Game #9-251: Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at New Mexico State AggiesJanuary 3, 2013 9:00 pm
Pan American Center
For 2012-13, the University of Texas at San Antonio joins the Western Athletic Conference for its only season, having already joined Conference USA for next year. Tonight is the first of the Roadrunners' nine WAC road games, visiting New Mexico State. The first week of WAC play went poorly for both teams: UTSA lost two games at home to Utah State and San Jose State, two of the hottest WAC teams at the start of the season, San Jose somewhat unexpectedly. New Mexico State lost two on the road, first at UT-Arlington, then at Louisiana Tech; this was a disappointment for one of the teams favored to compete for the top of the WAC in the preseason polls, but both defeats were from other teams in that group.
Before the conference season started, the Roadrunners (4-8) played only one home game, defeating USC-Upstate. Road wins were against Holy Cross (at ODU), Old Dominion, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; losses came to Morgan State (at ODU), BYU, Oregon, CSU-Bakersfield, Mississippi State, and USC-Upstate
. The Aggies (6-8) got a road win at South Alabama to balance against away losses to Oregon State
, Bucknell (at Niagara), Niagara, UTEP
, and New Mexico
; at home, the record is better, one loss to New Mexico
offsets wins over Southeastern Louisiana
, Northern New Mexico
, Southern Mississippi
, and Missouri State
This is only the fourth meeting between the two men's basketball programs. The Aggies have won two: the neutral court game in Utah State's tournament in December 2003 (62-53), and the December 2005 game in Las Cruces (74-72). In between, the Roadrunners won the January 2005 overtime game in San Antonio (81-74). For both teams, this is the third game in six days, with another to follow on the weekend.
It was unusually cold in Las Cruces, even for the deep of winter. During Wednesday night and much of Thursday, enough snow fell for there to be a small accumulation; by evening, the streets and sidewalks were clear, but there was some on the grass and trees. Because this only happens a couple of times a year, it doesn't make sense to invest in snow-moving equipment or in many salt or sand spreading vehicles to spend 360-plus days in storage. Most of the time, if the roads threaten to freeze, schools and public services are closed and people are encouraged to stay home, mostly because almost no one here has any experience driving in ice or snow so it is dangerous.
The combination of the intimidating weather (for Las Cruces) and the students still being on winter break made for a small and late arriving crowd. The picture below was taken twenty-five minutes before the start of the game; the Connors and myself were about the only people on the east side of the arena.
The announced attendance was about 4,500, but some of those were certainly unused season tickets. The Aggies, as they have each time that INCREDIBLY LARGE MAN Sim Bhullar, the Aggies' 7'5" freshman center, has started a game, won the opening tip. The game started pretty slowly, each team missing a few shots, then warming up and starting to make more and more of them. New Mexico State showed a man-to-man defense early, then returned to the more familiar matchup zone after a couple of Roadrunner superhoops; UTSA also varied their defenses early, ending up in a zone for much of the game as well. UTSA led 9-7 before a nine-point NMSU run was keyed by Bhullar's second and third baskets of the game; the Aggies did a better job than they had in previous games of getting the ball to Bhullar in a position to drop it (or sometimes slam it) into the basket. NMSU came into this game averaging a little more than eleven assists per game; they had nine assists in the first half.
UTSA slowly chipped away at the Aggie lead, tying the score at thirty with about three minutes remaining, then again at thirty-two, both times on driving layups by guard Hyjii Thomas. The Aggies scored the last three baskets of the half on driving layups by Bandja Sy, K. C. Ross-Miller, and Renaldo Dixon, giving them a six point advantage. After a long delay to decide where to set the shot clock after an erroneous reset, the half ended with no further scoring and the home team leading, 38-32. The Roadrunners shot a respectable 46% from the field in the half, but the Aggies did much better, making 62% of their field goal tries. Bhullar led the scoring with twelve for the Aggies; seven others scored in the half. The Roadrunner were led by guards Kannon Burrage (Kannon is a great name for a shooter) with eleven and Michael Hale III with nine; four other Roadrunners chipped in.
The second half started just as the first had ended, with the Aggies extending their six point run to eighteen straight on seven points from guard Daniel Mullings and five from forward Bandja Sy; the run ended on a spectacular #omgdunx
by Mullings on an alley-oop by wing Tyrone Watson.
The lead stayed between fifteen and nineteen until the Aggies caught fire again with just over eleven minutes to go. Their 16-1 run was sparked by nine points from Sy, including two dunks and a nifty reverse layup; it pushed the lead to thirty-two and started the exit of the Aggie starters from the game. UTSA's starters outscored the NMSU reserves in garbage time (Jeromie Hill scored seven including two superhoops at the very end) to make the final difference twenty.
Aggie Bandja Sy led all scorers with twenty-five, twenty of which came in the second half; he was nine for twelve from the floor. Bhullar ended up with fifteen (on seven of eight shooting), and Mullings fourteen (on six of eight). The Aggies' 21 assists were a season high, and their eleven blocked shots were one short of the school record. Most impressive, their second half shooting percentage was just over 77%, bringing their game total to an NMSU record 68.6%. UTSA was led by Burrage and Hale's fourteen points each, with Hill's outburst at the end bringing him up to thirteen.
On Saturday, UTSA traveling partner Texas State comes from Denver to Las Cruces for the next Aggie game. At Denver, when hockey wants the arena, they get it; they took two from Cornell on Friday and Saturday. So basketball will happen on Sunday; UTSA will play at Denver.
NMSU's video production unit broadcasts most of the Aggie home games, and if you're interested, here is their highlight package from the post-game show
at NEW MEXICO STATE 82, TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO 62
TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO 4-9 (0-3) -- J. Sims 2-3 0-1 4; M. Hale III 4-10 4-6 14; L. Wilkins 3-4 2-3 8; K. Burrage 4-12 5-8 14; H. Thomas 2-3 2-3 6; J. Hill 4-12 3-3 13; T. Wood 0-2 0-0 0; E. McGregor 1-2 0-0 3; A. Price 0-0 0-0 0; T. Mayberry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-48 16-24 62.
NEW MEXICO STATE 7-8 (1-2) -- B. Sy 9-12 6-9 25; D. Mullings 6-8 2-5 14; T. Watson 2-3 1-1 5; S. Bhullar 7-8 1-2 15; K. Ross-Miller 1-2 0-0 2; T. de Rouen 3-7 1-2 7; R. Dixon 4-4 0-0 8; R. Barry 1-4 0-0 2; K. Aronis 0-0 0-0 0; M. Buovac 1-2 0-0 2; B. West 1-1 0-0 2; E. Coleman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-51 11-19 82.
Three-point goals: UTSA 6-17 (J. Hill 2-6; J. Sims 0-1; T. Wood 0-1; M. Hale 2-5; K. Burrage 1-3; E. McGregor 1-1), NMSU 1-6 (B. Sy 1-1; K. Ross-Miller 0-1; R. Barry 0-1; T. de Rouen 0-2; M. Buovac 0-1); Rebounds: UTSA 17 (E. McGregor 4), NMSU 35 (B. Sy 8); Assists: UTSA 6 (J. Hill 2), NMSU 21 (T. Watson 6); Total Fouls -- UTSA 16, NMSU 20; Fouled Out: UTSA-None; NMSU-None.