Aggie men’s basketball start off with a bang in 101-52 season opener win

Joseph Settle

More stories from Joseph Settle

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David Castaneda

Issa Muhammad dunks a score against New Mexico Highlands during Monday’s game, Nov. 7, 2022, at the Pan American Center.

When the New Mexico State men’s basketball campaign and New Mexico Highlands matched up Monday evening to kick off the season, it proved to be a game full of firsts. Being that it was the season opener, home opener, and Coach Heiars’ first official game. To add onto that, Head Coach Jerry Kill was honored with a special football for his first win as an Aggie, and NMSU Soccer was honored during a timeout for winning their first WAC Championship. It proved the perfect beginning of an era, as the NM State campaign thrashed the Cowboys 101-52.  

Heiars’ starting lineup consisted of Pinson, Muhammad, Peake, Washington, and Gordon. The only returning starter from last year’s squad is Mike Peake. Muhammad would win the tipoff to get the game going for the Aggies. The scoring would start when Deshawndre Washington hit his first three of the night as he would go on to picking up his first triple-double (17 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) of the season.  

“We have a simple motto,” said Heiar “We want to attack the paint and we want to protect the paint. I thought we did a great job in both areas throughout the game.” Heiar continued, “I was definitely pleased with their effort and togetherness and how we looked as a team.” 

The scoreboard and overall team stats definitely back coaches statements up as NMSU would outscore the Cowboys’ 48-22 inside the paint. Issa Muhammad would be a massive contributor, as he solidified 20 points and eight rebounds. Peake also had himself a game recording 16 points and five boards. Avery, the only other returner from last year, had 13 points, and six rebounds as well. 

New Mexico State men’s basketball took on New Mexico Highlands on Monday night, Nov. 7, 2022, where the Aggies prevailed in their season opener. (David Castaneda)

Heiar and the boys would only trail once in the game in the opening minutes with a 6-7 score. But soon after the Aggies would go on a 6-0 run and never look back. Soon enough the lead would be 13 when Issa Muhammad fought through contact for the and-one.   

As  Coach Heiar explained during the preseason, the Aggies are looking to get up and down the floor quickly this year–which was evident during the game when the Aggies’ lead grew to 18 when a two-on-one fast break ended with an explosive Issa Muhammad dunk. The half would end with Pinson, who had just been cleared to play the morning of, hitting a jumper from free throw range to put the squad up 21. 

The second half would be much of the same as NM State dominated with the lead continuing to expand until it eventually became a 49-point gap. In the closing seconds of the game, Doctor Bradley would slam down a pass from Kyle Feit to put the Aggies over 100 points and an eruption throughout the Pan American Center.   

The Aggies return to action Saturday, Nov.12, when they take on future C-USA member UTEP at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso at 7 p.m. for the Ba

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