It's rivalry week for Aggie basketball as the men's team hosts UTEP tonight and UNM on Saturday night while the women's team hosts UNM tomorrow night. The Aggie men lost the first game of the UTEP series a week ago by 17 points as UTEP hit 12 three pointers to offset a 21 rebound advantage for the Aggies.
The first matchup saw UTEP's Christian Polk do the bulk of the damage scoring 25 of the Miners' 73 points. The Aggies did a reasonably good job on Randy Culpepper as he finished with just 15 points on the night finishing 5-of-16 from the floor.
The Aggie only had two players in double figures, Troy Gillenwater (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Hernst Laroche (11 points) and will need to get more production from their other players. Gordo Castillo needs to get moving on the offensive end. Scoring just eight points against UTEP and just seven per game isn't what we envisioned for Castillo entering his final season on a team that lost two premiere scorers. Gordo is hitting for a high percentage from the field, 11-of-25 from three point distance (44 percent) and 15-of-35 overall (42.9 percent), he just needs to be more involved (he's averaging just under six shots per game) and he probably needs to be taking eight to 10 shots per game. If his attempts increased and his conversion rate stayed the same, he'd be averaging around 12 or 13 points per game instead of the seven he's averaging now and as the team's designated three point shooter, that opens up a lot of options for the players around him, particularly Troy Gillenwater and Hamidu Rahman on the inside (Hamidu is averaging just 6.5 shots per game as well).
This is a critical game for the Aggies with these three games coming against UTEP and UNM twice. UNM is a very good team once again and the Aggies need to come out of the I-10/I-25 rivalry series with a 2-2 record at the very least. There are still plenty of chances to enhance their at-large resume (these three rivalry games plus the games against Pacific and St. Mary's) but double-digit losses in the non-conference will not help their cause.
This is about the time last year that the Aggies made their run in the non-conference. The win against UTEP spurred them to a winning non-conference record. With eight non-conference games left a 6-2 record in that stretch should be the goal (7-1 would be better, 8-0 would be outstanding). Only one of the next eight games are on the road that being at New Mexico which as we know is a place the Aggies have struggled mightily the past few years.
Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision as well as streaming online on ESPN3.com. Radio coverage is available via the Aggie Sports Network with Jack Nixon calling the action.
Finally, for those of you still trying to figure out how Dallas could be considered East enough to allow TCU to be in the Big East we leave you with this parting thought courtesy of Dave Lozo a writer for NHL.com:
TCU's average distance from each campus in the Mountain West is 1,011. The number goes up to 1,287 in the Big East. I think TCU will be OK.
On to today's links...
Aggie Men's Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News blogs an update on Wendell McKines' health status.
Jason Groves also shares his thoughts on tonight's matchup.
Jason Groves previews tonight's rematch.
Bill Knight of the El Paso Times previews Round II of the Battle of I-10.
KTSM NBC 9 in El Paso previews tonight's game.
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