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NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Aggies continue home winning streak with overtime thriller against Liberty

David Castañeda
Guard Tanahj Pettway scores against the Flames. Feb. 1, 2024.

Looking to get back on track after dropping back-to-back road games, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team took on the Liberty Flames and thanks to an aggressive offensive display with three players scoring in double digits, including 27 points from junior guard Christian Cook, the Aggies secured a 79-73 overtime win at the Pan American Center. The Aggies are now in third place in Conference USA standings at 10-12 and own the second-best home record at 10-1. 

The Flames had a hot start to the game splashing their first three shot attempts, but the stellar defense from the Aggies negated their run. After five fouls committed by the Flames and the Aggies knocking down all their free throw attempts with a three-pointer from Cook ignited the back-and-forth play.  

After quickly giving up eight points following an 8-2 run, the Flames struggled to connect from behind the arc and missed six straight attempts before settling for easier shots in the paint and inside the three-point line. 

The Aggies defeated the Liberty University Flames 79-73 in a prolonged match on Feb. 1, 2024. (David Castañeda)

Nearly halfway into the first half, the Aggies had an incident on the court when junior forward Robert Carpenter threw and landed a punch at Liberty’s Shiloh Robinson. After reviewing the play, officials assessed a flagrant II foul and immediately ejected Carpenter from the game.  

Despite the incident, the Aggies continued the solid play for the rest of the half with Cook and senior guard Femi Odukale dropping a combined 13 points, ending a wild first half with the Flames up 37-35. 

Entering the second half, the Flames continuously held a narrow lead through most of it with Zach Cleveland leading them and the Aggies avoiding a huge deficit thanks to Cook, Odukale and guard Jaden Harris remaining consistent.  

Despite the struggles to consistently knock down shots, the Aggies continued to lock in defensively and made crucial stops when they mattered most, all while taking advantage of the 14 second chance opportunities compared to the Flames seven.  

The effort to drive to the basket and with numerous layups from both teams led to a combination of 62 points in the paint, with alternating lead changes and tying the game many times throughout the night. 

The Flames held a 67-66 lead with just a bit over a minute and a half to play and after going scoreless for most of that time, Cook knocked down a clutch three-pointer to put the Aggies up by two with just under 30 seconds left to play. 

Guard Jordan Rawls soars over Liberty Flames to score. Feb. 1, 2024. (David Castañeda)

The Flames responded by tying the game, while leaving more than enough time for the Aggies to get a good quality shot. Despite the time, the Aggies were unable to hit the shot, sending the game into overtime.   

The lead margin never went above two through most of overtime, until Cook hit a midrange jumper that gave the Aggies a four-point lead, ending the game with a 79-73 victory.  

After the game, Aggie head coach Jason Hooten said it took a lot of effort to win. “I thought that our guys played really, really well tough,” Hooten said. “And I thought we did what it took to win a really good game against a great basketball team.” 

After the physical incident with Carpenter, NMSU Athletics has since decided to suspend him for the rest of the season.  

Hooten addressed the incident at the beginning of the press conference. “First and foremost, I just want to apologize to Liberty University and Coach McCay for the incident,” Hooten said. “That’s not the way we’re going to do things here at New Mexico State University. 

For now, the Aggies will rest up for a week before traveling to El Paso to take on University Texas El Paso on Saturday Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center. The game will be streamed on ESPN+. 

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About the Contributors
Victor Fierro
Victor Fierro, Sports Writer
Victor Fierro is starting his first year with The Round Up as a staff writer. He is currently a senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Sports Marketing. He developed a passion for writing when he was in high school. His main goal is to become a play-by-play announcer for an NBA team. Victor loves to write game stories for all sports including basketball and football. Victor hopes working for The Round Up will help him grow as a person and a journalist.
David Castañeda
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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