NMSU Men's Basketball Defeats Bethune-Cookman 89-73

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Career night for Braxton Huggins and Sidy N’Dir on offense guided the New Mexico State men’s basketball team past Bethune-Cookman, 89-73, Sunday afternoon in its second game of the University of San Diego Classic.

“They played really well,” Aggie head coach Paul Weir said. “We went from down to up. The second 20 minutes we just didn’t play well, and that’s probably where the substitution, the depth and all that kind of caught up to us a little bit. No excuse, it still wasn’t a very good 20 minutes, but I thought the 15 minutes post was the difference in the game.”

After trailing Bethune-Cookman the first 9:20 minutes of action, NM State (3-2) erupted in the latter part of the first half and went on a 34-8 run to take a 50-29 lead heading into the break. Huggins scored 17 of his career-high 28 points in the opening half on 3-of-3 shooting beyond the arc on top of his 8-of-10 effort behind the line.

N’Dir also chipped in with 10 points in the opening stanza – including a thunderous dunk at the 1:11 mark that forced a Wildcat (2-2) timeout.

As a team, the Aggies were red-hot from the floor during that stretch – shooting 58.3-percent from the floor on top of a ridiculous 70-percent from downtown (7-10). NM State was also able to capitalize on the offensive glass, turning six offensive boards into 13 point in the first half.

As much as Huggins paced the Aggies in the first half, it was N’Dir that led the charge in the second half for NM State. The Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, France, product recorded 16 of his career-high 26 points in the second-half and finished 9-of-13 from the field.

Huggins, a 6-3 guard from Bakersfield, Calif., didn’t cool down one bit after halftime and shot 3-of-4 from the floor – including two of his five triples in the game.

The Aggies’ largest lead of the game, 70-44, came at the 11:38 mark when Joe Garza drained a 3-pointer as time expired on the shot clock. From there, NM State managed its lead before cruising to an 89-73 victory over the Wildcats for its second win in the San Diego Classic.

The 11 shots from downtown by the Aggies on Sunday was the first time since Jan. 30, against UT Rio Grande Valley where the team made 10-plus 3-pointers. The 26 made free-throws is the most this season with the last time NM State hitting 25 or more shots at the charity stripe came against Seattle U (Feb. 20) at home this past season.

New Mexico State played with just seven players for 36:09 minutes of the game after a scuffle that occurred on the court with 16:09 left to go in the first half. NM State’s Ian Baker and Bethune-Cookman’s Quinton Forrest were ejected while another five Aggies were ejected for leaving the bench and entering the court during the scuffle. Two members of the Aggie coaching staff were also removed from the game due to them stepping on the court to prevent any escalation between the two teams.

The Aggies remain at home this week with another quick turnaround as NM State entertains Nicholls State (2-2) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22, in the third game of the San Diego Classic. The Colonels recent lost 81-72 to host, San Diego, on the road.

POSTGAME NOTES: The last time NM State had two players score 20-plus points was against UTRGV on Jan. 30 of this past season…the five 3-pointers by Huggins on Sunday was the most since Baker knocked down six at UTEP on Dec. 19, 2015…the last time NM State shot above a .500 clip was back on Feb. 13 of this year at Chicago State…Garza recorded his first collegiate points against Bethune-Cookman when he swished a 3-pointer with 2:33 on the clock in the first quarter before finishing with eight points…Jermaine Haley, who made his collegiate debut last Friday at UNM, also scored his first collegiate points on Sunday…the redshirt freshman recorded his first point at the free-throw line and made his first field goal on a jumper with 3:37 left to play…the four assists by N’Dir tied a career-high for the redshirt sophomore.