LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State men’s basketball team is the No. 2 seed in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament and faces No. 7 seed Seattle U in the quarterfinals, Thursday, March 13 at 9:30 p.m. (MT) in The Orleans Arena. The game is scheduled to air over the radio waves in Las Cruces with ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play action. A webcast will also be available online at www.WAC.tv for a fee and live stats are available free of charge at www.NMStateSports.com. In-game score updates are given on Twitter @NMStateAggies.
Looking Ahead: If the Aggies win their quarterfinal game, they will take on the winner between No. 3 Chicago State and No. 6 Bakersfield, Friday at 9:30 p.m. (MT). The WAC Tournament Championship is scheduled for 8 p.m. (MT) and will be televised on ESPNU. All games will be aired on the Aggie Sports Network with coverage in Alamogordo (107.1 FM), Albuquerque (101.7 FM), Artesia (990 AM) and Carlsbad (1240 AM).
About the Aggies
NM State finished with a 23-9 overall record during the regular season and head into the WAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed after finishing league play at 12-4. The Aggies were just behind Utah Valley, who is the No. 1 seed after winning the WAC regular season title.
The Aggies finished the regular season winning two straight and won eight of their last 10 games. The two losses during that stretch came at the hands of Idaho (Feb. 6) and Utah Valley (Feb. 27) both on the road. NM State fell by six points to Idaho and to Utah Valley in overtime by five.
NM State put together three winning streaks of four or more wins, including two seven-game win streaks. The first win streak (7 games) started with a win over Tennessee State on Nov. 9, 2013 and ended when NM State was defeated 85-83 at Colorado State on Nov. 30, 2013. The second win streak (7 games) began when the Aggies defeated Drake 81-69 in overtime, Dec. 14, 2013 and ended when they lost to Chicago State, 86-81 on the road. The final streak was a four game win streak with wins over Seattle (Feb. 8), Kansas City (Feb. 13), Chicago State (Feb. 15) and UTPA (Feb. 20).
NM State is averaging 77.7 points per game this season while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. They are shooting well from behind the three-point arc as well, hitting 36.8 percent of their three point attempts. The NM State defense is holding its opponents to 40.1 percent from the field and out-rebounding opponents by an average of 37.4 per game to 32.6 per game (+4.8 rebounding margin).
Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads all scorers on the squad with 16.9 points per game and is also the defensive leader on the team with 59 steals on the season. Mullings is also second in the WAC in steals per game with 1.97 per game. He also has 105 assists on the year and is top ten in the league in that category.
Sophomore center Sim Bhullar returned to the court Thursday, Jan. 30, after missing six straight games due to a foot injury, leads the team and the WAC in blocked shots with 91 blocks on the year. Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is the team leader in rebounds with 7.8 rebounds per game and is second on the team and the WAC in blocked shots with 50, which includes a career high six blocks against Idaho, Jan. 11.
Senior Guard Kevin Aronis leads the Aggies in three-point shooting percentage hitting 44.2 percent of shots beyond the arc and is No. 5 in the WAC in three pointers per game with 2.19 a contest.
Senior forward/center Renaldo Dixon made 11 consecutive starts, which ended on Feb. 15, against Chicago State and is averaging 25.6 minutes per competition. He is posting 8.7 points per game and grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game.
The New Mexico State men’s basketball team defeated Grand Canyon 81-57, Thursday, March 6, 2014 in the Pan American Center for senior forward Reynaldo Dixon and senior guard Kevin Aronis’ last home game as Aggies. NM State moves to 23-9 overall and 12-4 in WAC play, while the ‘Lopes fall to 14-14 overall and 9-6 in the WAC.
Aronis scored double-digits with 17 total points in the game going 50 percent from the field hitting 5-for-10. Dixon contributed 11 rebounds, second highest against the ‘Lopes just behind center sophomore Sim Bhullar with 12 rebounds on the game. Bhullar posted a game-high 22 points making the only double-double of the game while adding a team-high five assists. Three other Aggies hit double-digit total points including junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe (15), junior guard Daniel Mullings (17), and Aronis (17). NM State shot at 44.1 percent from the field compared to Grand Canyon at 33.9 percent.
Series History Versus Seattle U
NM State has faced Seattle U five times since their first meeting in 1970. After the 1971 loss by the Aggies, there was a 42-year span before the teams met again in 2013.
