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 ESPN3.com
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.