LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The No. 13 seeded New Mexico State men’s basketball team takes on No. 4 seed San Diego State, Thursday, March 20 in the 2014 NCAA Tournament at 7:57 p.m. (MT) in the Spokane, Wash. The game is scheduled to air over the radio waves on the Aggie Sports Network with ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon giving the play-by-play action and will also air on truTV. Live stats are available free of charge at www.NMStateSports.com. In-game score updates are given on Twitter @NMStateAggies.
Should the Aggies win the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the team then faces the winner of No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 12 North Dakota State. That game is set to air just before the Aggies take on SDSU, March 20, on truTV. Oklahoma goes into the postseason with a 23-9 season record, while NDSU is 25-6. NM State would meet one of these teams on Saturday, March 22 in Spokane, Wash.
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 the regular season with a 23-9 overall record. After completing the regular season with a 12-4 record in the Western Athletic Conference, the Aggies headed into the WAC Tournament as the #2 seed. NM State defeated Seattle, Bakersfield and Idaho to win their conference tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The selection committee placed the Aggies in the West region as the #13 seed where they will face #4 seed San Diego St. in the second round.
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 five-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 win streak ended at four games 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 49.1 percent from the field. They are shooting well from behind the three-point arc as well, hitting 37.3 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 37.3 per game to 32.3 per game (+5.0 rebounding margin).
Junior guard Daniel Mullings leads all scorers on the squad with 16.8 points per game and is also the defensive leader on the team with 64 steals on the season. Mullings is also second in the WAC in steals per game with 1.88 per game. He also has 119 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 99 blocks on the year. Junior Tshilidzi Nephawe is the team leader in rebounds with 274 on the year and Bhullar is right behind him with 228. 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 44.2 percent of shots beyond the arc and is No. 3 in the WAC in three point shooting percentage.
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 8.4 points per game and grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game.
NM State defeated Idaho by a score of 77-55 on March 15, 2014, for the Western Athletic Conference Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to defeating Idaho in the finals of the WAC Tournament, the Aggies came away victorious in two close games against Seattle by a score of 70-68 on March 13, 2014, and Bakersfield by a score of 69-63 on March 14, 2014.
Junior guard and Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Daniel Mullings, led the Aggies in scoring with 15.7 points per game during the WAC Tournament. He also served as a floor general and got after it on the defensive end, leading the Aggies in assist (14) and steals (5). Sophomore Center, Sim Bhullar, also was an effective presence on the interior. Bhullar averaged 14 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game on his way to earning WAC Tournament Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year.
The Aggies shot a blazing 44.8 percent from the three-point line while holding their opponents to 27.3 percent from beyond the arc. NM State averaged 72 points per game, which was 10 points better than the 62 point per game they allowed. They also crashed the boards effectively as they averaged 35.7 rebounds per contest and only allowed 28.7, outrebounding their opponent by a margin of (+7) in the three game stretch.
The Aggies are making their 21st NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. NM State has a 10-22 record in the Big Dance with a Final Four appearance in 1970. This will be the third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for NM State and the fourth in the last five years. This is the third time the Aggies have made back-to-back-to-back tournament appearances. The Aggies went to four straight NCAA Tournaments, twice, back in 1967 to 1970 and then again from 1990 to 1993. The trip to Spokane, Wash., will be the third for the Aggies, playing in the tournament in Spokane back in 2007 and 2010. The last win for the Aggies in the tournament was in 1993 against Nebraska, as NM State won 93-79. NM State is 0-5 in the last five appearances in the Big Dance and 2-8 in the last ten.
NEW MEXICO STATE NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
(20 Appearances, 10-22 Record, 1 Final Four)
1952 St. Louis - L, 53-62
Texas Christian - L, 44-61
1959 Idaho State - L, 61-62
1960 Oregon - L, 60-68
1967 Houston - L, 58-59
1968 Weber State - W, 68-57
UCLA - L, 49-58
New Mexico - W, 62-58
1969 Brigham Young - W, 74-62
UCLA - L, 38-53
Weber State - L, 56-58
1970 Rice - W, 101-77
Kansas State - W, 70-66
Drake - W, 87-78
UCLA - L, 77-93
St. Bonaventure - W, 79-73
1971 Houston - L, 69-71
1975 North Carolina - L, 69-93
1979 Weber State - L, 78-81 OT
1990 Loyola Marymount - L, 92-111
1991 Creighton - L, 56-64
1992 DePaul - W, 81-73
Louisiana-Lafayette - W, 81-73
UCLA - L, 78-85
1993 Nebraska - W, 93-79
Cincinnati - L, 55-92
1994 Oklahoma State - L, 55-65
1999 Kentucky - L, 60-82
2007 No. 11 Texas - L, 67-79
2010 No. 12 Michigan State - L, 67-70
2012 No. 17 Indiana - L, 66-79
2013 No. 13 Saint Louis - L, 44-64
2014 No. 5 San Diego State - ???
Aggies all-time versus San Diego State
NM State and the Aztecs will meet for the first time in postseason play on Thursday. The two schools have played each other, however, on four different occasions during the regular season. The Aggies played San Diego State in four-consecutive years, from 1998-2001, under legendary NM State coach Lou Henson.
