NMSU Men's Basketball Wins At CSU Bakersfield, One Win Away From Perfect Conference Regular Season

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

BAKERSFIELD, CA - The last time the NM State men's basketball team set foot inside the Icardo Center, it took nothing short of a miracle for it to exit with a victory.

Saturday night, in the final WAC tilt to be played inside the facility, nobody needed to play the role of hero for the Aggies. Their defensive effort made sure of that.

Johnny McCants piled up 14 points, Terrell Brown added 12 more and the Aggies showed off just how potent one of the nation's best scoring defenses can by when operating at peak efficiency by holding CSU Bakersfield to its lowest scoring output in two years during a 62-46 suffocation of the Roadrunners.

FIRST HALF
• De'Monte Buckingham handed the home team their lone lead of the game with a three-pointer on the opening possession of the game. From there, the Aggies started to show off their long-distance shooting prowess by getting a pair of downtown hits by McCants and another from Evan Gilyard II to fuel a 9-0 run that put the visitors ahead for good.
• The Roadrunners managed to stay within striking distance by working the ball inside. That yielded a number of layups and made free throws and Taze Moore's long two with 10:40 left cut the Aggies' edge to 16-13.
• Following that jumper, NM State reeled off seven consecutive points in the span of 1:32 to move ahead by double-digits. Shunn Buchanan connected on a long ball before McCants was awarded a bucket as a result of a goaltending call on the Roadrunners to hike the Aggies' advantage to 23-13 with 8:45 left in the stanza.
• Justin Edler-Davis helped the Roadrunners stage their last comeback bid of the game by scoring seven straight points for the home team that helped it pull within 25-20 at the 6:32 mark. After that, a three-point play by Gilyard II kick-started a 5-0 Aggie surge that put the visitors back up by double-digits.
• NM State took a 32-22 lead to the locker room after Jabari Rice knocked down a pair of free throws with two ticks left in the half. CSU Bakersfield shot a dismal 2-of-11 (18.2-percent) from long range in the half while NM State connected on 41.7-percent (10-of-24) of its shots in that same span.

SECOND HALF
• Hoping to put the Roadrunners away early on in the deciding frame, the Aggies were able to do just that as McCants began an 8-2 NM State run with his third three-pointer of the night just 60 seconds into the stanza.
• Ivan Aurrecoechea put a massive exclamation point on that run by driving baseline for a one-handed slam that forced the Roadrunners to call time as they trailed 40-24 with 16:49 left.
• NM State's lead never dipped below 12 points the rest of the way and it increased to as much as 19 when Trevelin Queen hit a runner in the lane to make matters 45-26 with 13:11 to go.
• A 9-2 Roadrunner surge capped off by a Justin McCall jumper managed to get the home team within 12, 47-35, with 8:35 remaining, but the Aggies used the long ball to put CSU Bakersfield away.
• Brown cashed in on a pair of threes, McCants hit one more, Queen drained another and Gilyard II called buckets on one of his own to represent the last five NM State field goals of the night. All of those three-pointers came through the final 7:51 of the game and the Aggies held the Roadrunners scoreless for a stretch of nearly four minutes down the stretch to help put the game on ice.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• McCants' hot start helped the junior continue to cook for the rest of the night. The Las Cruces, N.M., product finished with a team-high 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting which included a 4-of-4 clip from three-point range.
• Back in his home state, Brown chipped in 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from long distance. Elsewhere in the box score, Gilyard II flirted with a triple-double by finishing with nine points, six rebounds and a game-high six assists.
• Three-point shooting was a big key to NM State's success Saturday night. NM State drilled 44.8-percent (13-of-29) of their tries from long distance while the Roadrunners were successful on just 26.7-percent (4-of-15) of their attempts.
• CSU Bakersfield was paced by Moore who pumped in a game-best 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Edler-Davis added 12 and together he and Moore went 12-of-22 (54.5-percent) from the field. The rest of the Roadrunners, however, didn't fare too well and shot only 26.9-percent (7-of-26) for the game.
• NM State moved back into a tie with fourth-ranked Dayton for the nation's longest winning streak. Both teams have won 18-straight and the Aggies' victory was also their 30th-consecutive WAC regular season win and the team's 33rd in a row against WAC foes.
• The win was also the Aggies' 15th consecutive road win in WAC play. That's the longest active streak in the nation.
• CSU Bakersfield's 46 points were the fewest allowed to a WAC opponent this season by the Aggies. They're also the third-fewest given up in a WAC game in Chris Jans' tenure as NM State's head coach.
• Speaking of Jans, the win marked his 82nd at New Mexico State which moved him up into a tie for sixth place with Weldon Drew on the list of all-time coaching victories in the history of the program.

COMING UP NEXT
• One more to do something special. That's the case for the Aggies as they return to the Pan Am Center for their regular-season WAC finale Thursday night against California Baptist. Tip-off has been slated for 7:00 p.m. as the Aggies seek to become just the third team in WAC history to complete a regular season schedule without a league loss. The tilt with the Lancers will also serve as senior night for the Aggies' senior class and a postgame ceremony will be held to celebrate their accomplishments.