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The Daily Aggie :: 03/16/13 | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

The Daily Aggie :: 03/16/13

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It's championship game day as the New Mexico State men's basketball team looks to repeat as WAC tournament champions for the first time in school history and they aim to be the first repeat winners since Hawai'i won in 2001 and 2002.

The Aggies are also looking to reverse some older WAC Tournament history as they head into this 3 vs. 4 matchup tonight. Five times in WAC Tournament history the 3-seed has taken on the 4-seed in the WAC title game and just once has the 3-seed come out victorious. The Aggies are part of that history as they fell in 2008 as the three seed against four seed Boise State.

UT-Arlington provides an interesting challenge in that they thoroughly handled the Aggies in Arlington to open WAC play winning by 21 points in a game that was possibly the worst conference game the Aggies have played since the 2011 WAC semifinal loss against Boise State. They also played the Aggies tough on Saturday rallying from a 15-point halftime deficit and taking a late 66-64 lead before an eventual game-winning three pointer by Bandja Sy.

In three of the four halves of basketball the Aggies and Mavs have played this season, UTA has outscored the Aggies by 13, 8 and 12 points. The Aggies will undoubtedly be focused on Kevin Butler and Karol Gruszecki who in the two games against the Aggies this season have combined for 48 points and 17 rebounds. The Aggies also need to take care of the basketball against the Mavs. They committed 35 turnovers in the two previous meetings which UTA has converted into 33 points. The Aggies have taken good care of the basketball in the two games in the tournament so far with just 18 turnovers in two games.

One area of concern tonight is the Aggies' free throw shooting. In two tournament games it has been less than spectacular despite the two wins. They were just 7-of-16 against Idaho and 22-of-35 against Texas State. Should this game go down to the wire the Aggies will need to hit free throws.

The Aggies also need to get big games out of Bandja Sy and Daniel Mullings. Texas State took those two away by playing triangle and two in the semifinals. As a result Sy and Mullings combined to take just eight shots and scored only 13 points. Suffice to say the Aggies cannot win tonight if those two combine for just 13 points.

Finally, we believe the Aggies have the advantage tonight in terms of coaching. Marvin Menzies has been here before. It's his fourth WAC title game in six seasons, third in four years and he knows exactly what to say to his players to get them ready for tonight. We have no doubt they'll be completely locked into the game until the final buzzer sounds.

By the end of the night we expect the Aggies to be cutting down the nets in a close one with our final score prediction of: New Mexico State 67, UT-Arlington 61.