DENTON, Texas.-The New Mexico State men’s basketball team concludes its three-game road trip at North Texas Saturday, Dec. 6, at 6:00 p.m., in Denton, Texas. The game is available on the Aggie Sports Network and on KGRT 104 FM in Las Cruces with the ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon. The Aggies are 2-3 after a 100-79 loss at No. 25 Kansas, Dec. 3. The Mean Green is 5-2 following a 68-66 win over Sam Houston State, Dec. 3, in Denton.
New Mexico State Aggies
NMSU is looking for its first road victory of the season in the final game of a three-game road swing. The historic Allen Fieldhouse was too much for the Aggies as they fell to No. 25 Kansas, 100-79, Dec. 3, in Lawrence, Kan. NMSU had a balanced offensive showing with four players in double-figures. Sophomore guard Jahmar Young led the way with 17 points while junior guard Jonathan Gibson followed with 16 and a game-high four steals. Freshman forward Troy Gillenwater and sophomore forward Wendell McKines supplied the Aggies with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
The Aggies have four players with double-digit scoring averages with sophomore guard Jahmar Young and junior guard Jonathan Gibson posting 17.8 and 15.5 points per game, respectively. Freshman forward Troy Gillenwater is adding 15.4 points per game while sophomore forward Wendell McKines is adding 11.6 points per contest.
North Texas Mean Green
North Texas is now 5-2 after a 68-66 win over Sam Houston State, Dec. 3, in Denton, Texas. Sophomore guard Tristan Thompson scored a team-high 20 points on a perfect shooing performance. He was 6-of-6 from the field and from the free-throw line. Thompson with 10.7 points per game is one of three players with a double-digit average for the Mean Green. Sophomore guard Josh White has a team-best 13.4 points per game while junior guard Dominique Johnson adds 10.9 points per contest.
The Aggies have a 19-8 advantage in the all-time series with North Texas. NMSU is trying to snap a three-game losing streak to the Mean Green. Last season, North Texas rallied to defeat the Aggies, 75-72, in Las Cruces, Dec. 1, 2007.
Last year, North Texas overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to win its third consecutive game in the series, 75-72, Dec. 1, 2007 in Las Cruces. Justin Hawkins and Fred Peete combined for 52 points but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Mean Green second half surge.
For the second consecutive year, the Aggies played two teams ranked in the top 25 in the first five games of the season. NMSU fell at No. 20/19 Southern California, 73-60, Nov. 18, and No. 23 Kansas, the defending national champions, 100-79, Dec. 3. Last season, the Aggies played at No. 13/10 Duke and versus No. 15/16 Texas.
At No. 25 Kansas, sophomore guard Gordo Castillo had a season-high six points on 2-for-4 shooing from the 3-point line. He made back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Aggies within seven points, 58-51, that forced Kansas to take a timeout with 12:35 remaining in the game. This season, Castillo is shooting 44.4 percent from beyond the line.
In a career-high 22 minutes played at Long Beach State, Castillo made his first two career free throws. The shots were vital and pulled the Aggies within three points, 80-77, with :30 second left in the game.
Sophomore guard Jahmar Young has led the Aggies in scoring in the first five games of the season. He is averaging 17.8 points per game. Young recorded a season-best 4-for-7 3-point performance at Long Beach State, Nov. 30. Overall, Young is shooting 50.8 percent from the field, 40.7 percent from the 3-point line and 78.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Freshman forward Troy Gillenwater has been in double-figures in the Aggies first five games of the season. At Long Beach State, he recorded two assists, the first of his career, and a season-high three steals. Gillenwater has also made a 3-pointer in four of the first five games.
Sophomore forward Wendell McKines recorded his first double-double of the season with 16 points and a season-high 11 rebounds at Long Beach State, Nov. 30. In his first start of the year, the Oakland, Calif., native tied his career-high performance with eight field goals on 14 shots. McKines leads the Aggies with 6.6 rebounds per game.
Freshman guard Hernst Laroche had a career night at Long Beach State, Nov. 30. He had eight points and eight assists, which were both career highs. Laroche was also perfect from the 3-point line. He went 2-for-2 on his first two attempts from behind the arc.