The Aggies currently lead the all-time record against the Redhawks with 5-1 overall. The closest scoring margin the two teams have seen was during the 2012-2013 season when NM State beat Seattle U by one point in double overtime, 83-82.
The last meeting between the two teams was on Feb. 8, 2014 when the Aggies defeated the Redhawks, 92-77 in Seattle, Wash.
Individually, junior guard DK Eldridge led the Aggies with an average of 16.5 points per game against Seattle U this season while contributing 5.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard KC Ross-Miller hit 70.0 percent from the field going 7-for-10 against the Redhawks.
Scouting the Redhawks
Seattle U is 13-16 overall and got the No. 7 seed by going 5-11 in conference play. The Redhawks average 71.4 points per game and pull down 38.5 rebounds per game, out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 5.6 boards per game.
Seattle U is led by junior guard Isiah Umpig who was recently named a second team All-WAC selection. Umipig is averaging 19.4 points per game heading into the WAC Tournament, second in the league. He leads the conference with 3.48 made three-pointers per game, plus he is second in free throw percentage (.826), fourth in assists (3.66 assists per game), and 10th in three-point field goal percentage (.373).
Last Time against Seattle U
Red shirt junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe posted a career-high 22 points to lead the New Mexico State men’s basketball team to a 92-77 win over Seattle U, Saturday, Feb. 8 in Key Arena. The Aggies moved to 18-8 on the year and 7-3 in Western Athletic Conference play. Seattle U fell to 11-11 overall and 3-6 in league play.
Nephawe went 10-of-14 (71.4%) from the field and hit 2-of-3 free throws while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. He also added two blocks and had one steal on the defensive side of the court while playing 37 minutes. Five other Aggies scored in double figures with junior Daniel Mullings putting in 16, junior DK Eldridge scoring 15, and junior KC Ross-Miller adding 13.
NM State won the rebounding battle in the second half 17-13 and allowed only two 3-pointers, while forcing eight turnovers.
Senior Renaldo Dixon was 3-of-8 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line for 11 points and fellow senior Kevin Aronis added 10 points that included three treys and a free throw. The Aggies as a team shot 57.6 percent from the field while holding the Redhawks to a 43.5 field goal shooting percentage. NM State posted nine blocks with center Sim Bhullar leading the charge with four. Dixon and Nephawe added two blocks a piece. The Aggies had seven steals on the night with Ross-Miller coming up with a game-high three steals and Mullings adding two.
2014 All-WAC Honorees
Junior guard Daniel Mullings has been named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, while three other New Mexico State men’s basketball players earned All-WAC honors as the postseason awards were announced, Sunday, March 9.
Mullings, who was also named to the All-WAC first team and the WAC All-Defensive team, averaged 17.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists, while he was also tied for second in the league in steals with 2.0 per game. He finished the WAC regular season with 32 steals and has a total of 59 during the 2013-14 season. Mullings is the first NM State player in school history to be named the WAC’s Player of the Year and is the first WAC player to be named Preseason Player of the Year and Player of the Year during the same season since Nevada’s Deonte Burton in 2011-12.
Junior center/forward Tshilidzi Nephawe earned second team All-WAC honors after averaging 8.8 rebounds (third in league) per game and finishing with a 56.4 field goal shooting percentage (second in league) during conference play. Nephawe also led the league in blocked shots with 2.38 per game.
Sophomore center Sim Bhullar, who was named to the All-Defensive team, did not play in enough league games to be ranked in blocked shots during WAC play. Bhullar, although, averaged 3.50 blocks per game throughout the entire season leading the WAC and tallied 2.37 per game during conference games.
Junior guard DK Eldridge was named to the All-Newcomer team after finishing league play with a 46.2 field goal percentage while posting 11.6 points per game. He also grabbed 4.9 board per game and averaged 27 minutes per game. During WAC play, Eldridge tallied 38 assists, five blocks and six steal.
The complete all-WAC teams follow.