The Aggies finished 3-1 against the Aztecs during the home-and-home series, picking up two wins at home while going 1-1 in San Diego. The first meeting was held on Dec. 22, 1998, on San Diego State’s home court with NM State winning 66-55. The following year, on Nov. 30, 1999, the Aggies made it two in a row by defeating the Aztecs 66-49 inside the Pan American Center. San Diego State picked its first win of the series on Nov. 21, 2000, after beating NM State 62-77 in California. The Aggies won the most recent matchup between the two schools on Nov. 24, 2001, a 94-79 win in Las Cruces.
DATE LOCATION WINNER SCORE
12/22/1998 San Diego NM State 66-55
11/30/1999 Las Cruces NM State 66-49
11/21/2000 San Diego SDSU 62-77
11/24/2001 Las Cruces NM State 94-79
Scouting the Aztecs
The San Diego State Aztecs, who are ranked 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 13th in the AP Poll, finished the season with an overall record of 29-4, including 16-2 in Mountain West Conference play, 15-1 at home, 10-2 on the road and 4-1 in neutral sites.
This will be the 10th appearance for the Aztecs in the NCAA Tournament, including a school record fifth-consecutive trip to the big tournament. The consecutive streak includes a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011.
Overall, San Diego State has made nine-straight postseason appearances. Head coach Steve Fisher will be making his seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament as the leader of the Aztecs and his 11th overall postseason appearance since becoming San Diego State’s head coach in 1999.
Prior to coming to San Diego State, Fisher won a national championship as interim head coach at Michigan in 1989 and also led the Wolverines to two-consecutive championship game appearances in 1992 and 1993, losing to Duke and North Carolina respectively.
The Aztecs were the MW regular season champions at 16-2 in conference play and lost to New Mexico in the MWC Tournament championship game. San Diego State had a lead with just over a minute to go in the game but wound up losing to the 20th-ranked Lobos, 64-58.
Two of the four Aztec losses came at the hands of New Mexico. The other two losses came to No. 5 Arizona in Tucson and at Wyoming during conference play. San Diego State defeated three top-25 teams including wins over 18th-ranked Creighton and No. 25 Marquette at home and a 61-57 win inside Allen Fieldhouse over Kansas, which was ranked 16th at the time.
Defense has been the calling card for the Aztecs throughout the season. San Diego State led the MW in opponent’s point per game (56.6), opponent’s field-goal percentage (38.4), opponent’s 3-point field goal percentage (28.7), steals (147) and steals per game (4.5).
On the offensive side, the Aztecs averaged 70.6 points per game while shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from 3-point range. San Diego State also averaged 37.8 rebounds per game and shot 65.3 percent from the free-throw line.
At the conclusion of the MW regular season, the Aztecs garnered both the coach and player of the year for the conference as Fisher was named the MW Coach of the Year while senior guard Xavier Thames, who led the conference in steals, was named the MW Player of the Year. Thames, who was also on the MW first team and all-defensive team, led a group of six San Diego State players to earn MW accolades at the conclusion of the season.
Thames was undoubtedly the leader of the Aztec team. The 6-3 guard led San Diego State in scoring (16.8 points/game), 3-point field goal percentage (38.7), free-throw percentage (82.7), assists (105) and steals (55).
Sophomore forward Winston Shepard was the only other Aztec to average double-figure points, finishing with a 12.1 points per game average. Senior forward Josh Davis led the team in rebounding at 9.7 rebounds per game while 6-10 sophomore Skylar Spencer finished with a team-high .570 shooting percentage and 82 blocks.
Aggies in the Nation
With the Aggies making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Marvin Menzies, NM State is sitting very high on the leader board in national rankings.
Junior guard Daniel Mullings is leading the Aggies in points per game with 16.8, putting him at 150 in the country for scoring. He also leads the Aggies in steals per game with 1.88, ranking 54 in the nation, while recording 64 steals on the season to put him at 36 in the nation for total steals.
The front court for NM State has been getting it done defensively and cleaning up on the glass, with both big men Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe ranking nationally. Bhullar has recorded 101 total blocks on the season to put him at seventh nationally, whole ranking fifth nationally in blocked shots per game with 3.41. Nephawe is ranked 105 with 7.8 rebounds per game, while Bhullar sitting at 102 on the national list with 7.9 rebounds per game. The combined defense of the Aggies places the team seventh in the nation in blocked shots per game with 6.3 and second in the nation in total blocked shots with 220.