Sophomore forward Robert Lumpkins also had a career-high performance at Long Beach State, Nov. 30. Off the bench, he had his first double-digit showing with 11 points going 3-of-6 from the 3-point line.
In the first game of a three-game road trip, freshman center Hamidu Rahman blocked a career-high three shots. He also had nine points, a mark that tied his career high.
Ring of Fire
As a team, the Aggies shot 50 percent from the 3-point line (11-of-22) at Long Beach State. Sophomore guard Jahmar Young was 4-for-7 while sophomore forward Robert Lumpkins was 3-for-6 from beyond the line.
May the Force
The Aggies forced 20 turnovers in the first three games this season against UC Riverside, Pepperdine and at No. 20 USC. Sophomore guard Gordo Castillo paced NMSU with a career-high four steals at USC while freshman guard Hernst Laroche and junior guard Jonathan Gibson both had three steals against UC Riverside.
NMSU blocked a season-high 10 shots against Pepperdine. Freshman forward Troy Gillenwater blocked six shots.
NMSU went 7-of-20 from the 3-point line in the first two games of the season and then shot 6-of-15 from behind the arc against Pepperdine. Sophomore guard Jahmar Young, sophomore forward Robert Lumpkins and junior guard Jonathan Gibson have hit multiple 3-pointers in a game this season.
For only the second time in five years, the Aggies opened the season in Las Cruces. NMSU defeated UC Riverside, 79-52, Nov. 15. The win was the largest margin of victory in a season opener since a 106-70 win over Simon Fraser, in the 1997-98 season opener.
Sophomore guard Jahmar Young had a game-high 18 points for a balanced offensive showing and freshman forward Troy Gillenwater added 17 points in his collegiate debut.
The Aggies started the year right and took care of the ball. NMSU only committed 11 turnovers against UC Riverside and Pepperdine.
The Aggies are looking to defend their first regular season WAC title after posting a 12-4 conference record in 2007-08. Last season, NMSU finished 21-14 and just missed the NCAA Tournament after falling to Boise State in three overtimes in the WAC Tournament Championship game. The Aggies are a very young squad with five returnees and eight newcomers on the squad.
In the WAC Preseason Polls, the Aggies were voted to finish third in the conference by both the coaches and media. The coaches picked Nevada to take first with Utah State, NMSU, San Jose State, Boise State, Louisiana Tech, Fresno State and Idaho to follow. The media also selected Nevada, Utah State and NMSU to the top three spots while Louisiana Tech, Boise State, San Jose State, Fresno State, Hawai’i and Idaho rounded out the poll. The coaches voted junior guard Jonathan Gibson to the preseason first team while sophomore guard Jahmar Young was a second team selection. Gibson was also a media pick for the preseason all-conference team.
After losing five seniors, the Aggies return two players that posted double-figure scoring averages. Junior guard Jonathan Gibson was second on the team last year with 12.2 points per game and sophomore guard Jahmar Young contributed 10.3 points per contest. Sophomore forward Wendell McKines is back after a freshman campaign of 6.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Las Cruces native sophomore guard Gordo Castillo, who shot 44.4 percent from the 3-point line, and junior guard Tray Britt also provide the Aggies with previous collegiate experience.
NMSU has eight newcomers including freshmen guards Hernst Larcohe and Terrance Joyner and both should to contribute at the point guard spot. Laroche, a Montreal, Quebec native, was a first team College AAA selection at Vanier College, a Canadian prep school, in 2007-08 after leading the league in assists, steals while also ranking third in free throw percentage. As a senior, Joyner averaged 13.0 points, 9.0 assists and 3.0 steals for Genesis One Christian. At the forward position, sophomore transfer Robert Lumpkins and freshman Troy Gillenwater are expected to supply quality minutes for the Aggies. In addition, freshmen centers Hamidu Rahman and Chris Gabriel are attempting to replace Hatila Passos and Martin Iti.
The Aggie schedule this year includes a strong non-conference slate with marquee games at Kansas, the 2008 NCAA National Champions, and Southern California. NMSU plays 16 games in the Pan American Center and the schedule is highlighted with seven teams that played in the 2008 postseason. NMSU also hosts its third consecutive ESPNU BracketBuster game.
The Aggies return home to host Sacramento State, Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7:00 p.m., in the Lou Henson Classic inside the Pan American Center.