Aggies Host Grand Canyon University on ‘Senior Night,’ Thursday in the Pan American Center
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  03/04/2014

NM State vs. Grand Canyon Coverage

Television: AggieVision - ESPN3.com - Comcast (in New Mexico)

Radio: KGRT 103.9 FM (play-by-play: ‘Voice of the Aggies’ - Jack Nixon)

Live Stats: www.NMStateSports.com (click on live events link)

Twitter: @NMStateAggies

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team plays its final regular season game of the 2013-14 taking on Grand Canyon (14-13, 9-5 WAC), Thursday, March 6 at 7 p.m. (MT) in the Pan American Center. Thursday is also ‘Senior Night’ as the athletics department will be honoring senior guard Kevin Aronis and senior forward Renaldo Dixon as they play their final game in Las Cruces. The game airs on the radio in Las Cruces on KGRT 103.9 FM with ‘Voice of the Aggies,’ Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play action. The game is also being produced for television by the AggieVision Production team. Check with your local cable or satellite provider for air times. Live stats are available online at www.NMStateSports.com and in-game score updates are given on Twitter @NMStateAggies.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies will play in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Thursday, March 13 through Saturday, March 15 at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.  The Aggies are currently the No. 2 seed and if it remains that way they would take on the No. 7 seed at 9:30 p.m. (MT) on Thursday, March 13.  Idaho is currently the No. 7 seed. 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).

Post-Game Interviews

Fans and media can access post-game video interviews with head coach Marvin Menzies and selected players after each game on-line at www.NMStateSports.com by clicking on the game recap.

About the Aggies

The Aggies are 22-9 overall and 11-4 in Western Athletic Conference play after picking up a 72-57 win over Bakersfield March 1, Saturday.  NM State sits at second in the WAC behind Utah Valley.

The Aggies went into Saturday’s game after a loss to Utah Valley in overtime, 66-61, in Orem, Utah, Feb. 27.  Prior to the loss the Aggies had a four game win streak with wins over Seattle, Feb. 8, followed by a two game home stretch against Kansas City on Feb. 13 and Chicago State Feb. 15 before hitting the road again beating Texas Pan-American Feb. 20.

NM State is averaging 77.6 points per game this season while shooting 49.0 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 40.3 percent from the field and out-rebounding opponents by an average of 37.0 per game to 32.7 per game (+4.3 rebounding margin).

Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads all scorers on the squad with 17.0 points per game and is also the defensive leader on the team with 59.0 steals on the season.  Mullings is also second in the WAC in steals per game with 1.97 per game.  He also has 102 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 89 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 49, which includes a career high six blocks against Idaho Jan. 11.

Senior Guard Kevin Aronis leads the Aggies in three-point shooting percentage hitting 43.6 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 25.7 minutes per competition.  He is posting 8.8 points per game and grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game.

Looking Back

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team defeated Bakersfield 72-57, Saturday, March 1, 2014 in Bakersfield, Calif. as sophomore center Sim Bhullar and junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe each posted double-doubles. NM State moved to 22-9 overall and 11-4 in WAC play, while the Runners fell to 12-17 overall and 5-10 in the WAC.

Bhullar posted 13 points while grabbing 12 rebounds and adding a team-high five blocks. Nephawe marked a game-high 15 points to go along with a career-high 16 rebounds and five total blocks. Three other Aggies hit double-digit total points including junior guard DK Eldridge (12), junior guard Daniel Mullings (14), and freshman guard Travon Landry (12). NM State shot at 51.0 percent from the field and went 26-51 at the line.

Series History versus Grand Canyon

This will be the third meeting between NM State and Grand Canyon. The first game between the two teams ended with a win by the Aggies 75-60 on Jan. 10, 1984. During the 2013-2014, NM State came out with their second win against Grand Canyon 84-62 in Phoenix, Ariz. on Jan. 4, 2014.

Jan. 10, 1984 … Home … 75-60

Jan. 4, 2014 … Away … 84-62

Scouting the ‘Lopes

The ‘Lopes are currently sitting at a 14-13 overall record and 9-5 conference record. Grand Canyon is coached by Dan Majerle, who is in his first season with the team. Jerome Garrison is the top scorer for the ‘Lopes and Killian Larson is the top returning rebounder. GCU is currently sitting in the No. 3 spot on the WAC standings, however, is not eligible to participate in post-season play. 

Last time against the ‘Lopes

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 on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.

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.

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.

Aggies in the WAC

Currently a game back of first place, the Aggies are 11-4 in WAC sitting alone in second place.  NM State has the best record overall record of any WAC team, going 22-9 in the season so far.

Having come off a tough overtime loss (66-61) to Utah Valley in Orem, Utah, on Feb. 27, the Aggies dominated Bakersfield on Saturday, March 1, getting the road win 72-57.  The Aggies will face Grand Canyon Thursday, March 6, in the Pan Am.

The Aggies are leading the WAC in scoring (77.6 ppg) scoring margin (+9.9), field goal percentage (49.0) and blocked shots per game (6.52).  The Aggies also lead the WAC in defensive field goal percentage, holding their opponents to 40.3 percent from the field.

Sim Bhullar is leading the WAC in field goal percentage, hitting 64.1 percent of his attempts.  Bhullar also sits atop the leader board in blocked shots with 89, averaging 3.56 blocked shots a game.  Tshilidzi Nephawe is third in WAC play for rebounds, with 241 total rebounds on the season and averaging 7.8 rebounds a game.  

Aggies in the Nation (As of March 3)

The Aggies are third in the nation in blocked shots with 202 on the year and are also third in free throws attempted with 910.  NM State sits at fifth in free throws made, hitting 617 from the line this season.  Sitting at fifth in blocked shots per game, the Aggies are averaging 6.5 blocks per contest. 

