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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.

The Daily Aggie :: 12/22/12

The Aggie women's basketball team bounced back last night and crushed UMKC 75-50 in a game that they led wire-to-wire. The Aggies scored the game's first five points and never looked back. The team led 18-2 with just under 12 minutes left in the first half and 33-11 with just under four minutes left in the half. UMKC ended the half on a 10-0 run to cut the Aggies' lead to 33-21 and scored the first basket of the second half to trim the Aggies' lead to 10 at 33-23 but New Mexico State seized control with a 7-0 run and cruised the rest of the way.

As we noted in yesterday's Daily Aggie there was the distinct possibility that this was going to be a bounceback game for the Aggies offensively considering UMKC's poor play defensively. The Aggies lit it up from deep converting 14-of-30 three point attempts. Danesia Williamson and Stephanie Gilbreath both broke out of their offensive funks and Williams went for 21 points on 50 percent shooting and Gilbreath finished with 14 on 45.4 percent shooting both well above their season shooting percentage averages. In reality the difference in this game was the Aggies' stifling defense (in combination with UMKC's horrendous offense). The Roos were held to just 28.6 percent shooting and hit just 1-of-14 from downtown. The Aggies also forced 18 UMKC turnovers, five above the 'Roos season average while committing just 11 themselves.

The Aggies victory is their sixth on the season and matches last year's win total. The Aggies open up conference play right after Christmas (December 29th) and this win will definitely give them some momentum going into conference play where there is no dominant team and the race appears to be wide open. Texas State (6-3), the Aggies (6-4) and UTSA (6-5) are the only teams in the league with a record above .500 while the rest of the league is a dismal 24-47 which includes preseason favorite Utah State who has struggled out of the gate to a 3-8 record.

Despite the big 25-point win there are a few concerns coming out of this game. The Aggies shot the ball well from deep as we mentioned but from inside the three point arc the Aggies were just 8-for-23 (37 percent) and the Aggies need to be able to score inside and can't depend on shooting over 45 percent from deep every night especially considering that coming into the game they'd been converting under 30 percent of their three point attempts all season long.

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action tonight as they take on Missouri State at 7:00 p.m. (MT). The Bears are, for lack of a better word, awful. Plain and simple this is a game that the Aggies should be able to win handily. Missouri State has not beaten a Division I opponent this season and most recently lost to Alabama A&M from the SWAC.

Much like Missouri-Kansas City last night, Missouri State is near the bottom of Division I offensively shooting just 41.8 percent from two and 26.5 percent from three. They average just 58 points per game, although they're only allowing 62.4 point per game. Teams are shooting 45.3 percent from the floor against them including an eye-popping 53 percent from inside the three point arc. Their three point defense is fairly solid at 29.3 percent but as an opponent if you can hit over half your shots inside the arc there's not much need to shoot it from deep.

Tonight should be a "get right' game for the Aggies. A win can push them back to .500 heading into league play. We'd be a little surprised if the Aggies don't win big in this one.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com.

The Daily Aggie :: 12/21/12

The Aggie women's basketball team is back in action for the final time in 2012 and the final time in non-conference play. The women have a chance to match last season's win total (six) with a victory tonight over visiting Missouri-Kansas City. The 'Roos come into Las Cruces with a 4-8 record overall and are led by a pair of 15 point per game scorers in Kim Nezianya and Ellise O'Connor. The Aggies have actually faced UMKC already in 2012, though that was last season on January 4th, 2012 in Kansas City.

The Aggies have gotten into a bad habit this season of falling behind big early and in the last two games have trailed by 22 and 17 points at halftime respectively and gone on to score just 44 points in each of those two games (both losses). The good news for the Aggies is that UMKC ranks near the bottom defensively in field goal percentage defense allowing opponents to shoot 46.5 percent from inside the arc and 40.9 percent from outside the arc. The Roos don't turn the ball over many times, averaging just 13.8 giveaways per game.

