Game #9-325: San Jose State Spartans at New Mexico State AggiesJanuary 19, 2013 9:00 pm
Pan American Center
Coming off Thursday's victory over Utah State
, Saturday finds the New Mexico State Aggies facing the San Jose State Spartans. The Spartans, joining the Blue Aggies in moving from the WAC to the Mountain West next year, are the WAC opponent that New Mexico State Aggies' have played the second most to Utah State. Overall, NMSU leads the series 32-12. The schools played non-conference games in 1958 and 1970, both in Las Cruces and won by the Aggies. The Spartans held a significant advantage in the early years that the schools were in the PCAA/Big West, winning seven straight in the late '80s, but the Aggies roared back to have a 17-10 overall advantage during those years. The series renewed when New Mexico State joined San Jose in the Western Athletic Conference in 2005; NMSU holds a 13-2 WAC advantage before this game.
The Spartans (9-8 overall, 3-3 WAC games) have won most of the games that would have been expected. They probably should have defeated New Orleans to start the year and maybe done better in the Las Vegas game with James Madison, but they wouldn't be expected to hang with Houston, although that was only a two-point loss, or with Kansas. They got a good win over Weber State and another on the road over Montana State. They started conference play with three wins in four games, and then defeated New Orleans in the non-conference rematch; the four conference games were the road swing to Texas State and UTSA, and the home set with Idaho and Seattle, losing to the Vandals. So the three wins would be expected of a team predicted to finish in the middle of the WAC.
Since then, the Spartans traveled to Utah State and Denver for two losses, again as might be expected; the magnitude of the beating at Denver, 73-37, was extreme. It should be noted that for both of those games Spartan coach George Nessman had suspended leading scorer James Kinney and starting forward Louis Garrett (with the number four season scoring average on the team) for disciplinary reasons. They were not traveling with the team, and were unavailable for this game as well.
After a disappointing first WAC weekend in Arlington, Texas, and Ruston, Louisiana, the Aggies had reeled off five consecutive WAC victories, winning three at home fairly easily, while squeaking out two one-point road wins at Seattle, in two overtimes, and Idaho. The Aggies' lineup is about how it has been since the injury of junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe; the debate continues about whether to bring him back this season as he is still eligible for a medical redshirt. One reason for the debate is the continuing emergence of his backup, imposing freshman Sim Bhullar. The increased playing time has helped Bhullar start shaking off the rust from a couple of years out of competitive basketball due to eligibility questions from his Canadian prep schooling and an broken foot from sparring with Nephawe in practice early last season. The 7'5" Bhullar will forever be known in midmajority circles as the INCREDIBLY LARGE MAN, thanks to Kenny Ocker's story from the Aggies' season opener
The game started with Bhullar winning the tip and making the second of two free throws on the ensuing foul. When Spartan guard LaVanne Pennington dropped in a long jumper, then drove for a layup, Aggie Coach Marvin Menzies used his first timeout eighty-four seconds into the game. That seemed to settle things down as his team scored eight of the next ten. During that run, starting Aggie point guard K. C. Ross-Miller went down with a hamstring injury; he was carried off the floor and did not return, leaving the point duties mostly to sophomore Terrel de Rouen. For the remainder of the half, Ross-Miller lay near the court having some treatment to the injured leg.
After two Spartan scores, the Aggies had a second scoring run, 7-0 this time, to push the lead to six. With four minutes to play, the Aggies led by seven, 25-18, but held the Spartans scoreless the rest of the half while scoring ten in their third big run of the half. Aggie freshman wing Matej Buovac attempted an 85-foot heave at the buzzer that just missed leaving the halftime score 35-18. First half scoring leaders were wing Tyrone Watson and center Renaldo Dixon with seven each for the Aggies; Pennington scored eight to lead the Spartans and the game.
On Military Appreciation Night, the halftime consisted of a ceremony to have a large number of dignitaries sign a "Compact for Community Support" with the several contiguous military bases in the area, the Army's Fort Bliss in El Paso and southern New Mexico, White Sands Missile Range, and Holloman Air Force Base. Representatives of New Mexico and Texas congressional delegations, local governments (cities, towns, counties), and local education agencies (the university, community college, school districts) joined representatives of each base and significant National Guard and military reserve units in the area. New Mexico is one of the states with the largest Federal presence and land ownership; besides the military facilities there are a number of large national parks, national forests, national monuments, and a great deal of land managed by the Interior Department, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.
The second half was much more closely contested. Neither team managed a run longer than five points, but the Aggies lead was never threatened either. For the second straight game, the officials went to the replay monitor to review an elbow bloodying an Aggie's face, this time Tyrone Watson's, but no flagrant foul was called. The half was slowed by a number of fouls; there were also a number of missed free throws: the Spartans were six of nine, the Aggies ten of fifteen. In the end, each team added thirty-five points to their total, and the Aggies won by the same margin they held at the intermission.
Pennington's scoring leadership for the Spartans continued in the second period; he ended the game with sixteen points. Forward Jaleel Williams added nine, wing Stephan Smith and guard Aalim Moor tallied seven each, and forward Chris Cunningham scored six before fouling out with four minutes to play. The Aggies were again led by wing Bandja Sy, whose twelve second-half points gave him sixteen for the game. Guard Daniel Mullings added thirteen and Watson ten; scoring from those three players has seemed to be important for the Aggie's success so far this year. Dixon scored nine, De Rouen added eight, and Bhullar's six came from one basket and four-of-nine free throw shooting. (Back to the gym, big guy.)
The win stretched the Aggies' win streak to six as they await a visit from the second-place Denver Pioneers on Wednesday. The Spartans dropped their third straight to three of the four leaders in the WAC standings; their next outing will bring a visit to San Jose from conference leader Louisiana Tech.
For a look back at the action, including a nice second half dunk by Sy, here's the highlight reel from Aggie Vision
at NEW MEXICO STATE 70, SAN JOSE STATE 53
SAN JOSE STATE 9-9 (3-4) -- D. Brown 2-5 0-1 6; L. Pennington 6-13 2-2 16; S. Smith 3-6 1-4 7; C. Cunningham 1-8 4-4 6; A. Brown 0-1 0-2 0; J. Williams 3-8 2-3 9; X. Jones 0-3 0-0 0; A. Moor 4-5 0-0 9; C. Jones 0-1 0-0 0; D. Andoh 0-0 0-0 0; M. VanKirk 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-50 9-16 53.
NEW MEXICO STATE 12-8 (6-2) -- T. Watson 3-4 3-6 10; D. Mullings 5-9 3-3 13; B. Sy 6-12 4-4 16; T. de Rouen 3-8 1-2 8; S. Bhullar 1-7 4-9 6; R. Dixon 3-6 3-3 9; K. Aronis 2-5 0-0 6; R. Barry 0-2 0-0 0; K. Ross-Miller 0-2 0-0 0; M. Buovac 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-56 18-27 70.
Three-point goals: SJSU 6-15 (L. Pennington 2-5; A. Moor 1-2; D. Brown 2-4; J. Williams 1-4), NMSU 4-11 (T. Watson 1-1; B. Sy 0-1; R. Barry 0-1; T. de Rouen 1-2; D. Mullings 0-1; K. Aronis 2-5); Rebounds: SJSU 20 (A. Brown 6), NMSU 42 (S. Bhullar 9); Assists: SJSU 10 (D. Brown 4), NMSU 11 (T. Watson 4); Total Fouls -- SJSU 23, NMSU 16; Fouled Out: SJSU-C. Cunningham; NMSU-None.