2013-14 WAC Men’s Basketball Postseason Award Winners
Killian Larson, Sr., C, Grand Canyon
Stephen Madison, Sr., F, Idaho
Daniel Mullings, Jr., G, New Mexico State
Ben Aird, Sr., C, Utah Valley
Holton Hunsaker, Sr., G, Utah Valley
Issiah Grayson, Sr., G, Bakersfield
Quinton Pippen, Sr., G/F, Chicago State
Jerome Garrison, Jr., G, Grand Canyon
Tshilidzi Nephawe, Jr., C, New Mexico State
Isiah Umipig, Jr., G, Seattle U
Player of the Year: Daniel Mullings, Jr., G, New Mexico State
Freshman of the Year: Martez Harrison, Fr., G, Kansas City
Don Haskins Coach of the Year: Dick Hunsaker, Utah Valley
Aly Ahmed, Jr., C, Bakersfield
Jerome Garrison, Jr., G, Grand Canyon
Sim Bhullar, So., C, New Mexico State
Daniel Mullings, Jr., G, New Mexico State
Mitch Bruneel, Jr., F, Utah Valley
Daniel Alexander, Jr., F, Grand Canyon
Martez Harrison, Fr., G, Kansas City
DK Eldridge, Jr., G, New Mexico State
Isiah Umipig, Jr., G, Seattle U
Zach Nelson, Fr., F, Utah Valley
Aggies in the WAC
Currently a game back of first place, the Aggies are 12-4 in WAC sitting alone in second place. NM State has the best overall record of any WAC team, going 23-9 in the season so far.
Having come off a winning feat over Bakersfield on Saturday, March 1, the Aggies continued their success with a dominating feat over Grand Canyon 81-57. The Aggies will travel to Las Vegas, NV for the WAC Tournament March 13-15 at the Orleans Arena.
The Aggies are leading the WAC in scoring (77.7 ppg), scoring margin (+10.3), field goal percentage (.488), and blocked shots per game (6.47). The Aggies also lead the WAC in defensive field goal percentage, holding their opponents to 40.1 percent from the field.
Sim Bhullar is leading the WAC in field goal percentage, hitting 65.2 percent of his attempts. Bhullar also sits atop the leader board in blocked shots with 91, averaging 3.5 blocked shots per game. Tshilidzi Nephawe is third in WAC play for rebounds, with 250 rebounds on the season and averaging 7.8 rebounds a game.
Aggies in the Nation (As of March 10)
The Aggies are third in the nation in total blocks with 207 on the year and are fifth in blocks per game averaging 6.5 per contest. NM State is also fifth in free throws attempted with 940. NM State sits at ninth in free throws made, hitting 640 from the line this season.
Sim Bhullar is fifth in the nation in blocked shots per game with 3.5 per contest and sits at 13th in the nation for total blocked shots with 91. Daniel Mullings is 51st in nationally for steals per game with 1.9 per contest and is also in the top 100 in the nation for total points with 523 for the year.
Aronis for Three
Senior Night was one to remember for senior guard Kevin Aronis. In his final outing at the Pan-American Center on March 6, 2014 against conference opponent, Grand Canyon, Aronis logged a career-high in minutes played with 33 and tied a career-high in shots attempted with 10. He finished the game with 5-10 field goal shooting while going 5-9 from beyond the arc with 17 points and three rebounds. The first three-pointer he nailed on the night, which was the 100th of his career, came at the 13:49 mark of the first half.
He also moved into the NM State top 10 list of three-point field goals made for a single season after last night’s performance. He entered the night with 68 three-pointers made on the season, but after draining five long range shots, he is now tied for sixth all time with former Aggies Jahmar Young (2007-10) and Jeff McCool (1986-89) with 73 thee pointers made on the season. Aronis currently ranks seventh on the NM State all-time career three-point field goal percentage list with a percentage of 40.8 after recently moving past former Aggie, Gordo Castillo (2007-11), who completed his career with a three-point field goal percentage of 40.7.
On the season, Aronis is leading the WAC in three-point field goal percentage in WAC only games at 50 percent. He is also fourth in the conference in three-point field goals made per game with 2.75 per contest in WAC only games. In home games, Aronis connects on 39.5 percent of his long range shots, but in away games he steps it up and nails 52.6 percent of his three-point shots.
Bhullar with another Block
Sophomore center Sim Bhullar broke the school record for blocks in a single game when he tallied 10 blocked shots in a 91-60 win over Prairie View A&M, Nov. 27 in the Pan American Center. That day the Aggies tallied 14 blocks as a team, which is also a new school record at NM State. Former Aggie All-American James Moore is the former record holder for blocks in a game as he tallied eight blocks against North Texas on Feb 7, 2004. The previous school record for blocked shots by an Aggie team was 12. NM State marked 12 blocks against Creighton, Jan. 12, 1978, and against UTSA, Feb. 2, 2013.
