LAS VEGAS – The No. 2 seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team takes on No. 5 seed Idaho, Saturday, March 15 in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship at 8 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 and will also air on ESPNU. Live stats are available free of charge at www.NMStateSports.com. In-game score updates are given on Twitter @NMStateAggies.
If the Aggies win the championship game, they will look forward to the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday, March 16 at 4 p.m. (MT) with television coverage on CBS. The NCAA selects 68 teams for the tournament, including an automatic bid given to the winner of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. If the Aggies win the championship game and move on to the NCAA Tournament, any games played in the NCAA Tournament will aired on the Aggie Sports Network with coverage in Alamogordo (107.1 FM), Albuquerque (101.7 FM), Artesia (990 AM) and Carlsbad (1240 AM).
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
NM State finished with a 23-9 overall record during the regular season and are the No. 2 seed heading into the WAC Tournament Championship. The Aggies earned 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, although UVU lost to Idaho in the semifinals on Friday, March 14.
The Aggies finished the regular season winning two straight and won eight of their last 10 games regular season 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, who is currently on a four-game winning streak, put together three winning streaks of four or more wins, including two seven-game win streaks, during the regular season. 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 77.2 points per game this season while shooting 48.9 percent from the field. They are shooting well from behind the three-point arc as well, hitting 37.1 percent of their three point attempts. The NM State defense is holding its opponents to 40.2 percent from the field and out-rebounding opponents by an average of 37.3 per game to 32.6 per game (+4.8 rebounding margin).
Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads all scorers on the squad with 16.7 points per game and is also the defensive leader on the team with 62 steals on the season. Mullings is also second in the WAC in steals per game with 1.98 per game. He also has 115 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 98 blocks on the year. Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is the team leader in rebounds with 7.9 per game and Bhullar is right behind him with 7.8 per game. Nephawe is second on the team and the WAC in blocked shots with 51, which includes a career high six blocks against Idaho, Jan. 11.
Senior Guard Kevin Aronis leads the Aggies in three-point shooting percentage hitting 39.7 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 25.0 minutes per competition. He is posting 8.5 points per game and grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Daniel Mullings scored 20-plus points for the ninth time this season leading No. 2 seeded New Mexico State to a 69-63 win over No. 6 Bakersfield in the semifinals of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Friday, March 15 in the Orleans Arena.
Mullings scored 21 points going 9-for-16 from the field while coming up with three steals to help NM State move on to the WAC Tournament title game Saturday, March 15 at 8 p.m. (MT) with television coverage on ESPNU. Junior guard DK Eldridge added 17 points, which was the fourth time he scored at least 17 points in a game this season.
The Aggies finished the night hitting 25-of-47 shots (53.2 %) and making 14-of-21 free throws. The NM State defense came up with four blocks and six steals and forced the Roadrunners to toss up nine turnovers.
NM State in WAC Tournament Championship Games
The Aggies are 4-1 all-time in WAC Tournament Championship games.
3/15/08…Boise State…L (3OT)…107-102
3/10/07…Utah State…W…72-70 (under Reggie Theus)
NM State in Conference Tournament Games
The Aggies are 46-24 all-time in conference tournament games.
Conference and all-time record
Missouri Valley Conference … 6-6
Big West Conference … 21-11
Sun Belt Conference … 2-3
Western Athletic Conference … 17-4
Series History versus Idaho
Going 24-5 over the series, the Aggies have had a storied history with the Idaho Vandals, with their first meeting back in Dec. 1964, where NM State won 81-69. It would be over three decades later when the two teams met again, playing at NM State on Jan. 23, 1997. The Aggies pulled away with another victory, winning 71-47. It wouldn’t be until their fourth meeting where the Vandals would win their first game of the series, beating the Aggies in a close one, 70-68.
The Aggies split the series with the Vandals this year, winning their first meeting and dropping the second game on Feb. 7, 73-67 in Moscow, Idaho. Leading at half 36-32, the Aggies couldn’t hold on to the lead and a 14-3 run by the Vandals in the final minutes of the game capped off the comeback.
Daniel Mullings leads the Aggies in scoring against the Vandals, averaging 18 points, while Tshilidzi Nephawe is averaging 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks a game in the series.
Aggies are 2-0 when playing Idaho at a neutral site.
12/29/64…Neautral (Anaconda, Mont.) … W… 81-69
3/14/13…Neutral (Las Vegas, Nev.) … W… 65-49
Scouting the Vandals
Idaho defeated Kansas City (73-70) and Utah Valley (74-69) to reach the WAC Tournament Championship. The Vandals are currently 16-17 overall and finished league play with a 7-9 record.
Stephan Madison leads the Vandals averaging 20.2 points per game (tops in WAC) and also pulls down 7.8 rebounds per game. Idaho’s Connor Hill is second on the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game and is shooting 41.4 percent from behind the three point arc. The Vandals as a team shoots 36 percent from 3-point range.
Last time against Idaho
The New Mexico State men’s basketball team was outscored by 10 points in the second half and ended up falling 73-67 in Cowan Spectrum, Thursday, Feb. 6. The Aggies at the time fell to17-8 overall and 6-3 in Western Athletic Conference play and Idaho moved to 9-14 on the year and 3-6 in league play.
The Aggies went into the half with a 36-32 lead, which made it the first time this season that NM State lost a game where they went into the locker room at halftime with the lead. NM State struggled at the free throw line going 6-of-15 from the stripe and was out-rebounded by the Vandals 38-34.
Junior guard Daniel Mullings put in 20 points hitting 9-of-18 shots while going 2-of-4 from the free throw line. This was the eighth time this season that Mullings has scored 20 points in a game and he is now tied for 13th on the all-time scoring list at NM State with Charles Gosa, who scored 1,233 points from 1995-99.
Sophomore center Sim Bhullar saw 26 minutes of action and went 4-of-5 from the field for eight points while grabbing seven board and blocking five shots. Those five blocks gave him 150 on his career and he became only the second Aggie to ever post 150 blocks in an Aggie uniform.
The Aggies shot 45.5 percent from the field in the first half and held Idaho to 36.4 percent shooting, while Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe had two blocks a piece. Eldridge, who score the first two points of the game, finished the half with eight points as he was 4-of-7 from the field. Aronis led the Aggie scorers with nine points hitting 3-of-5 3-point attempts.
Mullings with another steal
Guard Mullings leads the team in steals with 62 this season. Mullings finished with 32 steals in conference play. The Aggies have a total of 163 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 has 199 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) 199
4. James Moore (2000-03) 174
5. Randy Brown (1988-92) 162
Steals in a Single Season
5. Thomas Wyatt (1994-95) – 64
Hearnst Laroche (2011-12) – 64
7. Daniel Mullings (2013-14) – 62
Sam Crawford (1991-92) - 62
Hearnst Laroche (2010-11) – 62
10. Troy Brewer (1994-95) – 61
11. William Benjamin (1991-92) – 59
Reggie Jordan (1990-91) – 59
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 win, 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 183 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 40 straight games he has played in while recording three or more blocks in 18 games this season.
Through 14 games in last season, Bhullar just had 29 blocks, compared to his 54 blocks after the Aggies last 14 games this season. At his current pace of 3.5 blocks per game, Bhullar could get the 17 blocks needed to surpass 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), 183
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) – 98
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
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 552 points this season and now has 1,369 points in his career. He is currently averaging 16.6 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 50 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) – 1,369
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