LAS VEGAS – The No. 2 seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team takes on No. 7 seed Bakersfield, Friday, March 14 in the semifinals of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament 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.
If the Aggies win their semifinal game, they will take on the winner between No. 1 Utah Valley and No. 5 seed Idaho, Saturday, at 8 p.m. (MT) in the Orleans Arena for the WAC Tournament Championship. The championship game 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).
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 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 77.5 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 37.0 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 37.5 per game to 32.7 per game (+4.8 rebounding margin).
Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads all scorers on the squad with 16.6 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 111 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 96 blocks on the year. Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is tied with Bhullar as the team leaders in rebounds with 7.8 rebounds 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 43.7 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 25.2 minutes per competition. He is posting 8.6 points per game and grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game.
Sophomore center Sim Bhullar posted his fourth straight double-double as the No. 2 seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team defeated the No. 7 seeded Seattle U Redhawks 70-68 in the Orleans Arena, Thursday, March 13.
Bhullar scored a team-high and season-high 24 points while pulling down a game-high 14 boards while adding five blocks and three assists. Junior guard DK Eldridge added 19 points going 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc, 4-of-4 from the charity stripe and 6-of-9 from the field (67 percent). The Aggies as a team hit and astounding 25-of-29 free throw shots (86.2 percent) with junior guard Daniel Mullings hitting 6-of-6 and senior forward Renaldo Dixon draining 4-of-4 free throw shots. The team hit 14-of-15 free throws in the first half.
The Aggies scored 96 and 92 points in previous two games against Seattle U, but 16 NM State turnovers caused the Aggies to score on 70 points in the quarterfinal game of the tournament. The Aggies out-rebounded Seattle U 38-34 and blocked eight Redhawk shots.
Series History versus Bakersfield
NM State has faced Bakersfield five times over the years, with their first match being played on Dec. 7, 1985, with the Aggies winning 88-64. The Aggies are 5-0 versus the Roadrunners, with their last win coming March 1, 72-57.
In their last meeting, Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe both scored double-doubles, with Nephawe scoring a game high 15 points and a career high 16 rebounds. Freshman guard Travon Landry also had a career high 29 minutes played in the contest, scoring 12 points.
The Aggies have six players averaging double digits in scoring against the Roadrunners, with Daniel Mullings leading the way averaging 16.5 a game. Sim Bhullar has 26 points in their two meetings, along with 10 blocks and 17 rebounds. Nephawe averages a double-double, with 15 points a game and 12.5 rebounds.
Scouting the Roadrunners
Bakersfield is 13-18 overall and got the No. 6 seed by going 5-11 in conference play. The Roadrunners average 69.4 points per game and pull down 35.0 rebounds per game, out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 2.3 boards per game.
Issiah Grayson leads Bakersfield offensively posting 16.5 points per game while he has dished out 122 assists on the year. Brandon Barnes is second on the team in scoring with 9.4 points a contest and is pulling down 4.3 rebounds per game. Aly Ahmen is the team leader in rebounds with 6.7 per competition while Stefon Johnson has tallied a team-high 21 blocks this season.
Last Time against Bakersfield
Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe and sophomore Sim Bhullar each tallied a double-double to lead the New Mexico State men’s basketball team to a 72-57 victory over Bakersfield, Saturday, March 1 in Bakersfield, Calif.
Nephawe posted a game-high 15 points to go along with a career-high 16 rebounds, while Bhullar marked 13 points, 12 rebounds and a team-high five assists to help the Aggies moved to 22-9 on the season and 11-4 in Western Athletic Conference play. Bakersfield fell to 12-17 overall and 5-10 in league play with NM State clinched the No. 2 spot in the WAC Tournament.
Freshman guard Travon Landry finished the evening playing a career-high 29 minutes finishing with a career-high 12 points. Bhullar, who played 38 minutes against the Roadrunners, broke the single-season record for blocked shots when he swatted a ball away with 18:37 on the clock in the first half. He held the previous record of 85 blocks in a season last year, and now has 89 blocks this year.
The Aggies as a team shot 51 percent on the evening and held Bakersfield to 31.8 percent from the field. Junior guard Daniel Mullings scored 14 points, while junior guard DK Eldridge added 12.
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 has 196 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
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 181 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 39 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 3.6 blocks per game, Bhullar could get the 19 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), 181
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) – 96
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 531 points this season and now has 1,348 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 71 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) – 1,348
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