Aggies Survive In Ruston, 50-49

The New Mexico State men's basketball team picked up their first road victory since January 29th by defeating Louisiana Tech 50-49 on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies improved to 8-4 in WAC play and remain in second place in conference. Hamidu Rahman led the Aggies with 14 points and grabbed three rebounds as the Aggies played without starting forward Troy Gillenwater who sat out after injuring his ankle against Louisiana Tech on Monday night.

Kenyon McNeaill scored a game-high 17 points hitting three three pointers including a three 36 seconds left that gave the Bulldogs a one point lead at the time. The Aggies' Hernst Laroche would get fouled with 12.2 second left and hit both free throws to give the Aggies a 50-49 lead. The defense would knock the ball out of bounds with 2.2 seconds left keeping possession with Louisiana Tech and DeAndre Brown would be forced into a tough leaning three point shot that hit the front of the rim and bounced back giving the Aggies the 50-49 win.

The Aggies started out cold from the floor hitting just 2-of-11 allowing Louisiana Tech to jump out to an early 15-6 lead. The Aggies trailed by 20-9 with 9:37 left in the first half after a pair of free throws by Kenyon McNeaill but Gordo Castillo would hit a three to bring the Aggies to within eight. The Aggies would continue the run cutting the deficit to just four, 20-16 with 7:46 left in the half as Hamidu Rahman would hit a pair of free throws.

Louisiana Tech would build their lead back to 10 points with 4:48 remaining in the half but the Aggies would get back-to-back layups from Rahman and a jumper from B.J. West to cut the lead to just four, 26-22 with 1:42 left. Louisiana Tech would go up by three on a three pointer from McNeaill with 21 seconds left in the half but Hamidu Rahman would rebound an airballed three point attempt and slam it back home right before the buzzer to send the Aggies into halftime with a bit of momentum down 31-26.

The Aggie would score the first seven points of the second half to take a 33-31 lead and their defense would hold LA Tech to just four points through the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Aggies built a seven point lead at 42-35. The Aggies would continue to lead by seven, 48-41 after a dunk from Rahman but Louisiana Tech would cut the lead down to two points on a three from McNeaill with 2:04 left to play and then after a missed jumper from McNeaill was rebounded by Christian Kabongo, Tshilidzi Nephawe would be called for a foul, his fifth, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs. McNeaill would bury a corner three to put LA Tech up by one, 49-48 with 36 seconds remaining. Laroche would force contact with DeAndre Brown and draw the whistle and hit both free throw shots giving the Aggies the 50-49 lead. The Aggie defense would play solid in the final 12.2 seconds and DeAndre Brown's last second three point attempt would bounce off the rim.

The Aggies shot just 38.5 percent for the game but held Louisiana Tech to just four second half field goals and just 18 points. The Aggies shot 13 free throws, hitting eight, while Louisiana Tech shot 24 free throws, hitting 16. The two teams combined to hit just 5-of-35 three point attempts, three by the Bulldogs and two by the Aggies.

New Mexico State improves to 8-4 in conference play with the road win and returns home on Saturday, February 19th to take on Northern Colorado in an ESPNU Bracketbusters matchup.