New Mexico State lost its second straight game and its second game of the season to Southern Mississippi, this time 74-66.
Three things I would like to see the Aggies work on with this week off they have. NMSU hasn't had a real practice in nearly two weeks, as they are either traveling or getting ready for an upcoming opponent. I hope they get some shots up, I hope they figure out how to rebound against undersized teams and I hope they work on their zone defense, because I do think it will come in handy at some point during games this season but it didn't look very good against Southern Miss on Sunday.
I think the turnovers will come down from 19. They only had six in the second half.
I was more concerned about the disturbing trend they have the last couple games with sharing the ball. Seven assists with 26 made field goals and 19 turnovers. Christian Kabongo had five turnovers and three assists and Hernst Laroche had four turnovers with one assist. The Aggies had nine assists on 28 baskets against ARizona while the Wildcats had 19 assists.
To me the player that is hard to figure is Kabongo, What do you think? It's hard to argue the results. His ability to get to the foul line and into the paint kept the Aggies in their last two games, but once he has the ball, the ball stops moving. It seems like the paint gets crowded because the Aggies don't have shooters and it takes away the threat of a post player making a move because by the time they get the ball, there is no space. It just seems like it's easier for teams to defend. Just an observation. Here is what Menzies said.
"When we don't score off that initial push, I think we need to get more reversals of the ball. At the same time, it was a tightly officiated game that made it a little more difficult to get any rhythm going."
I asked Menzies why the Aggies struggled with an undersized Southern Miss team on the boards. Southern Miss is the only team to outrebound the Aggies and they've done it twice.
"They are a tough matchup for out fives," said Menzies, referring to NMSU centers Hamidu Rahman and Chili Nephawe. "They are really athletic and hard nosed and it just created problems for Chili and Hamidu. They were really jamming up Wendell and keying on him all night."
"They were just fresher and had more bounce. They just outplayed us. Rebounding didn't hurt us as much in the first half as it did in the second half."
Southern Mississippi defeated NMSU 74-66 on Sunday in Mississippi to drop the Aggies to 5-3 on the season. Southern Miss also defeated NMSU 80-72 in the Great Alaska Shootout.
Southern Miss used the same formula to beat the Aggies, outrebounding NMSU 42-33 with 20 offensive rebounds for 21 second-chance points and 11 more field goal attempts. The Eagles also converted on 21-of-30 free throw attempts and scored 20 points off 19 NMSU turnovers.
“They were just fresher and had more bounce,” Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. “They just outplayed us.”
New Mexico State trailed the entire afternoon. Southern MIss led by as many as 19 and led by 18 in the second half.
The Aggies finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor, closing to within eight twice in the second half.
The first time was midway through the second half to close the Aggies to 56-47, but the Aggies committed turnovers on four straight possessions and Southern Miss pushed the lead back to 18.
NMSU responded with a 10-0 run to make it 65-57 with 5:42 to play. Christian Kabongo made it a seven-point game at 69-62 with 1:02 left but the Aggies’ inability to rebound robbed the Aggies of valuable possession down the stretch.
Kabongo led the Aggies with 21 points and six rebounds, shooting 6-for-17 from the floor.
NMSU attempted just 14 free throws, while Southern Miss was 21-for-30 from the foul line.
Kabongo was 7-for-10 at the foul line, Hernst Laroche had 12 points and Wendell McKines became the 28th player to score 1,000 points at NMSU with 15 points on Sunday.
Southern Miss took a 13-2 lead early as the Aggies didn’t make a field goal until a Kabongo lay up with 14:47 left in the first half. Southern Miss led by as many as 19 with a 13-2 run that put USM up 33-14 with 5:25 left in the first half.
The Aggies closed to within nine on a Daniel Mullings jumper with 1:19 but Page and the Eagles pushed the lead back to 40-26 with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Southern Miss scored 15 points off 13 Aggies turnovers in the first half and scored nine second-chance points after grabbing eight offensive rebounds in the first half.
“The thing that shot us in the foot were the turnovers,” Menzies said. “We had 13 in the first half and it’s tough to fight out of that big hole like that.”