Both teams score on average in the mid to upper 50's the big advantage is that the Aggies are holding their opponents to an average of 60 points per game while UMKC gives up 69 points per game. This is a game that the Aggies can win and it's also a game that could help them snap out of their season-long offensive funk and in particular Stephanie Gilbreath and Daniesha Williamson. Ddespite leading the team in scoring, the duo has not shot the ball particularly well with Williamson knocking down just 32.7 percent of her attempts and Gilbreath converting an surprisingly low 27.5 percent of her field goals.

With two low-scoring offenses it's likely that the winner will be the first team to reach 60 points and given the Aggies' fairly solid scoring defense we think the Aggies will come out of this one with a victory and could eclipse the 70 point mark for just the third time all season.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tip.

The Daily Aggie :: 12/19/12

The Aggie women's basketball team dropped its second consecutive rivalry game falling 68-44 to UNM. The trouble for New Mexico State this season has been the inability to score for long stretches and falling behind big early. Last night was no exception as the Aggies trailed 10-9, 17-3 and 35-16 before heading into halftime down by 17 points. The Aggies made a couple of small runs at the Lobos in the second half cutting the lead down to as few as 14 points and with 11:13 left to play and a chance to cut the lead to 12 or 11 (with a three pointer), Stephanie Gilbreath threw a lazy pass that was intercepted by UNM's Caroline Durbin who took it in for a layup to push the lead back to 16. The Aggies got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way. Sometimes a single play can turn the tide of a game and that was a big play in the game. Had the Aggies been able to cut the lead to 12 or 11 at that point they may have been able to continue to chip away at the lead and perhaps mount a late comeback as they've done a couple times this season.

It did not help that the Aggies' two best players, Stephanie Gilbreath and Daniesha Williamson, combined for just 14 points on 4-of-25 shooting (16 percent) and were a woeful 1-for-13 from three point distance.

It's a short turnaround for the Aggie women as they'll face the 'Roos from UMKC on Friday evening.

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action tonight as they hope to pull off the upset in Round II of the Rio Grande Rivalry. The Aggies dropped the first round losing by 15 points at The Pit. Aggie seniors Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson had subpar games, similar to the performance from Gilbreath and Williamson last night for the Aggies in their loss to UNM. The senior duo combined to go 2-for-19 from the field and 1-for-8 from the three point arc. It's unlikely that the Aggie seniors will struggle like that again in tonight's game, however, that's not the only reason the Aggies lost to UNM this past Saturday. The Aggies need to do a better job guarding the Lobo three point shooters. UNM went 7-for-13 from deep and in the past two games, both double-digit Lobo wins, the Lobos have shot a combined 19-for-37 good for 51.3 percent.

Turnovers, which have been an issue for the Aggies this season were kept to a minimum at just eight, however, the Lobos were highly efficient in converting those Aggie mistakes into points, 17 of them to be exact. Even though the turnover number was low the Lobos also benefitted from some poor shot selection by the Aggies which in the eyes of most coaches is just as bad as a turnover. Bad shot selection can lead to poor floor balance on the defensive end and runouts or easy baskets for the opponents. Better shot selection will certainly be needed tonight from the Aggies.

The Aggies also need to do a better job avoiding the Lobo block. UNM had a season-high 11 blocks in Saturday's game it was also one of their highest point totals in several seasons and tying for the highest total under Steve Alford. Alex Kirk, the Lobos' 7'0" center had a career-high with five of the blocks but the more worrisome number was the career-high four blocks put up by Lobo guard Hugh Greenwood.

