NMSU Men's Basketball Downs Arkansas-Pine Bluff 65-40

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Between the interior play of senior Ivan Aurrecoechea, the inaugural appearance of Evan Gilyard II in a New Mexico State uniform and a shot by Bryce Rewalt that sent the Aggies - and their fans - into hysterics - there were not too many things to feel bad about in the Pan Am Center Wednesday night.

Getting a win merely represented putting a bow on the entire package.

Back on their home floor after a tough game up in Albuquerque, the Aggies got back in the win column by receiving 19 points and nine rebounds from Aurrecoechea and outscored Arkansas-Pine Bluff 25-9 through the last 10 minutes to pick up a 65-40 victory over the Golden Lions.

After receiving word earlier in the morning that Gilyard II - a former UTEP star - was eligible for the remainder of the season and beyond, the Aggies received a shot in the arm without even needing to step on the court. Once they did, though, they held the Lions to just 40 points - the lowest point total by an Aggie opponent this season and the second-lowest total by a New Mexico State adversary in Chris Jans' tenure as head coach.

FIRST HALF
• At no point did the Aggies find themselves trailing as Aurrecoechea started a 13-5 New Mexico State run with a hook shot 1:04 into the tilt. The senior put in seven of the Aggies' 13 points during that run to start the tilt and Shawn Williams finished it by canning a straightaway three-pointer off of an assist from Gilyard II.
• DeQuan Morris pulled Arkansas-Pine Bluff within five, 16-11, by splashing a long two-pointer with 7:44 left in the half, but the Aggies answered with a 13-4 run to close out the half.
• Six different Aggies generated points through that run including Gilyard II who laced a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock to put his team ahead 25-13 with 2:42 left in the frame. Four of the Aggies' six buckets through that stretch came off of assists including Johnny McCants' two-handed flush he threw down after latching on to a pass from Trevelin Queen.

SECOND HALF
• Hoping to spring the upset, the Golden Lions hit six of their first nine field goal attempts of the second half. Despite that hot start, the Aggies were never threatened as they answered each bucket Arkansas-Pine Bluff conjured up with one of their own. Jabari Rice finished off a three-point play with a make at the foul line with 14:28 to go, but after that the Aggies were held scoreless for a stretch of 4:22.
• It was after Jordan McNair converted a runner in the lane that trimmed the Aggies' lead to 40-31 that the home team cast aside doubt as to which squad was superior.
• Queen started the home team's game-ending 25-9 run with a three-pointer from the near wing and the Aggies' lead never dipped below 10 points for the rest of the night. Queen swished another triple during that backbreaking surge while C.J. Bobbitt and Jabari Rice each cashed in on corner threes as well.
• Before all was said and done, one other Aggies dialed long distance. With 1:02 left, Rewalt took a pass on the near wing from Gilyard II and swirled in a downtown make that sent the Aggie bench into hysterics. The walk-on - and Las Cruces native - accounted for the game's final points with that make from three-point land.
• Rewalt's three-pointer capped a second-half shooting effort that saw the hosts put up shooting splits of .440/.429/.667 in order to secure the win.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• Unquestionably the focal point of the Aggies' offense, Aurrecoechea matched his season high with 19 points. The senior did so on an extremely efficient 5-of-6 night from the field while putting up season-highs in both free throws made (nine) and free throw attempts (13).
• Rice added 17 points of his own on a 6-of-10 showing from the field while Queen chipped in 12 - eight of which came in the second half. The senior threw down three of the Aggies' four dunks on the night as well.
• All told, Gilyard II played 17 minutes in his first game in a New Mexico State uniform. In that time, the junior finished with three points, two rebounds and two assists while giving his squad another ball handler as its disposal.
• With the win, New Mexico State improved to 7-0 all-time against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and 29-0 all-time against opponents from the SWAC. Personally, Jans now owns a 4-0 head coaching record against foes from the SWAC.
• No Arkansas-Pine Bluff player finished with more than eight points and the visitors wrapped up their night with a 25-percent (3-of-12) clip from long range. The Golden Lions also attempted just six free throws, converting five of their tries.