The Daily Aggie :: 12/29/10

The Aggie men's basketball team opens up conference play tonight in Moscow as they take on the Vandals. New Mexico State heads into conference play at 6-8 overall (4-8 against Division I opponents) but as Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News points out, the Aggies have flourished under head coach Marvin Menzies in conference play. Menzies' record against the WAC is an outstanding 32-16 in conference play in three seasons. His first season the Aggies tied for the regular season title but lost in the WAC title game in triple overtime, the Aggies slipped a little in his second year getting bounced in the semifinals against eventual tournament champion Utah State and of course last season the Aggies won the tournament title by ending Utah State's 17-game winning streak.

The Vandals are a bit of an enigmatic team this season. On one hand they've beaten Oregon in Eugene, one of two WAC teams to do so this season (SJSU being the other), but on the other hand they turned in an absolute abomination of a basketball game against Montana in Missoula losing 75-33 and it wasn't even that close (seriously).

Coming into tonight's matchup the Vandals are averaging a league-worst 64.4 points per game, they are however, only giving up 66.0 points per game.

One area that could give the Aggies trouble is Idaho's three point shooting. The Vandals are the WAC's second best three point shooting team which should come as no surprise considering Don Verlin is a Stew Morrill disciple and the UtAgs are always one of the best three point shooting teams.

The Vandals also share the ball well averaging 13.4 assists per game, second in the league behind Utah State. Again, something that should be no surprise considering the head coach's lineage.

Individually, Deremy Geiger leads the Vandals averaging 10.7 points per game. Shawn Henderson leads the Vandals in rebounds averaging 6.4 RPG.

The Vandals want to keep this game in the low to mid-60s while the Aggies want this game somewhere in the 70s. Whichever team is able to force the tempo will likely come out of this game with the win.

For the Aggies it's a chance to erase the bad taste left in their mouths from the St. Mary's loss. For Idaho, it's a chance to build on the momentum that their victory over Oregon gave them.

Tonight's game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. (MT) tipoff. Live Stats will be available via the Idaho athletic website. The game can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

On to today's links...

Aggie Men's Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News previews tonight's game.

Tristen Critchfield of the Albuquerque Journal talks about the start of conference play for the Aggies. (Subscription required, use free trial premium pass)

The Sports Network previews tonight's game.

Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune writes that Utah State is the team to beat again.

Aggie Cross Country
Tiffini Porter of the Valencia County Bulletin highlights the Ruybalid brothers.

Aggie Football
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that former Aggie offensive lineman Polo Gutierrez will become the running backs coach at UT-San Antonio.

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