Can the Aggies put together a complete game tonight and hand UNM their first loss of the season? It's certainly possible but once again as was the case on Saturday, the Aggies have to play above their average and hold UNM below their averages. The Aggies need to get a big game from one of their supporting cast, perhaps Kevin Aronis who has been pretty silent this season but has made 7-of-15 three point attempts in four games at the Pan Am this season.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com. Radio coverage is also available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 12/14/12

The Aggie men's basketball team is on their way to Albuquerque as they prepare to take on the Lobos in the Rio Grande Rivalry on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies are 5-4 on the season while UNM is a perfect 10-0 and ranked as high as 17th (AP) and 20th (Coaches) in the polls. The Aggies will have their hands full trying to stop the Lobos and will be trying to do so a bit shorthanded. Head coach Marvin Menzies announced yesterday at his weekly press conference that junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe is doubtful for the game after undergoing surgery on an injured wrist (believed to be a ligament injury). That means that 7'5" freshman Sim Bhullar will see a lot of action at center. That should also open the door for more playing time for Renaldo Dixon, a player who doesn't get a ton of playing time but generally has looked solid when he does get an opportunity.

If the Aggies are going to upset the Lobos tomorrow they're going to have to bring their proverbial 'A' game. On paper this is a pretty big mismatch. If you listened to our podcast this week with Teddy Feinberg we noted a few statistical items that have us feeling a bit uneasy about this game. If you did not, you're in luck because we're going to spell it out on paper here for you. To preface this, we looked solely at what these two teams have done as road (NMSU) and home (UNM) teams to get a feeling for what their averages are.

First off, we can all agree that the three point arc is going to be a big key to this game. The Lobos rely heavily on the three ball while the Aggies do not but have also been able to lock down opponents from deep. The Lobos are averaging 18.5 three point attempts per home game while making 6.8 per game. That's 20.3 points per game that the Lobos are generating from deep. Conversely, the Aggies are averaging 11.4 three point attempts per game on the road and making 3.4. That's 10.2 points per game from deep for the Aggies on the road. If the two teams play to their averages that's a 10.1 point advantage for UNM.

Another key to this game will be free throw shooting. The Aggies have consistently been one of the nation's leaders in both free throw attempts and makes, however, this year UNM is doing even better than the Aggies are in that category. At home the Lobos are averaging 28.5 free throw attempts per game and are hitting at a 74.2 percent rate. That's 21.1 points per game from the stripe. The Aggies are averaging 21.1 free throw attempts per game on the road which is a good amount. However, the Aggies have been a poor free throw shooting team on the road (and neutral) converting just 63.2 percent. That's 13.3 points per game from the stripe. Again, if the two teams play to their averages, the Lobos will have roughly and eight point advantage (7.8 point to be exact).

From inside the arc the Aggies and Lobos are pretty even both in terms of attempts per game and conversion rate. The Lobos at home this year have attempted an average of 51.5 two point shots per game and are converting at a 43.6 percent rate. That's 44.9 points per game. The Aggies on the road this year are averaging 50.4 attempts inside the arc and hitting at a 42.3 percent clip good for 42.3 points per game so just a 2.6 point advantage or essentially a bucket and a half.

Another big area of concern for the Aggies is turnovers. The Aggies' turnover numbers have been about the same both home and road (actually worse at home). The Aggies are averaging 17.6 turnovers per game, 17.0 on the road. UNM has been able to convert their opponents turnovers at roughly 1.13 points per turnover. If the Aggies turn the ball over at their average and UNM converts at their average that's 19.2 points off of turnovers that UNM will get. On the other hand, the Aggies have been equally efficient at converting opponent's turnovers (1.12 points per turnover), however, this Aggie team is only turning teams over 12.5 times per game (12.4 on the road) and UNM is only averaging 13.3 turnovers per game (in all games). If those numbers hold the Aggies will score 14.9 points. That's a 4.3 point difference.

If you add all of that up the Lobos would hold a 24.8 point advantage if both teams played to their road/home averages. Fortunately for the Aggies games aren't played on paper or in calculators. Games are played on the court. That being said, the Aggies can't walk into The Pit and play their "average" game and hope to win. The Aggies will have to play at the highest level that they've played all season and hope that their defense, which has been solid this year, can keep UNM from hitting their home averages.

