Aggie Men's Basketball Handles Arizona Christian 81-61

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State junior Pascal Siakam tallied his NCAA-best 12 double-double of the season in leading the Aggies to an 81-61 win over Arizona Christian at the Pan American Center Wednesday night.

The 6-9 forward from Douala, Cameroon, scored 28 points with 10 rebounds in 28 minutes, the least amount of playing time this season, to go with two blocks and a career-high four assists as the Aggies advanced to 8-6 on the year. The Firestorm, the No. 4 team in the NAIA, played the game as an exhibition to keep their record at 13-2.

The Aggies used a good shooting performance as a team, hitting 52 percent, while playing strong defensively forcing 15 turnovers from the Firestorm. The defense was particularly strong in the second half when NM State held ACU to 29 percent from the floor.

"This is actually a really good win," said NM State head coach Marvin Menzies. "I was impressed with the way we performed offensively and defensively as well. A good win for the Aggies."

Menzies continued that his team respected Arizona Christian. "They shot the ball well in the first half, especially from the 3-point arc. This is a better win than it may appear. They were tied at the half in an exhibition with BYU earlier this year. They are a good team."

The Aggies got 18 points and four assists from junior guard Ian Baker in just 26 minutes, while forward Johnathon Wilkins added 12 points with five rebounds in 24 minutes. Baker went 6-of-9 from the floor including 4-of-6 from the arc. Wilkins was 5-of-8 from the floor.

"Johnathon really did well tonight," said Menzies. "He made some jumpers and it helps to free up some things for Pascal when he's able to make those jumpers. Pascal got free to score because of Johnathon's efficiency."

The Aggies controlled the ball against the Firestorm as well, recording just 10 turnovers in the game. The Aggies outrebounded ACU 39-32.

NM State led played all 13 players on the rosters against ACU, and held as much as a 27-point lead before subbing freely with 5:19 to play.

The Aggies started the game with an 11-3 run, but the pesky Firestorm had a surprise for NM State.

ACU proceeded to shock the Aggies with a 21-8 run right afterward, canning six 3-point baskets, to take a 24-19 lead.

The teams swapped baskets until ACU led 27-22 with 9:48 to play in the first when the Aggies defense kicked in.

NM State held ACU scoreless for the next 4:27 during a 9-0 run and finishing the half on a 19-7 run to lead 47-34 at intermission. Siakam's jumper with a minute to play in the half gave the Aggies a double-digit lead that they would never relinquish.

ACU got 13 points from both Bobby Gray and Brandon Newman, with Sharif Watson adding 12 points and Chris Sterling 11. Jackson Helms and Sterling each grabbed five rebounds for the Firestorm.