Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Behind a season-high 26 points from Ian Baker and double-doubles from Eli Chuha and Jemerrio Jones, the NM State men’s basketball team defeated Battle of I-25 rival New Mexico 84-71 inside a raucous Pan American Center on Lou Henson night.
The win also gave NM State its first victory over UNM at home since Dec. 4, 2007, and snapped five-game skid against the Lobos.
“I think it’s big and rewarding for the all the work these guys put in,” Aggie coach Paul Weir said. “I think there are times they think I am crazy. I think there’s times that shoot, we may even be bordering a riot, as far as the expectations or the demands I have put on them. So when you push the guys that hard, they need to see something out of it. The Air Force win was great, winning at San Diego was great and winning against Long Beach was great. But something like this really kind of cements and vindicates all their work. That’s important for not only this group right now, but just our team as it evolves and grows throughout the season.”
NM State started the game with a ton of energy; streaking out to a 12-2 run five minutes into the game was capped off by a Baker steal and dunk from Jones. However, the Lobos flipped the script and went on a 9-0 of their own to cut the lead Aggie lead to 12-11.
New Mexico would cut the Aggie lead to one, 23-22, once more with 6:42 left in the first stanza before New Mexico State finished off the half with a 17-2 run. The 43-26 lead at halftime was possible thanks to Baker and Braxton Huggins, who had 13 and 11 points respectively at the break.
The start of the second-half for NM State was a bit sluggish. The Aggies didn’t get their first field-goal until the 15:19 mark when Chuha sank bucket in the paint. The Lobos got as close 48-45 minutes later in the second-half when Tim Williams hit a jumper top of the key moments later with 14:39 left on the clock.
From there, the Aggies took control the rest of the way and never surrendered its lead.
Chuha and Jones came through for NM State in the second half, hauling in 15 of the 20 Aggie rebounds. Chuha wound up with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds while Jones picked up his second double-double in as many games with 15 points and 10 boards. Huggins finished with 14-points and four boards on 4-of-8 shooting from downtown.
Another rivalry game awaits NM State now as it heads down I-10 for a battle against UTEP on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m.
POSTGAME NOTES: Weir joins his predecessor, Marvin Menzies, on the list of first-year head coaches who defeated UNM at home in their first year…this is the second time in as many games NM State has had two players register a double-double (Chuha and Jones)…half of NM State’s field goals came off assists (13-of-26)…NM State is now 7-0 when out-rebounding its opponents…the win also extended NM State’s home winning-streak to 16, spanning into last season…the Aggies’ 11 shots from downtown tied its season-high (Bethune-Cookman).