There are going to be some intriguing matchups across the court tomorrow but three in particular stand out. One, 7'5" freshman Sim Bhullar going up against UNM's 7'0" redshirt sophomore Alex Kirk. Second, Bandja Sy against UNM's Tony Snell (stopping/containing Snell will be a big key to an Aggie victory) and third, Daniel Mullings or Tyrone Watson on UNM's Kendall Williams.

The Aggies will also need to get outstanding play from the point guard position. The Lobos have a veteran in Hugh Greenwood and would figure to hold an advantage at that spot just due to experience and through nine games this season the Aggie point guard play has been inconsistent. Going back to the turnover issues for the Aggies, one thing they seem to have had an inordinate amount of trouble with in certain games is getting the ball past midcourt off the inbounds. Teams have been able to double-team and pressure the man receiving the inbounds pass forcing the Aggies into turnovers. The team cannot afford to turn the ball over in the backcourt or it will likely turn into easy baskets for the Lobos (and easy baskets get the crowd involved).

Can the Aggies beat the Lobos? Absolutely, any team can beat any other team on any given day but as we noted before the Aggies will have to "Play Up" as it were in order to beat UNM.

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The Daily Aggie :: 12/05/12

It's gameday once again as the Aggie women's basketball team takes the short drive down I-10 to take on rival UTEP. The last time the Aggies and Miners met the Aggies were handing UTEP their first loss of the season. Since then UTEP played fellow WAC member Texas State winning 88-81 getting a 29/11 performance out of Kayla Thornton. They also got 22 points out of Anete Steinberga and it appears that the duo has stepped up to the plate in taking over for injured Kristine Vitola who blew out her knee prior to the NMSU/UTEP game.

Clearly tonight the Miners will be looking for some revenge against the Aggies who also have not lost since defeating UTEP and are a somewhat surprising 5-2 on the year.

Through about a third of the season both the men's and women's teams have developed identities, both of which are not necessarily good, however, not necessarily bad but they are certainly polar opposites of each other. The women's team has become the team who falls behind big early and then rallies late to either nearly win or win (rallying from seven down at halftime in the first game to win, nearly rallying from 13-down and then most recently back-to-back wins after trailing by 15). The men's team on the other hand builds early leads only to see them melt away (losing a 22-point first half lead, almost losing a 17-point first half lead, losing a 4-point lead) making a comfortable situation into a nail-biting one.

Obviously if the Aggie women can get off to better starts and the Aggie men can learn to close better, both teams will be much better off and it will save both coaches will a few gray hairs.

Tonight New Mexico State will need to start better than they have the previous two wins. They can't keep falling behind by such large deficits in the first half and expect to come back and win. Quite frankly the Aggies would not have won at Southern Utah had the Thunderbirds not gone 0-for-7 from the free throw line down the stretch and they were also lucky against UTEP in that after Kelsie Rozendaal stole the entry pass on UTEP's final possession that the Miners just stood around looking dumbfounded instead of playing out the game and immediately fouling Rozendaal. There would have likely been around three or four seconds left to play under that scenario. Can the Aggies sweep the Miners? Yes, they've got the talent to do so but they've got to get out to a better start out of the gate if they're going to win tonight.

Tonight's game between the Aggies and Miners is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. (MT) tipoff can Live Stats will be available for the game via the UTEP athletic website. Radio coverage will be available on KSNM AM 570 with streaming audio available on Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie men's team picked up their first road win of the season holding on for a 58-52 victory. As we noted earlier the Aggies nearly lost this game after jumping out to a huge lead in the first half. South Alabama led 4-2 but then the Aggies ripped off a 21-2 run and led 23-6 at the under eight minute media timeout. Then the Aggies gave up a 19-8 run to end the half and it was just a six point hafltime lead. The Aggies held South Alabama at bay for the majority of the second half but the lead did get down to two points twice. The Aggies were able to do just enough defensively coming up with a pair of turnovers and the Aggies hit free throws when they needed to (something they struggled with all night long) as K.C. Ross-Miller and Bandja Sy went 3-for-4 over the final 16 seconds to eek out the win.

