The Daily Aggie :: 01/03/13

The Aggie men's and women's basketball teams are back in action tonight as they swap places with each other. The women are on the road while the men open up at home conference play. The Aggie women are looking to get over .500 in conference play for the first time under head coach Mark Trakh. The women started off last season 1-1 in league play but lost four consecutive games and never recovered. This year the Aggies are also 1-1 in league play and coming off a victory over Louisiana Tech, the preseason number two pick by the coaches and media (we picked LA Tech to finish third in our preseason media ballot). The Aggies face UTSA and Texas State this week. UTSA is 7-6 while Texas State is 6-6 and along with the Aggies they are the only three teams out of 10 who are at or above .500 in the conference. If the Aggies can go on the road and at least split this trip they'll be in great shape. We really believe that because of the lack of quality in the WAC this year that the Aggies can compete at or near the top of the league and they have a legitimate shot to win the WAC if they continue to play good solid defense as they have all season and if they can start making some shots.

The Roadrunners have just one player, Simone Young, who is averaging in double-digits in scoring. UTSA averages just 60 points per game but they're also only allowing 52.4 points per game. One area the Aggies need to take advantage of is UTSA's carelessness with the ball. Much like the Aggies last year, the Roadrunners struggle with turnovers averaging 17.5 per game and a turnover rate of nearly 25 percent (i.e. one in four possessions for UTSA results in a turnover).

The biggest area of concern for the Aggies is on the boards. UTSA is the second best rebounding team in the conference in terms of both rebounds per game (36.8) and rebounding percentage (52.1) and the Roadrunners do have two players who stand at 6'3" tall.

Again, the Aggies need to avoid the long scoring droughts that have plagued them all season. If they can do that and can hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 to 40 percent of their shots from the field they should be able to win the game.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with Jay Sanderson calling the action. Streaming audio will also be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action and is hoping that some home cooking is just what the doctor ordered. The Aggies dropped both road contests on the opening weekend of WAC play and for the first time since joining the league the Aggies are 0-2 in WAC play.

Before anyone hits the panic button, there is precedent for a team starting off 0-2 in league play and winning the regular season. Utah State did it in the 2009-2010 season losing at New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech but then ripping off 14 consecutive wins to take the WAC by three games.

What the Aggies must hope for is that their offense finally comes around. The Aggies have struggled mightily on offense this season and are averaging just 65 points per game. The biggest concern right now is their perimeter shooting. It's an area that plagued them last season and was supposedly addressed in the offseason with the additions of Kevin Aronis, Matej Buovac and redshirt freshman Eric Weary. However, the Aggies are a worst three point shooting team this season than they were last season. The Aggies are hitting just over 28 percent of their attempts on the year and a paltry 10 percent of their attempts through two conference games. The Aggies are 310th out of 347 teams in terms of shooting the three ball and it's making life difficult for the team inside with teams clogging up the paint.

The other issue for the Aggies is that they're not turning teams over. The Aggies are forcing just 10.9 turnovers per game which is 318th in the country. Much of the the Aggie offense is predicated on getting easy baskets off of their defensive pressure and if they're unable to turn people over, they're unable to get easy transition buckets.

These next two games should help the Aggies get into the groove that they have yet to find this season. UTSA and Texas State are quite simply bad basketball teams. The two were beaten at home by San Jose State with Texas State losing by 15 to a marginal Spartan team. For historical reference, since the 2005-06 season San Jose State has never been 2-0 in league play, they've never won both conference road trip games and they've never, ever, beaten anyone in conference play on the road by 15 points.

UTSA does have a trio of double-digit scorers in Kannon Burrage, Michael Hale III and Jeromie Hill with Burrage averaging 17.6 and the other two averaging over 14 points per game.

One major area of concern for New Mexico State is UTSA's three point shooting. The Roadrunners are hitting 37.2 percent of their three point attempts on the season which is 54th best in the country. However, defensively, UTSA is bad. They're one of the worst field goal percentage defenses, one of the worst rebounding teams in the country and they also do not block many shots (just 1.5 per game).

This is a game that the Aggies should win and one that quite frankly they should win by double-digits. We would like to see the Aggies get into an offensive rhythm and also get their three point shooters untracked because if they're going to win the league and also win the conference tournament, they need to do better than 10 percent from three point distance. The Aggies don't need to make 10 three per game, sure that would be nice but the Aggies need to at least make between three and five per game and shoot somewhere around 34 percent from deep.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com.