PHOENIX – Senior guard Kevin Aronis scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting to lead the New Mexico State men’s basketball team to an 84-62 win over Grand Canyon University in GCU Arena, Saturday, Jan. 4.
Aronis tied a career-high with six 3-pointers made as he went 6-of-8 from the behind the 3-point line. The Aggies as a team shot 47.4 percent from behind the arc hitting 9-of-19. Junior guard Daniel Mullings added 15 points, while junior guard DK Eldridge marked his second double-double of the year with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“Nephawe did a fantastic job on the defensive end tonight and it was great to get quality possessions while we had the lead,” said head coach Marvin Menzies. “The team was really excellent and they came out ready to play especially with this being our first WAC road game.”
Sophomore center Sim Bhullar did not play in the game this evening as he is resting a bruised foot and is on a day-to-day basis and could be ready by the time the NM State plays Seattle U on Thursday, Jan. 9 in the Pan American Center.
The Aggies scored their first four points of the game in the paint taking away the thought that their interior offense would be lacking without Bhullar. Senior Renaldo Dixon and junior Tshilidzi Nephawe each had four points in the half, while sophomore Matej Buovac added five points playing a strong forward position.
NM State took an 11 point lead at 21-10 with 12:05 left in the half when Buovac hit a 3-pointer and eventually took its largest lead of the half at 34-20 when Aronis hit another 3-point shot with 6:10 on the clock. Aronis hit his fifth trey of the game with :35 seconds left in the half to give his team a 45-31 lead heading into the locker room.
Nephawe scored the first three points for the Aggies in the second half, all on free throws, and the Aggies took a 48-36 lead after his third free throw made at the 18:06 mark. NM State went up by 16 when junior guard DK Eldridge took the ball to the basket making a lay-up then scored his 11th and 12th points of the game making two free throws with 12:12 in the game. Junior guard KC Ross-Miller hit two free throws at the 10:05 mark to give the Aggies a 65-50 lead, while extending his consecutive free throws made streak to 34.
Aronis scored his 20th point of the game making a 3-pointer with 4:23 left on the clock to put the Aggies up 80-59. NM State finished the game scoring four more points and won 84-62 to take the first WAC road game of the year. Nephawe was just short of a double-double posting nine points and 11 rebounds.The Aggies head back to Las Cruces and play Seattle U in the Pan American Center, Thursday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. (MT). That game is scheduled to be televised on AggieVision and will be broadcast on the radio with ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play on KGRT 103.9 FM in Las Cruces. For tickets call the Pan American Center ticket office at 575-646-1420.