The Aggies are fortunate to not have lost this game considering three facts. First, they were an abysmal 9-for-18 from the free throw line and it was guys who are normally good free throw shooters who were missing free throws (Bandja 3-for-6, Mullings 0-for-2, Tyrone 1-for-4 although Tyrone gets a bit of a pass considering he was playing with the flu and it should be noted that South Alabama was equally unimpressive from the stripe finishing 9-for-17). Second, the Aggies committed 17 turnovers though according to the box score South Alabama was only able to convert those into six points (it felt like more). Third, the Aggies allowed 15 offensive rebounds to a team that was MUCH smaller than the Aggies, though again, South Alabama could only convert that into nine second chance points.

Those three areas, in particular the turnovers, will need to get cleaned up over the next 11 days before the Aggies make the journey up I-25 to The Pit. One thing we can guarantee is if the Aggies shoot 50 percent from the free throw line, turn the ball over 17 times and give up 15 offensive rebounds against UNM, the final score won't be pretty.

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The Daily Aggie :: 12/04/12

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action tonight looking to pick up a second straight quality win and their first road win of the season. The Aggies are 0-4 on the road but had it not been for a couple of late minute collapses they could easily be 2-2. South Alabama started out with a big win on the road defeating Florida State in Tallahassee but since then have gone just 3-3 with questionable losses to Monmouth, Tennessee State and Georgia State (who was crushed by 18 against fellow WAC member LA Tech). They've since rebounded with a pair of wins in Sun Belt play defeating the two Florida schools (FAU and FIU) but one has to wonder which team the Aggies will see tonight. Will it be the team that defeated FSU or will it be the team that lost three in a row.

One common factor in the Jaguars' losses were their lack of efficiency shooting the three ball. South Alabama gets 40 percent of its scoring from deep but in those three losses they shot just 37 percent, 29 percent and 29 percent respectively but in their wins over the three Florida schools the Jaguars shot 37, 54 and 60 percent with the 60 percent coming against FSU.

Thus far the Aggies have done a decent job guarding the three point arc with teams shooting just 29.6 percent against them. The Aggies haven't been much better shooting the three ball at 30.4 percent but that's not where the Aggies want to do their damage. They want points in the paint, points in transition and points from the free throw line.

One matchup that will be intriguing to watch tonight will be the interior defense. South Alabama averages six blocks per game, 14th best in the country. The Aggies average 4.6 blocks per game, 66th best in the country (although we expect that number to keep getting better).

Another thing to watch is the foul situation. The Jaguars also do not foul much with their opponents only getting 19 percent of their total points from the free throw stripe while the Aggies love to get to the line recording nearly 29 percent of their points per game at the charity stripe.

Tonight will be another battle of wills. Can the Aggies keep South Alabama from getting hot from deep? Can South Alabama keep the Aggies off the free throw line? Can Sim Bhullar author up another impressive performance?

One player to watch will be South Alabama's Augustine Rubit. He's averaging 19.1 points and nine rebounds per game this season 52.2 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw stripe hitting 38-of-42 attempts. Only Tyrone Watson from the Aggies has been to the charity stripe more often (twice more but he's also played one more game).

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off. Live Stats will be available via the South Alabama athletic website and radio coverage will be available via the Aggie Sports network and streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required) and for free on WNSP.com (South Alabama feed).

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The Daily Aggie :: 12/01/12

It's gameday Aggie fans! It's the start of final month of the year and it's a busy day in Aggie sports. Aggie volleyball wrapped up their season last night with a disappointing loss to BYU. The Aggies were swept by the Cougars losing 25-8, 25-17 and 25-14 and really struggled throughout much of the match with ball control which had been a bit of an issue throughout the season. They also struggled a lot with what appeared to be communication issues. A few balls that dropped that should have been dug, a few times players ran into each other and some miss-timing on sets to players as well. Unfortunately it wasn't representative of the how well we know Aggie team can play. That being said the future looks exceptionally bright for the Aggies as they return everyone, save for senior defensive specialist Madison Hardy. A offseason of practice together, particularly working with the lineup that the Aggies won the WAC tournament with plus some seasoning for their outstanding freshman class should mean big things for this team. The experienced gained last night will undoubtedly fuel them to another NCAA tournament run next year and hopefully help them advance past the first round.