Sim Bhullar is fifth in the nation in blocked shots per game with 3.56 per contest and sits at 13th in the nation for total blocked shots with 89.  Daniel Mullings is 41st in the nation for steals per game with 1.97 per contest and is also in the top 100 in the nation for total points with 506 for the year. 

Seniors Kevin Aronis and Renaldo Dixon

Senior guard, Kevin Aronis, has carved out a nice role during his career at NM State with his long range shooting. Aronis has led the Aggies in three point field goals made in each of his two seasons with the squad, while upping his percentage from 34.4 percent from downtown in his first year to a scorching 43.7 percent this year which also leads the team. In conference play, Aronis leads the league in three point percentage with a blazing 49.4 percent from downtown. In his two years at New Mexico State, Aronis has knocked down at least two three pointers in 31 games and he has nailed four three pointers or more in six games. The most three pointers he has made in one game is six, which he has done twice. The first time came against Northern New Mexico on Dec. 21, 2013 in a crushing 97-47 victory where he started at shooting guard for the first time at NM State and recorded 18 points which led all scorers, while going 6-10 from beyond the arc and logging a career-high 28 minutes. The second time came against Grand Canyon on Jan. 1, 2014 in which that Aggies also came away victorious by a score of 84-62. He scored a career-high 20 points off the bench on 7-10 field goals and 6-8 three point field goals. With a career 40.2 percent from downtown, Aronis is currently eighth all-time for the Aggies in three point field goal percentage just above Elijah Ingram (2005-07) who finished his career with a three point percentage of 40.1. With 68 three point field goals made on the season,  Aronis is also two three pointers away from tying Eric Channing and Elijah Ingram for 10th place on the single season all-time three point field goals made list for the Aggies. The next game for NM State comes against Grand Canyon. This will be the final home game for Kevin Aronis. If he nails one three pointer in that game, that will be his 100th three point field goal made for his career.

In his final season with NM State, Dixon has been a key member of the frontcourt for the Aggies. When starting center, Sim Bhullar, went down with an injury, Dixon stepped up big for the Aggies. In six games as a starter without Bhullar, Dixon averaged 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks with a 62.7 field goal percentage and an 80 percent free throw percentage. The highlight of that six game stretch came in a losing effort against Kansas City on Jan. 18, 2014 when Dixon recorded a career-high 33 points along with eight rebounds and three blocks. A do it all player for the Aggies, Dixon is second on the squad in free throw percentage (77.1) and field goal percentage (56.6) and he also ranks third in blocks (30). Dixon has recorded two double-doubles in his career including one this season. The first came against San Jose State on Feb. 14, 2013 where the Aggies won 67-57 on the road. He finished the game with 10 points on 3-6 field goals and 4-6 from the line and he also pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds on the night. The second double-double came against Kansas City on Feb. 13, 2014 where the Aggies won 71-48 at home. Dixon scored 11 points on 4-10 field goals and 3-3 from the line to go along with 10 rebounds. Dixon has scored in double-digits 18 times in his career with New Mexico State.

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 previous record holder for blocks in a game when 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, 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 167 blocks on his career and has surpassed former Aggie center Hamidu Rahman, who played for NM State from 2008-12, on the all-time blocked shot list at NM State after making one block against South Alabama.  Bhullar has tallied at least one block in 37 straight games he has played in while recording three or more blocks in 12 games this season.

Through 14 games in in last season, Bhullar only had 29 blocks, compared to his 53 blocks after 17 games this season.  At his current pace of 3.43 blocks per game, Bhullar is on track to block 108 shots this season, smashing the current single season blocks record at NM State, which he currently holds at 89.

Blocked Shots (Career)

1. James Moore (2002-03) -200

2. Sim Bhullar (2012-Present) -174

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) -89

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 Daniel Mullings leads the team in steals with 59 this season.  Mullings has 32 steals in conference play.  That aggies gave a total of 140 steals overall, with 61 in conference.

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 4.9 steals per game compared to their opponent’s average of 5.5 steals versus the Aggies.

Mullings has 196 steals on his career and is No. 3 on the all-time steals list at NM State behind former Aggie guard and current 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 506 points this season and now has 1,323 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. 13 on the list after he recently surpassed Charles Gosa (1995-99) who completed his career with 1,233 points. He now needs 11 points to become No. 12 on the all-time scoring list. Steve Colter (1981-84) currently occupies the No. 12 spot on the all-time scoring list with 1,333 points. If Mullings records his 17 points per game average, he will finish the end of the regular season ranked 12th on the all-time scoring list behind Ernest Patterson (1980-83) who finished his career 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. 15 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. Steve Colter (1981-84) – 1,333

13. Daniel Mullings (2012-Present) – 1,323

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

Foreign Players at NM State

 Out of 524 NCAA Division I players, the Aggies are recognized for a team that has a large amount of foreign players on the roster. With seven foreigners, Eastern Washington, Maine and Nicholls St. join NM State as having the highest number of foreign players with a majority coming from Canada and Australia.

Center Tshilidzi Nephawe, from Johannesburg, South Africa is the team leader with 7.8 rebounds per game and has 241 total this season. Sim Bhullar, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada leads the team in blocked shots with 89.  Daniel Mullings, also from Toronto, leads the team in scoring averaging 16.9 points per contest and a total of 59 steals this season.

Also from Toronto, Renaldo Dixon is averaging 8.8 points per game and 5.6 rebounds, playing 25.7 minutes per game.  Bhullar also marks the highest field goal percentage at 66.7 percent. Froward Remi Barry from Paris, France, is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against Colorado State earlier this season.

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