Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
EDINURG, TX - The New Mexico State men’s basketball team made its return to the win column Saturday night as it outscored UT Rio Grande Valley 107-101 on the road. The Aggies shot 55-percent (33-for-60) from the floor while the Vaqueros had a .485 shooting clip (33-for-68).
The Aggies move to 23-4 on the year and 9-2 on the season in Western Athletic Conference play to keep them within striking distance of first-place CSUB. Ian Baker led all scorers with a career-high 36 points on 11-of-18 shooting to go with his seven assists and four assists.
Johnathon Wilkins got the Aggie offense going early on, hitting the his first three field-goal attempts and forced UTRGV (10-18, 2-9 WAC) to call a timeout after Braxton Huggins knocked down a triple to give NM State the 7-0 lead.
The home team answered with an 8-0 run to close within 9-8 before three-consecutive triples from Antonio Green gave UTRGV a 19-12 edge. That lead, however, would be short-live as New Mexico State went for 11-straight points to take the 23-21 lead with 11:45 on the clock.
Both teams exchanged baskets the rest of the second half as NM State held a 50-45 lead heading into the break.
After a 3-pointer from Huggins to start the second half, a 7-0 run ensued for the Vaqueros and closed the gap to 65-63 at the 15:22 media timeout. Every time the Aggies would gain momentum, UTRGV went on a short run to make it a one-possession game.
Baker gave the Aggies their largest lead of the game late in the second half (92-83) when he knocked down a step-back jumper to cap off a 7-0 run.
UTRGV answered each NM State basket with one of its own in the last 7:19 of the game, but a big second half from Baker, Huggins and Eli Chuha propelled NM State back into the win column.
Chuha scored 15 of his 17 points in the second frame to go with his seven boards while Huggins recorded 16 of his 23 points. Baker also dropped 20 of his 36 points in the second half. Jemerrio Jones nearly picked up his 10th double-double of the season, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds.
New Mexico State now returns home where it’ll finish up WAC play in the friendly confines of the Pan American Center where it has won 14-straight this season and 23-straight spanning into last season. The Aggies have also enjoyed 39-straight WAC victories at home as they play host to Utah Valley (Feb. 23) and Seattle U (Feb. 25) this upcoming week. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. (MT) with Thursday’s game against UVU set to be broadcast on ESPN3 and other FOX Sports affiliates.
POSTGAME NOTES: NM State’s 22 assists on Saturday was the second-most this season, tying its number set at Arizona State (Dec. 17)…the NM State has now reached double-digits in the assist category in 24-of-27 games this season…the last time NM State had two players score 20-plus points was at UMKC (Jan. 5) when Huggins had 31 and Eli Chuha had 20…NM State finished with 10 3-pointers Saturday night…the last time the Aggies hit 10-plus shots from downtown was against Chicago State (Feb. 4) at home (14) and just the fifth time they’ve reached double-figures this season...the 10 turnovers committed by NM State is the fourth-lowest this season.