With four blocks against Bakersfield Saturday, March 1, 2014, in the 72-57, Bhullar broke his own single season record for blocked shots in a season with his first block, setting the new record at 89.
Bhullar currently has 176 blocks on his career and has surpassed former Aggie center Hamidu Rahman, who played for the Aggies from 2008-12, on the all-time blocked shot list at NM State after making on block against South Alabama. Bhullar has now tallied at least one block shot in 38 straight games he has played in while recording three or more blocks in 17 games this season.
Through 14 games in last season, Bhullar only had 29 blocks, compared to his 53 blocks after 17 games this season. At his current pace of 3.5 blocks per game, Bhullar is on track to block 15 shots this season, surpassing the current record holder, James Moore for blocked shots in a career.
Blocked Shots (career)
1. James Moore (2000-03), 200
2. Sim Bhullar (2012-Present), 176
3. Hamidu Rahman (2008-12), 137
4. Slab Jones (1976-80), 124
5. Charles Gosa (1995-99), 116
Blocked Shots (Season)
1. Sim Bhullar (2013-14) – 91
2. Sim Bhullar (2012-13) – 85
3. Roland Grant (1973-74) – 58
4. Sam Lacey (1968-69) – 53
5. James Moore (2000-01) – 52
Clyde Jordan (1994-95) – 52
Mullings with another steal
Guard Mullings leads the team in steals with 59 this season. Mullings has 32 steals in conference play. The Aggies have a total of 155 steals overall, with 72 in conference play.
Mullings tied a career-high seven steals against Seattle University on Jan. 9. Mullings had a total of five steals on Jan. 16 against Chicago State. NM State is averaging 4.8 steals per game compared to their opponent’s average of 5.4 steals versus the Aggies.
Mullings has196 steals on his career and is No. 3 on the all-time steals list at NM State behind former Aggie guard and Las Cruces High head coach William Benjamin, who posted 209 steals from 1988-92.
Career Steals at NM State
1. Hearnst Leroche )2008-12) 216
2. William Benjamin (1988-92) 209
3. Daniel Mullings (2012-Present) 196
4. James Moore (2000-03) 174
5. Randy Brown (1988-92) 162
Daniel Mullings moving up the all-time scoring list at NM State
Moving up the all-time scoring list junior guard and Canadian native, Daniel Mullings led the NM State men’s basketball team with 483 points during the 2012-13 season. During the 2011-12 season he tallied a total of 334 points. Prior to the start of this season Mullings needed 183 points to reach 1,000 points for NM State.
Mullings’ 1,000-career point came at the 17:32 mark in the second half of the Gonzaga game when he made two free throws. He finished the evening going 5-of-14 from the field while also making 6-of-9 free throws to finish with 17 points.
Mullings has scored 523 points this season and now has 1,340 points in his career. He is currently averaging 16.9 points per game this season and is looking to climb the all-time scoring list. Mullings currently sits at No. 12 on the list after he recently surpassed Steve Colter (1981-84) who completed his career with 1,333 points. He now needs 79 points to become No. 11 on the all-time scoring list. Ernest Patterson (1980-83) currently occupies the No. 11 spot on the all-time scoring list with 1,419 points.
Eric Channing is NM State’s all-time scoring leader with 1,862 points. Channing played for the Aggies from 1998-02. Former Aggie guard Hernst Laroche is No. 16 on the list of all-time points scored. He played under coach Menzies from 2008-12 and scored a total of 400 points in his first two years at NM State. George Knighton was the first Aggie to ever reach 1,000 points. He played for NM State from 1960-62 and scored over 1,000 points in his first two years. The most recent Aggies to enter the 1,000 Point Club were Wendell McKines, Hernst Laroche, and Hamidu Rahman in 2012. Former Aggie Billy Keys rounds out the 1,000 Point Club at No. 31 with 1,004 points in 65 games played (two seasons; 1999-00).
All-time scoring list
11. Ernest Patterson (1980-83) – 1,419
12. Daniel Mullings (2012-Present) – 1,340
13. Steve Colter (1981-84) – 1,333
14. Charles Gosa (1995-99) – 1,233
15. Johnny Roberson (1986-89) – 1,223
16. Hernst Laroche (2008-12) – 1,209
17. Keith Hill (1987-90) – 1,201
18. “Super” John Williamson (1971-73) – 1,168