what we saw from Buovac in terms of his shooting but also his movement without the ball, especially considering it was his first game.

Can the Aggies put it all together and make a run through the WAC regular season and even more importantly, a run through the WAC tournament? That's the question that will be answered through the next three months. One thing is for certain. The Aggies won't face any teams in the WAC that are better than the teams they've faced in the non-conference in terms of New Mexico, Oregon State, Southern Miss and UTEP.

The Aggie women's basketball team also opens up WAC play tomorrow but they'll be at home to host UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech (Monday). Despite being picked to finish near the bottom the Aggie women can in fact finish near the top in the conference. The Aggies have upgraded talent-wise but are still trying to piece things together on a night-in and night-out basis. There have been moments that make you think the team will win the WAC (see most of their second half comebacks that have had strong defense combined with good shooting) but there have also been moments where the Aggies have been painfully inept on offense (see point totals of 37, 44 and 44 against New Mexico twice and UTEP respectively) that make you think that things won't be any different this season than last.

The key to the Aggies' play will be getting more out of their "marquee" players, Stephanie Gilbreath and Danesia Williamson. Prior to the duo's "breakout" against a bad UMKC team last week, the two were leading the team in scoring but shooting a miserable 32.7 (Williamson) and 27.5 (Gilbreath) percent from the floor. If those two can start hitting at a better rate (low to mid 40s) and the Aggies can get Kelsie Rozendaal more involved, they will be a very, very difficult team to beat. The young freshmen that the Aggies have in Sasha Weber, Shay Young, Abby Scott and Elena Holguin have shown at various points through the non-conference that they can contribute a bit on a nightly basis.

If the women can avoid these lengthy scoring droughts that have plagued them throughout the early season they can win a lot of games in WAC play. The team plays excellent defense and their offensive sets are effectively, they just need to hit the open shots that they're getting.

The WAC on the women's side is equally bad as on the men's side. Similarly the WAC is 18th in RPI with New Mexico State at 82nd actually having the highest RPI in the league. Texas State is second at 92 and those two teams are the only two above .500. The league as a whole is 37-63 against Division I opposition. Utah State, the preseason pick to win the league, has stumbled out of the gate to a 2-8 record while traditional favorite Louisiana Tech is only marginally better at 4-6.

Unlike the men's side, there's no clear-cut favorite and if you were to base things solely on record, New Mexico State would actually enter conference play as the favorite to win the league. And unlike on the men's side, we don't think a gaudy record will win the regular season. The league's regular season winner will likely have five or six losses in conference play so you could see a team win the league with a 13-5 or 12-6 record.