Gillenwater Scores 22 In Return; Aggies Open WAC Play With 74-69 Victory At Idaho

The Aggie men's basketball team opened up conference play with a 74-69 victory against Idaho in Moscow on Wednesday night as Troy Gillenwater and Hamidu Rahman returned from injury. Gillenwater scored 22 points in the game and celebrated his birthday with a victory. For the Aggies it marked the sixth straight season the Aggies have opened conference play with a win.

The first half was a game of runs as the Aggies started the game on a 9-0 after Idaho had scored the first basket. Idaho responded with a 15-2 run to take a 17-13 lead. After the Aggies tied the game at 17, Idaho would go on a 7-3 run to take a 24-20 lead. The Aggies would respond with a 5-0 run to take a 25-24 lead. The Aggies would extend the lead out to five points at 29-24 but the Vandals would finish the half on a 7-0 run to take a 31-29 lead at the break.

The Aggies would come out of the halftime break on fire going on a 9-2 run to take a 38-33 lead early in the second half. The Vandals would retake the lead at 40-39 after a layup from Landon Tatum. The two teams would trade the lead back and forth over the next six minutes as the Aggies would take a slim 54-53 after a three-point play from Troy Gillenwater. It would prove to be the last of the 17 lead changes in the game as the Aggies would not trail the rest of the way. The Aggies would extend their lead out to eight points as Tyrone Watson would get a crucial offensive rebound with just over four minutes left to play to extend an Aggie possession. Watson would cap off the sequence with a three-point play as the Aggies would take a 67-59 lead with 3:55 left to play.

Idaho would make one final push and cut the lead to just two at 67-65 on a Jeff Ledbetter layup with 90 seconds left. Gillenwater and Hernst Laroche would each hit the front end of one-and-one free throw opportunities to extend the Aggies' lead to 69-65. Idaho's Kyle Barone would cut the Aggies' lead back to two at 71-69 as he scored his 22nd point with 14 seconds left. The Aggies would hit free throws down the stretch to give the Aggies the 74-69 win.

The Aggies shot just 29 percent in the first half but shot 63 percent in the second half.

The Aggies finished with four players in double-figures led by Troy Gillenwater's 22 points and seven rebounds. Tyrone Watson added 12 points and grabbed six rebounds and Hernst Laroche finished with 12 points, six assists, no turnovers and a blocked shot in 34 minutes of play.

The Vandals were led by Kyle Barone's career-high 22 points. Luiz Toleda added 14 for Idaho.

New Mexico State improves to 1-0 in the WAC and 7-8 overall and travels to Boise to face the Broncos on Friday.