Monday, December 31, 2012

NMSU 0-2 for first time ever in WAC

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team is 0-2 in league play for the first time since joining the Western Athletic Conference.
NMSU fell 81-72 on Monday at Louisiana Tech to drop to 6-8 overall while the Bulldogs improved to 11-3 and 2-0 in conference play.
NMSU trailed 49-39 at halftime and opened the second half 7-for-10 to pull within two on a Daniel Mullings 3-pointer with 13:49 to play. It was the only 3 the Aggies hit on Monday while the Bulldogs were 11-for-22 from 3-point range.
“We played with a lot of heart today,” said Aggies coach Marvin Menzies, whose team lost at Texas-Arlington on Saturday. “They just really shot the lights out. It was a tough road trip but I am encouraged by the effort.”
The Aggies went scoreless for nearly four minutes before Renaldo Dixon hit from inside for two of his nine points with 9:30 to play as NMSU finished 44 percent from the floor. Dixon was 4-for-6 from the floor and led the Aggies with six rebounds as NMSU out rebounded Louisiana Tech 42-33.
The Bulldogs answered most of NMSU’s runs from the 3-point line. It was Kenyon McNeail in the first half and Brandon Gibson in the second half. Gibson was 5-for-5 from 3-point range for 15 points. Gibson drained a 3 to put Louisiana Tech up 74-65 with 8:25 to play.
“We typically do a good job against the 3,” Menzies said. “They hit a lot of shots and a lot of them were challenged.”
NMSU was 23-for-37 (62 percent) from the foul line, led by Tyrone Watson, who was 10-for-14 at the line to finish with 14 points. But Watson missed a pair of free throws with 6:10 to play and the Aggies trailing 74-68 as the Aggies shot 8-of-15 from the line in the second half. Gibson hit another triple to push the lead back to 79-70 with 3:05 left.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 12 in the first half. Louisiana Tech was 7-for-13 from 3-point land in the first half, scoring the most points against the Aggies in a half this season.
McNeail was 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half. He gave Louisiana Tech a 39-27 lead with 4:44 left in the half, but Mullings got the Aggies within six with 2:44 to play. Back-to-back Bulldogs triples helped Louisiana push the lead back to 49-39 at halftime.
Mullings led the Aggies with 21 points and Terrel de Rouen scored a career high 10 points in the first half as the Aggies were 15-for-22 (68 percent) in the first half from the foul line.
“Our guys have to understand that teams are going to get up to play us,” Menzies said. “That’s what happened in both games. That’s discouraging that we were not a little mentally tougher. I didn’t think we had the effort on Saturday night that we had tonight.”

La. Tech: Three keys and a prediction

Marvin Menzies said all the right things after a season-low 47 point effort against Arlington last week. He then said the players met privately. We will see if any of it makes a difference tonight against a program Menzies is 10-1 against.

Seniors step up: NMSU seniors Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson do a lot for the Aggies. Watson does a little bit of everything and that includes responsibilities that should be left to the point guard this year. Despite a poor start offensively this year, Sy has remained steady defensively and he leads the team with 6.6 rebounds per game. But both players have a way of disappearing on the offensive end. This team doesn't have a go to scorer, and although Bhullar looks the part, he is only out there for 20-25 minutes per game. Sy and Watson are best served as complimentary players throughout their careers. It's not their game, but they have to be better offensively.

Turnovers: Louisiana Tech forced Denver, a Princeton style offense, into 16 turnovers on Saturday. The Bulldogs force 17 turnovers per game and NMSU commits 16 TOs per game. Against Southern Miss, another team that pressed for the entire 40 minutes, NMSU turned the ball over 19 times, but they got the win at home.

Transition defense: NMSU tries to get to the offensive glass. The Aggies could have a size advantage against La Tech but if the Aggies don't score or get the offensive rebound, the Bulldogs are running. Kenneth Smith pushes the tempo and has a Daniel Mullings  like motor at the point guard spot. The Bulldogs play four guards and their biggest player is 6-9 Michale Kyser. NMSU has to get back in transition and try to limit the easy baskets or transition 3s. La. Tech only shoots 31 percent from 3, but they have five players who shoot around 30 percent.