We'll have more on the volleyball team next week but for now we offer up our congratulations on a great and exciting season.

On the flip side of things the Aggie football team finishes a disappointing season today at Texas State. The Aggies are 1-10 and have suffered through one of the most miserable seasons in recent history (Coach Walker's first year and Hal Mumme's first year come to mind as contenders for that dubious title). Despite the terrible record and the lack of competitiveness on the field the Aggies, save for one game this season, have never quit fighting.

An example of that resolve and lack of quit in the team we were told that earlier this week someone dropped by the football offices and saw a pair of defensive players in the team's poring over game film. Teams that have quit don't do that and anyone who believes this team has given up is sadly mistaken and doesn't know the team nor do they know the fire and fight that Coach Walker has and has instilled in his program.

The Aggies will take the field today at 2:00 p.m. (MT) and try to end the season on a high note by beating Texas State. It's the final regular WAC football game of the year and it's also the last WAC conference football game perhaps ever in history. Despite all the struggles this year the Aggies have a chance to do something that nobody else in the league except for Texas State has a chance to do this year and that is go down in history as winning the final conference game ever in the WAC.

Texas State is 3-8 on the year and started out hot with a big-time win over Houston in the season opener. The team was sitting pretty at 3-3 after six game but have fallen off a bit over the last five games culminating with a bitter loss to their rival UT San Antonio. Can the Aggies take advantage of a potential hangover by the Bobcats? Perhaps. One thing is for certain, the Aggies need to "let it all hang out" today on the field both offensively and defensively. In particular on offense we don't want to see a conservative gameplan nor do we want to see conservative or bland play calling from the Aggies.

Defensively, the Aggies have played well better over the last half of the season and in some cases, good enough to win but they haven't gotten any help from the offense. Can the defense put it together one last time in hopes that the offense comes through for them? We'll find out today.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. (MT) and the game can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required). Live Stats are available via the Texas State athletic website.

The Aggie men's and women's basketball teams are also back in action today as the women are on the road to take on Southern Utah and the men return home after a tough loss to UTEP to take on another Conference USA foe in Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles swept the Aggies last season winning in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout and then several days later winning at Southhern Miss. In both games the Aggies struggled at the end of the game to grab a defensive rebound and gave the Golden Eagles extra opportunities to win the game.

The biggest keys to tonight's game for the Aggies are one, limiting turnovers. The Aggies have been a turnover machine this season which is something we feared could happen with the departures of good ball handlers in Hernst Laroche and Wendell McKines. Turnovers were the primary reason the Aggies lost to UTEP on Wednesday as they committed 22 turnovers giving UTEP 20 points. Second, rebounding Southern Miss' offensive misses. It's something that plagued the Aggies in two games last year against the smaller Golden Eagles and it's something that the Aggies must, must, must focus on this year especially if it's a close game. Third, tempo, tempo, tempo. The Aggies cannot get dragged into these slowed down half-court games. It doesn't suit the Aggies. New Mexico State likes to get out and run creating easy buckets off of defensive rebounds and forced turnovers.

Southern Miss would like to keep this game in the 60s while New Mexico State would be better served if this game were in the mid 70's or even low 80's. Southern Miss isn't great from behind the arc but they're serviceable. If this game is close and comes down to free throw shooting, USM has a decided advantage. They're a stellar free throw shooting team with four players above 80 percent and three more above 70 percent.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tipoff and can be seen on AggieVision and streaming online on ESPN3.com. The game can also be heard on the radio on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie women's basketball team looks to continue their winning ways today when they face Southern Utah. The Aggies are fresh off an exciting 69-68 come-from-behind victory over I-10 rival UTEP and almost as importantly for the Aggies, Stephanie Gilbreath appears to have broken out of her season-long shooting slump.