NM State is ranked 14 in the nation for total rebounds with 1,305, while ranking 31 in rebound margin with a +5 difference. The Aggies high powered offense is also ranked, sitting at 37 on the national leader board with an average of 77.2 points per game.
Mullings – 36th –total steal 64
Mullings – 54th – steals per game 1.88
Mullings – 150th- ppg 16.8
Nephawe – 105th- rebounds per game 7.8
Sim Bhullar – 102nd – rebound per game 7.9
Sim Bhullar – 7th- total blocks 101
Sim Bhullar- 5th- blocked shots per game 3.41
NM State – 7th – blocked shots per game 6.3
NM State – 31st – rebound margin 5.0
NM State – 2nd - total blocked shots 220
NM State- 14th- total rebounds 1,305
NM State – 37th _ scoring offense 77.2
Aggies in the WAC
The Aggies finished WAC play 12-4, taking the WAC Championship against Idaho 77-55 Mar. 15 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Leading the WAC in scoring, the Aggies 77.2 points a game combined with their second place defense only allowing 66.9 points a game made for a successful season in WAC play. Lead by Daniel Mullings on offense holding the sixth spot in the WAC for points per game with 16.8 and on defense by big man Sim Bhullar who ranked first in blocked shots per game with 3.4 in WAC play.
Mullings was second in the WAC with 1.9 steals per game while also sitting fifth in the WAC for assists with 3.5 a game.
The Aggies dominated the glass in WAC play, with Bhullar sitting at third in the conference with 7.9 rebounds per game and Tshilidzi Nephawe recording 7.8 rebounds per game for fourth place. NM State’s second ranking rebounding margin of +5 helped the Aggies rank first in rebounding defense and second in rebounding offense.
The Aggies high powered offense shot a conference best .491 percent from the field, while holding opponents to a league best .401 percent shooting. Also sitting second on the WAC leader board for 3-point field goal percentage shooting .373 percent from deep, the Aggies were led by sharpshooter Kevin Aronis and third place 3-point percentage of .442 from behind the arc. Bhullar lead all WAC players in field goal percentage shooting .647 percent from the field to place him first on the WAC leaderboard for field goal percentage.
Foreign Players 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 274 total this season. Sim Bhullar, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada leads the team in blocked shots with 99. Daniel Mullings, also from Toronto, leads the team in scoring averaging 16.8 points per contest and a total of 64 steals this season.
Also from Toronto, Renaldo Dixon is averaging 8.4 points per game and 5.6 rebounds, playing 25.0 minutes per game. Bhullar also marks the highest field goal percentage at 64.7 percent. Froward Remi Barry from Paris, France, is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against Colorado State earlier this season.
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 on Saturday, March 1, in the 72-57 victory, Bhullar broke his own single season record for blocked shots in a season with his first block, setting the new record at 86. For the season, he has tallied 99 total blocks while recording at least one block in every game this season.
Bhullar currently has 184 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 43 straight games he has played in while recording three or more blocks in 18 games this season.
Blocked Shots (Career)
1. James Moore (2002-03) -200
2. Sim Bhullar (2012-Present) -184
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) -99
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 570 points this season and now has 1,387 points in his career. He is currently averaging 16.8 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 33 points to become No. 11 on the all-time scoring list (32 to tie for No. 11). 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) – 1,387
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
Mullings with another steal
Guard Mullings leads the team in steals with 64 this season. Mullings finished with 34 steals in conference play. The Aggies have a total of 165 steals overall, with 76 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 4.7 steals per game compared to their opponent’s average of 5.5 steals versus the Aggies.
Mullings has 201 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) 201
4. James Moore (2000-03) 174
5. Randy Brown (1988-92) 162
Steals in a Single Season
1. Randy Brown (1989-90) – 91
2. Daniel Mullings (2012-13) – 79
3. Randy Brown (1990-91) – 71
4. William Benjamin (1990-91) – 70
5. Thomas Wyatt (1994-95) – 64
Hearnst Laroche (2011-12) – 64
Daniel Mullings (2013-14) – 64
The Aggies at Neutral Sites
NM State has played five games at neutral sites this season and hold a 4-1 record. The team holds victories over Tennessee State, Seattle U, Bakersfield and Idaho. The Aggies’ lone loss came against Western Michigan, 70-64.
The Aggies’ largest margin of victory at a neutral site this season was against Idaho, where they won by 22 points, defeating the Vandals 77-55 to win the WAC Championship.
Daniel Mullings leads the team with 14.0 points per game on neutral sites. He is followed by DK Eldridge, Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe as Aggies averaging double-digits in scoring.
Bhullar leads the Aggies with 9.0 rebounds per game atneutral sites and Nephawe is averaging 8.6 rebounds.
NM State has outscored opponents 350-311 in its five games on neutral sites.