I was ready to give the Aggies the win tonight, but they are clearly out of sorts offensively and they aren't good at taking care of the ball, which is something La. Tech thrives on. Final Score, La. Tech 67, NMSU 60

Saturday, December 29, 2012

WAC champs?

New Mexico State certainly didn't appear to be the defending WAC champs on Saturday night. Perhaps the Aggies believed they could show up and win. Other than that, couldn't really tell what the game plan was from watching the game. I know the Aggies are looking at an 0-2 start to WAC though.

New Mexico State never threatened Texas-Arlington in a 68-47 loss at Arlington on Saturday in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
The Aggies scored a season-low 47 points to fall to 6-7 overall entering Monday’s WAC game at Louisiana Tech.
“We didn’t give them any indication of who the WAC champions were when we walked in tonight,” said Aggies coach Marvin Menzies in his postgame radio comments. 
NMSU trailed 37-24 after a sluggish first half on the road and never threatened in the second half.
“The bell went off for the first conference game and we laid an egg on the road,” Menzies said. “I was emotionally embarrassed by our play tonight.”
The Aggies trailed by as many as 15 in the first half as Arlington made 5-of-10 from 3-point range while NMSU was 32 percent from the floor and 4-for-11 from the foul line in the first half. Terrel de Rouen knocked down one of the Aggies two 3-point makes to close NMSU to within nine with two minutes left in the half, but it was as close as NMSU would get as the Aggies finished the first half 2-for-11 from 3-point range.
The Aggies finished 33 percent from the floor, 47.8 percent (11-for-23) from the foul line while Arlington shot 44 percent and scored 12 points off 15 NMSU turnovers.
“It doesn’t matter what we do defensively if we don’t play offensively the way we are supposed to,” Menzies said.
The Aggies trailed 54-32 on a Karol Gruszecki 3-pointer with 10:33 to play. 
NMSU closed to within 13 on a Daniel Mullings lay up with 3:20 left as Mullings led the Aggies with 21 points. Sim Bhullar had 14 points, six rebounds and five blocks in 25 minutes.
“They just kicked our butts from tipoff to the buzzer,” Menzies said. “They outrebounded us by seven, we weren’t blocking them out. We knew how well they rebounded offensively.  ... I’m upset because of the lackluster effort of not answering the call.”

Texas Arlington - Three keys and a prediction

The Aggies open WAC play tonight against Texas Arlington. Hard for me to get a handle on the new WAC teams. Arlington's three losses were to Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State but they did beat North Texas. Could the Aggies beat North Texas? I'm not sure. It should be close.

Keep feeding Sim: I picked Bhullar as the WAC Newcomer of the Year for the preseason, and before Chili Nephawe was injured, I didn't think the pick was looking good. Now that Nephawe is out, I think we have seen who the better player is. Nephawe's career high is 15 points. Bhullar has already had games of 12, 13, 17 and 25 in less than half a season. And against smaller teams, WAC teams, Bhullar has been dominant, shooting 63.5 percent from the field. Arlington's biggest player is Jordan Reeves at 6-10. Reeves averages a double double, but NMSU should have another good size advantage.

Win the ball control game: The Aggies have to take care of the ball on this first road trip as both teams seem to create turnovers. Unlike Louisiana Tech though, Arlington doesn't shoot the 3 very well at 36 percent but UTA does force 17 turnovers per game. NMSU needs to continue taking care of the ball, cutting back on their 16 turnovers per game. Arlington on the other hand, turns the ball over 20 times per game. NMSU could use those turnovers to get some easy baskets.

Get off to a fast start: I want to see NMSU get off to a good start tonight. The Aggies have been solid on the road against good teams. Now they play a team they are better than on the road. The Aggies have to start showing they have improved.

