NMSU Men's Basketball Defeats Nicholls State 86-74 Behind Career Night From Jemerrio Jones

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Paced by a pair of 20-point performances from Jemerrio Jones and Braxton Huggins, the NM State men’s basketball team breezed to an 86-74 victory in the second half Tuesday night at the Pan American Center.

“The guys responded, which was really, really good to see. That was probably the first time that I have seen them respond to that yet, you know. We really just doubled down on what we already do and have to go out there and do it better…and that’s what we did. We got some key stop sand some key rebounds too.”

After an opening 3-pointer by Sidy N’Dir, the Colonel’s Johnathan Bell reeled off nine-straight points before Jalyn Pennie put an end to the run with a jumper to cut the Nicholls lead to 9-5. Pennie’s bucket led to an 8-0 run for the Aggies before things got knotted up at 15 with 13:09 left in the half.

Huggins didn’t cool down at all between games, knocking down 4-of-5 shots from downtown in the first half to keep the Aggies within 44-43 of Nicholls State heading into the locker room. As well as Huggins was shooting, Jones was having just as much of a feast in the interior with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting at the half.

After an exchange of leads to open the second stanza, the Aggies jumped into high-gear on the defensive end which catapulted them to a 59-47 lead after Joe Garza drained a three that forced Nicholls State head coach Richie Riley to call a timeout.

However, it was too little too late for the Colonels at that point as the Aggies took its largest lead of the night with 7:14 left to play on an Eli Chuha lay-in, 72-57. Nicholls State brought it within 78-69 on a 3-pointer from Lafayette Rutledge, who finished with a team-high 23 points on 5-of-9 shooting beyond the arc and an 8-for-10 night at the line.

New Mexico State finished the game with an 8-0 run and knocked down four of its last five shots. Huggins wrapped up his night knocking down 5-of-7 from the floor, all from 3-point range, while Jones went 11-of-15 from the floor while pulling down a season-high nine boards – six of which came on the offensive glass.

“He brings just a lot of skills we don’t have a lot of anywhere else,” Weir said of Jones. “I think we have players that have certain skills sets but his is very unique and we don’t have a lot of it. He’s a very gifted defender in the backcourt and he’s really good on the ball defensively. In the backcourt he creates a lot of problems in our press. He really sees the court well. Tonight, because he’s such a good passer, it opened up the floor for him.”

The win moves NM State to 4-2 on the year and 3-0 in the San Diego Classic with wins over Samford, Bethune-Cookman and Nicholls State tonight.

The Aggies will now enjoy their short Thanksgiving Break before flying to sunny San Diego for a bout with the host, San Diego, at 3 p.m. (MT) on Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

POSTGAME NOTES: With four wins already this season at home, the Aggies need just seven more wins in the Pan American Center to reach 600 with 13 contests remaining at home this season…N’Dir’s four assists tied his total last Sunday, which was a career-high for the redshirt, sophomore…last time NM State had four players reach double-figures was back in March of last season against CSU Bakersfield in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament…the Aggies have had a player reach the 20-point plateau five times so far this season…as a team, the Aggies finished the night shooting 62-percent from the floor for the first time since they did it against Northern New Mexico (.600) in a neutral site match at the Santa Ana Star Center.