NMSU Men's Basketball Cruises Past South Florida, Advances To Cayman Islands Classic Championship Game

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

GEORGETOWN, GRAND CAYMAN - Losing is a word that has almost no association with New Mexico State basketball. That's why it was so alarming to coaches, players and fans to see the Aggies go through their early-season struggles.

Finally, after a few weeks that seemed much longer than they actually were, the Aggies started to make the right moves. Do the things they had done in the past. Look how they were supposed to look. That was especially true Tuesday.

For New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans, he witnessed 40 minutes of familiarity. Forty minutes that were long awaited and forty minutes that reminded onlookers what Aggie basketball stands for.

In a performance reminiscent of what Aggie hoops has looked like at its best, Shawn Williams led a well-balanced scoring effort with a game-high 13 points, Johnny McCants and Trevelin Queen put in 10 apiece and New Mexico State made life exceptionally difficult for USF on the offensive end to claim a 65-45 win in the Cayman Classic.

Using an offense that hit 48-percent (24-of-50) of its shots as well as a defense that held the Bulls to a shooting clip of 34-percent (16-of-47), the Aggies registered their most lopsided victory of the season over an NCAA Division I opponent and will have the opportunity to play for the Cayman Classic title Wednesday.

• Wanting to exclude the Aggies from the Cayman Classic championship game, USF came out as the aggressors early on and started the game on a 12-6 run through the first 6:32.
• Through that surge, the Bulls got dunks from Michael Durr and David Collins to energize their crowd. Collins' rim-rocker came on a fast break and put the Aggies in a 12-6 hole that they soon began to climb out of.
• Over the next 5:28, New Mexico State took off on a 14-2 run to take control of the game for good. Five different players put in points for the Aggies through that surge and Terrell Brown, McCants and Williams each hit three-pointers during it. Shunn Buchanan handed his team the lead the rest of the way by putting the finishing touches on an old-fashioned three-point play with a make at the foul line that made matters 15-14 Aggies with 9:53 left in the half.
• With their offense humming, the Aggies also turned their defense up a notch or two to extend their lead. Through the last 6:53 of the half, New Mexico State did not allow USF to put in a single field goal.
• Ezacuras Dawson drained two free throws with 6:06 left to cut the Aggies' lead to 22-20, but New Mexico State ended the half on a 10-0 run featuring five points from McCants, a jumper from Williams and a step-back triple by Jabari Rice that helped it take a 32-20 lead into the locker room at the half.
• The Bulls shot just .320/.200/1.000 in the half while New Mexico State operated at a clip of .462/.462/.500 through the opening 20 minutes.

• Hoping to cut into the Aggies' lead, the Bulls went to Laquincy Rideau right off the bat in the second half and the guard converted a jumper in the lane to pull USF within 10, but the Aggies made sure that wouldn't lead to anything more from their American Athletic Conference foes.
• Rice swirled in a put-back layup to begin an 8-0 Aggie run that pushed their lead from 10 to 18, 40-22, with 16:14 to go in the game.
• The Bulls answered with a 10-2 run of their own, which concluded with a three-pointer off the mitts of Rideau that shrank the Aggies' lead to 42-32 with 12:25 remaining. From there, Shawn Williams got going and led a game-clinching run that all but sewed things up for the Aggies.
• Fouled on a three-point try on the possession right after Rideau's long ball, Williams converted all three of his free throw tries and followed up those makes from the stripe with a pair of long-range hits that hiked New Mexico State's lead to 17, 50-33.
• Williams' personal 9-1 run was the starting points of the Aggies' massive 21-4 surge that spanned 8:26 of the deciding frame. Through that sizable surge, New Mexico State watched Rice and Queen add to its downtown barrage. After putting in 21 a little over 24 hours prior, Rice swished a triple while Queen added two more through the spurt. Queen's final long ball extended the Aggies' already massive lead to 27, 63-36, with 3:59 left.
• New Mexico State held the Bulls without a field goal for a stretch of 4:15 through the deciding half.
• The Aggies were lights out from the field in the second half, putting up shooting splits of .500/.625/.667 in the half while holding the Bulls to a line of .364/.500/.667.

• After going through their fair share of troubles from long range earlier in the year, the Aggies discovered their downtown touch in their beatdown of the Bulls. New Mexico State shot a season-best 52.4-percent (11-of-21) from three-point range which is the third-highest single-game three-point field goal percentage in Jans' tenure as head coach.
• Ten of the 13 Aggies who saw the court in the blowout netted points, none more than Williams who finished with a game-high 13 on 4-of-7 shooting. McCants put in 10 and grabbed a game-best seven rebounds as well. Hampered by foul trouble in the first half Queen put in all 10 of his points in the second half
• Shunn Buchanan dished out a game-high five assists and the Aggies registered 12 assists on their 24 made field goals.
• For the Bulls, they were held to their lowest point total since netting just 40 points in a 63-40 American Athletic Conference setback at Houston on Jan. 28, 2018.
• Rideau was the only USF player who did anything of consequence, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds and two of the Bulls' seven assists. Rideau was responsible for hitting two of his team's three-pointers, but outside of him USF shot only 3-of-13 (.231) from long range.
• Jans moved to 2-0 all-time against USF in his coaching career and pushed his record in MTE events as the Aggies' bench boss to 7-2 (.778). Additionally, Jans moved to 3-0 as New Mexico State's head coach when playing teams from the state of Florida.

• For the second time in three seasons, the Aggies will play for an MTE title. Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. MT/7:30 p.m. ET, New Mexico State will match up against either George Mason or Nebraska in the 2019 Cayman Classic title bout. The last time the Aggies played for an MTE crown came in the 2017-18 season when they tangled with USC in the championship game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.