NMSU Men's Basketball Defeats Arizona State 81-70

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

TEMPE, AZ - With two seconds remaining in the game, a raucous contingent of New Mexico State fans began chanting “AGGIES! AGGIES! AGGIES!” as NM State added another milestone to the list as it upended Arizona State 81-70 Saturday night in Wells Fargo Arena.

“Definitely a big win for our players and obviously our program as well,” Aggie coach Paul Weir said.

The win over ASU (6-5) was NM State’s first victory over a Power 5 team since its 64-61 victory over Northwestern in 2004-05 at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. The last true road win for the Aggies against a Power 5 opponent dated back to the 1994-95 season when Neil McCarthy’s team defeated USC in the Preseason NIT game, 97-84. It is also NM State’s first win over a Power 5 team in 14 attempts the last 10 years.

After an exchange of points to start the second half, an 18-6 run by NM State (10-2) put Arizona State over the edge as the Aggies never relinquished its lead the final 20 minutes of the game.

Braxton Huggins led all scorers with a game-high 24 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six of which came from 3-point range. Floor general Ian Baker added 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Eli Chuha tallied his fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

After layup from Kodi Justice to put Arizona State up 3-0 to open the game, New Mexico State fired right back with a 13-2 run capped off by Huggins’ second-straight 3-pointer – this time in front of the ASU bench which forced a Bobby Hurley timeout.

With a 23-16 lead at the 11:48 mark, NM State and ASU continued to exchange buckets until an 8-0 run by the Sun Devils gave them their first lead, 30-29, since the opening minutes of the game.

Moments later, Huggins drained his fourth 3-pointer of the night from the far corner to knot the game up at 32. From there, the teams exchanged a couple leads before a baseline triple from Jermaine Haley sent NM State into the locker room with a 40-38 lead over ASU.

New Mexico State now returns home to the friendly confines of the Pan American Center for another three-game homestand where it is 7-0 this season. Up first for the Aggies will be UC Irvine at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19, followed by Eastern New Mexico (Dec. 27) and Battle of I-10 rival UTEP (Dec. 30).

On the offensive efficiency…
“It was really good. We made the extra pass tonight, really throughout the game. It wasn’t even just the first half. I thought over the course of the game we did a really good job of sharing the ball and when they picked up the pressure we were making extra passes to score on the back of the press.”

On the second half…
“These guys work really hard. We talked about it last night, I think part of the reason we have been closing games better is because we are in better shape. We can make free throws late in the game, we can get stops late in the game, and we can make shots late in the game because our conditioning is so much better and these guys have worked so hard for it. I am really happy for them that they are getting some kind of reward for their work.”

On the team closing out a game on the road…
“We talked a lot about the lost opportunity at Colorado State and even the lost opportunity at The Pit. We talked a lot about that leading into this game. A school at our level, we don’t get a lot of chances like this where as schools like Arizona State get 20 of these a year in conference and non-conference. We don’t get a lot of these opportunities so we really have to maximize them. I feel like we had a couple slip away earlier this year and this is one we just had to grab and thankfully we were able to do it.”

POSTGAME NOTES: Last time NM State started the season with 10 wins came in 1993-94 where it was 16-1 before dropping just its second game of the year…this is the fifth-straight game NM State has shot over .500 for the season…the 11 shots from downtown by the Aggies ties the season-high…Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley was tossed from the game at the 9:47 mark...sitting with foul trouble, this is the first time Jemerrio Jones has been held under double-digits in seven contests.