Southern Utah knocked off the Aggies last season in Las Cruces, one of the Aggies' many last second losses and the Thunderbirds are 2-3 on the season with wins over New Orleans and Southern Oregon but losses to Nicholls State, Texas Tech and Utah. This should be a high-scoring affair with both teams pushing the pace. Southern Utah averages 68 points per game and is allowing 67. Just one Thunderbird is averaging double-figures in scoring and that is guard Hailey Mandelko at 13 points per game. The Aggies have a pair of double-digit scorers in Daniesha Williamson (14.7) and Stephanie Gilbreath (13.6) and Kelsie Rozendaal is just shy averaging 9.5 points per game.

The Aggies need to get off to a better start offensively. Despite SUU not having any quality wins this season the Aggies can't afford a slow start offensively. Defensively the Aggies have been pretty solid allowing just 57 points per game this season. If the Aggies do start slow offensively they'll need to rely on their defense to keep the game within reach until the offense does get going (which we saw on Wednesday night against UTEP).

Tipoff for this game is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. (MT). There will be no radio coverage for this game but Live Stats will be available through the Southern Utah athletic website and free streaming video is available through the Big Sky network.

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/30/12

It's game day Aggie fans! Aggie volleyball faces No. 12 national seed and first and second round host BYU tonight at 7:00 p.m. (MT) and even better news, if you can't be there you can watch the match on BYUtv!

So what of tonight's match? What are the Aggies' chances against the Cougars? A couple of quick stats to throw out there. The Cougars haven't lost at home all season and while this is a NCAA Tournament match, it's essentially a home match for BYU (think Aggie basketball hosting the WAC Tournament in '06-'07 and '07-'08). Second, the Cougars tied for the regular season title in one of the top three volleyball conferences in the country. Only the B1G and Pac-12 got more teams into the tournament than the West Coast Conference's six. Third, the Cougars have a 6'7" outside hitter who is one of the best players in the country in Jennifer Hamson. She's hitting .361 on the season with 410 kills averaging just over four kills per set. Teams have tried to stop her all season long and only three have succeeded and you can bet the Aggie coaching staff has watched film on those three matches numerous times. Tennessee was able to hold Hamson to just nine kills on 43 swings and a .116 hitting percentage, George Washington held her to seven kills on 21 swings and a .143 hitting percentage and San Francisco had the most success against her holding her to nine kills on 32 swings and forcing her into seven attack errors for a season-low .063 hitting percentage. The problem is that none of those three teams won. If you take away Hamson the Cougars still have middle blocker Alexa Gray who is hitting .314 on the season and averaging 3.36 kills per set and middle blocker Kathryn LeCheminant who is hitting .379 and averaging 1.90 kills per set.

The Aggie defense will need to play at the very least as well as they did this past weekend in San Antonio and if they can, they'll need to potentially find another gear.

The good news for the Aggies is that they've got plenty of weapons on offense themselves and if their passing is as good as it was in the tournament and in particular as good as it was against Idaho they've got a great shot at pulling the upset. Why is that? The Aggies demonstrated a very balanced attack against Idaho with two players finishing with 13 kills, two with 11 kills, one with ten and one with five and none of them had more than four attack errors.

Hitting for a high percentage will be key because you know that BYU will certainly hit for a good percentage. They've not been held under .200 all season long and are averaging .313 as a team this season.

The other big key will be to serve it tough. Try to limit BYU's options on offense as much as possible and try to make them as predictable as possible.

The Aggies have the talent and the capability of pulling off the upset tonight. They've faced some top teams this season and have proven that they can play with them and we're looking forward to seeing what the Aggies can do tonight.

First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (MT) and will follow the first match which is scheduled for a 5:00 p.m. (MT) first serve between Oklahoma and Arizona State. As noted before the match will be televised on BYUtv (check your local listings) and you can also follow on the radio in Las Cruces on KSNM AM 570 with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required). Live Stats will also be available via the BYU athletic website.

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