NMSU Men's Basketball Defeats Seattle 75-62 In WAC Home Opener

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A balanced offense coupled with another staunch night on defense powered New Mexico State past Seattle U 75-62 Thursday night at the Pan American Center to stay undefeated in Western Athletic Conference play.

“Obviously the game couldn’t start any better for us, we jumped on them early 12-2 and 17-4,” Aggie head coach Chris Jans said. “Unfortunately, in my experience it usually doesn’t continue that way, the other team usually fights harder to come back. The team usually leading relaxes a little bit and that’s human nature and they did that. The second half was kind of a start and stop half and we got through it and got the win.”

It didn’t feel like the Aggies (16-3, 4-0 WAC) were away from home very long the way it started the game, jumping to a 12-2 lead with 11:57 left in the first half. The NM State defense was suffocating Seattle U out of the gates, holding the Redhawks to just 1-of-8 form the field with four turnovers during that stretch.

In the latter half of the first stanza, SU (13-8, 2-2 WAC) began to hit some shots and closed within 25-17 of the Aggies, but a 12-7 run capped off by two free throws from AJ Harris gave NM State a 37-22 advantage at the break.

The second-half was a fairly clean through the first two media timeouts with the first Aggies foul not occurring until the 12:44 mark with NM State on top 47-36.

Johnny McCants and Jemerrio Jones gave Aggie nation a show in the second-half, especially the alley-oop jam from Harris to McCants that shook the Borderlands. Jones was not to be bested by McCants, Jones found Zach Lofton on the fast break with a no-look behind the head pass that got the crowd boisterous once again.

Shortly after a 3-pointer from Matej Kavas closed Seattle U within 49-46 of the Aggies, a 10-4 by New Mexico State had it push its lead back to 59-50 after SU’s head coach called a timeout immediately after Kavas’ jumper.

Harris gave NM State a 73-57 lead with 3:04 left to play on a hard drive to the rack and finished with a nice scoop. Free throws from Chuha put the finishing touches on the game before Coach Jans cleared out the starters with a standing ovation from the Aggie faithful.

Despite playing just five minutes in the first-half due to foul trouble, Lofton finished with a team-high 15 points and five rebounds while Eli Chuha added 14points of his own. Sidy N’Dir chipped in with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting while Jones rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double.

NM State converted 16 Seattle U turnovers into 21 points, which ended up being a huge factor on the game…the Aggies also beat the Redhawks in the battle of the boards 38-32, including a 14-7 edge on the offensive glass…NM State has now dished out 10-plus assists in 17-of-19 games this season…NM State is now also on a five-game winning-streak, which matched a season-high that it hit twice earlier this season.

The Aggies remain at home this Saturday as they play host to Utah Valley at 4 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 20, in a battle of the two remaining unbeaten in conference play. Adam Young will have the call on the WAC Game of the Week while former Aggie assistant Rus Bradburd serves as the analyst.