NM State basketball get handed their seventh straight loss in WAC play

Connor Moreno

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The New Mexico State (7-12, 0-7 WAC) men’s basketball program started their 3-game Utah road trip in Cedar City,  going into action against the WAC’s number-1 offense, Southern Utah (14-6, 6-1 WAC). Coach Heiar and the Aggies played the Thunderbirds at home on Dec. 28th to open up conference play earlier this season where Southern Utah guard, Tevian Jones, who is third in the conference in scoring, torched the Aggies for 20 points on their way to a 79-75 win in Las Cruces. This matchup proved just as lethal as the Aggies fell 76-111 to Southern Utah and dropping the season series against the Thunderbirds.

A new starting lineup featuring 6’10” forward, Shakiru Odunewu, gave the Aggies a little jumpstart as “Big O” scored their first points of the game which was followed by solid buckets by Xavier Pinson and Deshawndre Washington to give NM State an early 9-6 lead over the T-Birds at the 17:56 mark. However, this would be their final lead as Tevian Jones hit the first of a barrage of three-pointers to start an 11-2 run and assume control over the rest of the half.

The Southern Utah offense exploded for 58 points in the first half and shot and drained 14 shots from beyond the arc for an efficient 64%. This was followed by New Mexico State finding shots on the offensive side, they just couldn’t find many answers for the red-hot Thunderbirds in the first half. While the one-sided three-point battle was the most glaring tale of the first half, SUU also led the game in assists with 15 to the Aggies’ four. The inability to convert on set-plays and, in turn, settle for ‘iso ball’ has been a recurring problem for NMSU men’s basketball during their conference campaign.

The shooting woes would continue for New Mexico State in the second half and Southern Utah would stay on fire as the Thunderbirds would go on a 17-4 run to go up 75-42 that ended when Coach Heiar finally called a timeout at the 13:06 mark. The Aggies went 1 for 7 from the field in that span and looked as deflated as they have all season.

It would remain all fight but no answers for the rest of the game for the Aggies. Southern Utah started unloading the bench at the 7:00 mark while up 90-59. The T-Birds would knock down a program single-game record of 20 threes made, just two shy of a new WAC single game record, and finish with six players in double figures.

New Mexico State drops yet another conference game, this time 76-111 to the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah and lose the season series. Although the Aggies scored more points than their season average, a severe lack of perimeter defense led them to their worst loss of the season. An embarrassing loss to say the least, this season for the New Mexico State men is slowly unraveling and falling out of reach just 10 months after notching an NCAA Tournament win the season prior.

The Aggies will travel down to St. George to face Utah Tech (9-10, 1-5 WAC) for the first and only time this season. The game will be aired on ESPN+ on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7 P.M. MST.


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