Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - On a night where two former New Mexico State men’s basketball players were recognized for their induction into the US Bank/NM State Hall of Fame, the Aggies put a complete display of athleticism on both sides of the ball as they torched Seattle U 86-53 in the Pan American Center Saturday night.
NM State (24-5, 10-3 WAC) played the way Aggie fans were accustomed to seeing them during the 20-game winning-stretch on Saturday. The offense only turned the ball over seven times, matching its lowest mark this season for the third time while forcing the Redhawks to commit 14 – nine of which came in the second half.
The Aggie offense fired on all cylinders in the first half as it headed into the locker room on top 42-23 while shooting 16-of-32 from the floor. Eli Chuha, who finished with a game-high 17 points, went 4-for-4 in the first before finishing the night 7-of-7. The 6-7 forward also tallied his 13th double-double of the year with 11 rebounds, four from the offensive glass, to go with his 17 points.
New Mexico State’s defensive pressure didn’t let down in the second half as it turned nine Seattle U turnovers into 15 points. The Aggie offense also outplayed SU in the paint, outscoring the Redhawks 20-4 in the second stanza alone before finishing with a 36-12 edge in the paint. Tanveer Bhullar also contributed for the Aggies in the paint, going 5-for-6 in the paint for a season-high 11 points and five boards in 14 minutes of action – the most since Nicholls State back in November.
Despite SU holding Ian Baker to zero points for the first time since his freshman year, he found a way to help his team by dishing out nine assists with a pair of steals. Oddly enough, the last the Washington, D.C. native was held scores was against the Redhawks in the WAC Tournament Quarterfinals on March 13, 2014.
NM State also found its groove on the perimeter, making 10-of-30 from beyond the arc on Saturday behind Braxton Huggins (4), Chancellor Ellis (3) and Matt Taylor (3). Ellis also had season-high in points with nine – all of which came from deep.
The Aggies now get a week off before hosting UT Rio Grande Valley for their final game of the regular-season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (MT) in the Pan American Center as NM State prepares to honor its senior class.
During halftime, the NM State Athletic Department honored four former Aggies into the US Bank/NM State Hall of Fame. Two of the four Aggies inducted were former basketball players, James Moore and Billy Joe Price. Moore was on hand for the ceremony while Price's wife (Deanne), daughter (Allison) and brother (Dorie) were in attendance to accept his plaque on his behalf after the All-American lost his battle to cancer in 1989.
POSTGAME NOTES: Saturday was just the seventh time this season NM State has sank 10 or more shots from 3-point land…the 20 assists is also the fourth time the Aggies have dished out 20-plus dimes…the eight steals against Seattle U is just the third time NM State has had eight or more steals in a game.