I wrote before the Aggies' 58-54 loss to Utah State on Wednesday that Troy Gillenwater would have to become more inside-out down the stretch.
As it turns out, a broken thumb on his shooting hand forced him to be just that on Wednesday for 17 points. It was probably a painful 17 points, but it set the tone for the Aggies with his aggressive play. Freshman Tshilidzi Nephawe had his first career double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Hamidu Rahman was limited to 10 minutes as he is still nursing the calf injury. Perhaps it was the injury or a matchup against Tai Wesley, but Gillenwater probably played one of his best defensive games that I have seen anyway. Wesley made some big buckets, but nothing was easy for him on Wednesday.
Gillenwater has the ball in his hands a lot, so perhaps the mistakes are magnified, but he admitted the turnover down four was big although it didn't turn into UtAg points.
There was also another sequence where the Aggies lost valuable seconds because they couldn't secure a rebound at a critical time. NMSU outrebounded USU 31-27 and the UtAgs only had five offensive rebounds, but two of them came in the last 1:14.
Down 56-52 with 1:14 to play on a Gillenwater three point play, the Aggies forced Brian Green into a tough runner in the lane. Morgan Grim, who played six minutes....grabbed the rebound and extended the possession. Brockeith Pane pulled up for a jumper on the wing with 51 seconds left, but Wesley grabbed the board and the Aggies were forced to foul.