NMSU was clearly the better team in Saturday's 89-75 victory at Northern Colorado. Their depth (eight players played at least 15 minutes) and size (outrebounded UNC 41-27 with 13 offensive rebounds) simply wore down the Bears. NMSU outscored UNC 31-19 in the last 11:28, shooting a ridiculous 60.7 percent from the floor in the second half.
As someone who watches the Aggies on a regular basis, I must say that it took me about a half to get accustomed to seeing them play straight man-to-man, often for the length of the floor. There were a few times where transition was lax, but forcing 20 turnovers with seven steals (three from Daniel Mullings) is pretty good.
UNC was really bothered by the Aggies' length. At one point, I think McKines was at the top of the full court pressure with Watson and either Sy or Laroche near midcourt. That's pretty tough to see over or dribble through.
If the Aggies cut their turnovers in half, they pull away faster. Christian Kabongo had a tough night in some respects. He led the Aggies with 20 points, was 50 percent from the floor and 10-13 from the foul line, but eight turnovers is concerning for a guy the Aggies will lean on.
I kind of had a feeling that the Bears couldn't sustain their 6 of 9 3 point effort of the first half. UNC was 2-11 from 3 in the second half. GAME OVER.
NMSU was more talented and they should have won. What I liked is that they played solid long enough to prove they had more class than UNC and then pulled away.
They scored in transition and off TOs, but I think they will see a lot of zone this year and will eventually need to win games in the half court. Banda Sy could provide an answer there, but I'm waiting to see if tonight's 13 second half points and 3-4 shooting from 3 will carry over all season. I think the Aggies are a 3-point shooting by committee team, which makes them harder to prepare for. It was Sy's night tonight though, that 3 he hit after UNC made it a four point game with 6 minutes left was a dagger.