Three keys to New Mexico State vs. Clemson

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Three keys to New Mexico State vs. Clemson

No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Clemson will tipoff at 7:57 MT on TruTV.

No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Clemson will tipoff at 7:57 MT on TruTV.

No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Clemson will tipoff at 7:57 MT on TruTV.

No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Clemson will tipoff at 7:57 MT on TruTV.

SAN DIEGO- Upset-minded and looking to make a run deep into the NCAA Tournament, the New Mexico State Aggies will look to advance into the Round of 32 with a win Friday night against the No. 5 Clemson Tigers Friday night inside San Diego State’s Viejas Arena. Here are a couple of things to watch that could tell the tale on whether the Aggies advance.

Rebounding

New Mexico State isn’t a great-shooting basketball team – how they excel offensively is through rebounding their own misses. The Aggies do it at a 40 percent and are led on the boards by Jemerrio Jones (13.2 RPG). The Tigers do have length and athleticism in the frontcourt with freshman Aamir Simms and center Elijah Thomas. All-ACC performer Marquise Reed chips in with a 4.6 RPG average and Clemson does possess their a plus-2 rebounding margin average – that just isn’t as impressive as NMSU’s plus-9 rebounding margin. Should the game become a defensive battle (which is more likely than not), whoever wins the battle of the boards will have a great chance to win.

 

Free throw shooting

Aggie fans would probably prefer that free throw shooting not be so important – but it is March and with the Aggies being the underdog, it will be extremely crucial that they cash in at the charity stripe. NMSU is shooting 64.3 percent this season from the free throw line, a number that ranks near the dead bottom in college basketball. The encouraging thing about this problem is that the Aggies are coming off one of the best performances from the line this season, shooting 20 of 27 against Grand Canyon in the WAC Tournament Championship Game. The Aggies have only shot better than 70 percent from the line in seven games this season and they will need to make it eight against Clemson if they hope to find success.

Somebody needs to play second fiddle to Lofton offensively

Will it be former Ohio State guard AJ Harris announcing his return to the national spotlight? Or will Eli Chuha come off the bench to show why he was voted onto the All-WAC Preseason Team? It is going to have to be somebody on this team that can score with Lofton catching a majority of the attention from the Clemson coaching staff. For upsets to happen, the underdog needs specific ingredients to concoct a bracket-busting win – the Aggies are no different. They have gone through tough dry spells in games this year when Lofton isn’t shooting particularly well and will need to avoid that against Clemson. Keep an eye on Keyon Jones. He has shot the ball well as of late and can use his strong frame to get to the basket.

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