Aggies Hold Off Drake In Overtime, 81-69

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

DES MOINES, IA - Sophomore center Sim Bhullar tallied his third double-double of the year and junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller hit all eight of his free throw attempts to lead the New Mexico State men’s basketball team to an 81-69 overtime win against Drake University, Saturday, Dec. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Bhullar scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to help his team move to 8-5 on the year. Ross-Miller scored 14 points and had five assists as Drake put him to the free throw line six times in the last minute of regulation and twice more in overtime.

The Aggies finished shooting 45 percent from the field after hitting 5-of-8 field goals in overtime; although NM State was held to just 33 percent in the second half. The Aggies also hit 7-of-15 3-pointers on the night with senior guard Kevin Aronis leading the charge going 4-of-5 from behind the 3-point arc. Aronis tied his career-high of 12 points as he also had two rebounds.

“For us to hold Drake to 20 percent from 3-point land is great because that is their forte,” said head coach Marvin Menzies. “I was a little disappointed with our rebounding in the second half but we will keep working on that. This was a grind but our team did what they were supposed to do and the guys got a win on the road.”

Sophomore Matej Buovac was 2-for-2 from 3-point range to help his team pick up the win while junior forward Tshilidzi Nephawe had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Drake forward Chris Caird was the only Bulldog to hit any 3’s but they all came at the right time as he made two of his 3-pointers under the :45 second mark as his team eventually tied the game to head into overtime.

The Aggies jumped out to an early 9-0 lead, not allowing Drake to score until the 14:51 mark. NM State took its first 10-point lead at 13-3 when Mullings slammed the ball after he made the steal. Bhullar got fouled in the process of making a layup with 9:53 left in the half and made the free throw to give his team a 21-9 lead.

The Bulldogs found some life and eventually pulled to within four at 23-19, but NM State would go on a 13-2 run to take a 36-21 lead with 2:00 remaining in the half. Sophomore Matej Buovac would cap that with his second 3-pointer of the year and would hit his third three with :32 seconds left to give NM State a 39-25 lead. NM State shot 50 percent (16-of-32) from the field in the first half with five different Aggies scoring at least six points.

Drake opened the second half scoring the four straight points but good inside play by Bhullar got him to the line. Bhullar made two free throws at the 16:11 mark to make it a 41-33 ballgame. The Aggies extended the lead to ten points at 55-45 on a dunk by Nephawe with 9:51 left in the game. Mullings would score on a nice spin-move to the basket giving the Aggies a 57-47 lead at the 9:08 mark.

The Bulldogs stayed in the game by taking advantage of Aggie turnovers and pulled to within five with a little over seven minutes to play. DK Eldridge hit two free throws to make it a 59-54 game in favor of the Aggies with 3:50 on the clock but a Drake’s Caird put in a 3-pointer to take the game to 59-57 with just over three minutes left on the clock.

Drake outscored the Aggies 24-16 in the last 11:30 minutes of the game to tie it and send it into overtime. However, NM State came out in overtime much like it started the game and scored the first three points, never looking back. The Aggies used their size and scored 8-of-10 points in the paint, while five of those points were second chance points. A powerful Bhullar dunk with :54 seconds left would take the life out of Drake to wrap up the game. The Bulldogs scored only two points in the overtime period.

The Aggies wrap up their four-game, 10-day road trip with a game in Albuquerque, taking on Rio Grande Rival, New Mexico, Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. (MT) with coverage on ESPN3. Radio coverage will also be available on the Aggie Sports Network with Hall of Fame announcer, Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play action.