I'm going with the Aggies, 71-64. I think the Aggies have found some  offensive balance with Aronis and Buovac and Sim Bhullar inside.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Watered down WAC

Sim Bhullar has dominated WAC like undersized teams of late. Aggies could ride Bhullar to another WAC title.

LAS CRUCES — The Western Athletic Conference has survived as a basketball league for the time being.
But this is truly the last year the league will remotely resemble the same conference that New Mexico State joined in 2005-06 as Utah State, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech join the mass exodus of familiar foes after this season. The quality of the league has suffered, but this year’s WAC consists of 10 schools, including five newcomers — four of whom won’t be around next year.
It could be a fun race to watch, but don’t get too attached to one particular team because it will all continue to shake up next season.
Here are five story lines as WAC play opens this weekend:

Off to an average start: It doesn’t get much more mediocre than this. WAC teams combined for a 49-49 start to the season in non-conference play. The WAC is the No. 18 RPI conference in the country as only three teams enter conference play better than .500. Some schools like New Mexico State and Denver have played challenging non-conference schedules while failing to gather quality wins while others such as Utah State has collected wins without testing themselves against quality competition. More teams means 18 league games. It’s likely that 15 wins can win the league title in what should develop into a three, possibly four-team race. It results in what has been the case for some time — only one WAC team will enter the NCAA Tournament. 

Aggies vs. Aggies: Either New Mexico State or Utah State has won the last four WAC Tournament championships. Rivalries are born when championships are on the line, but this year will be the last time both will be in the league as the UtAgs head for the Mountain West next season. NMSU has won three tournament titles since joining the league with Utah State in 2005-06. The Aggies are 2-1 against Utah State in WAC Tournament play, beating Utah State in the 2006-07 and 2009-10 championship games. Utah State has appeared in the WAC Tournament championship game in five of the seven years since joining the league. The two programs were picked atop the WAC once again. It would only be fitting to settle things with another NCAA bid on the line.

Watch out for those Bulldogs: Louisiana Tech is proving to be no one-hit wonder after spoiling its way into the WAC Tournament championship game last year as a No. 5 seed. The Bulldogs are 9-3 this season and they lead the WAC in scoring with 73.8 points per game. Defensively the Bulldogs are fourth in the league at defensive field goal percentage (40.8 percent) and they force 17.5 turnovers per game.

New faces: WAC coaches picked Denver to finish third in the preseason poll as the Pioneers were the highest regarded of the five new schools. But the Pioneers have done little in the non-conference to inspire confidence with just four wins despite playing one of the league’s toughest schedules. Texas Arlington is 5-3 entering WAC play.

Top players: Daniel Mullings is the best player on New Mexico State’s roster, but the Aggies have found a dominant presence in 7-foot-5 freshman center Sim Bhullar. The Aggies will have a substantial size advantage on opponents in league play. In the Aggies last three games against such teams (Southern Mississippi, South Alabama, Missouri State), Bhullar is shooting 78 percent and averaging 18 points per game. San Jose State’s James Kinney leads the WAC ins scoring with 22.6 points per game and Louisiana Tech’s super sophomore Raheem Appleby is third at 17.8 points per game. The WAC’s preseason player of the year, Utah State’s Preston Medlin, has been slow to heat up, averaging 13.6 points per game to start the year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

6-6 entering WAC

After a 71-51 victory over Missouri State on Saturday, New Mexico State enters WAC play 6-6.

I wanted to see if you are disappointed? Is it where they should be? Concerned?

I had the Aggies going 7-5 entering WAC play so I'm not surprised by the record. This team had a lot of things to work through coming into the season so some growing pains were to be expected. I think the Aggies will be fine without Nephawe with Bhullar and Dixon playing center. Not as deep but I doubt Nephawe could score 25 like Bhullar did on Saturday.

The point guard spot appears to be KC Ross-Miller's despite mediocre results like a 1to1 assist to turnover ration, not what you are looking for from that spot. I don't think the WAC is going to be that good this year and the Aggies should still contend but I could see them losing games they shouldn't throughout the season, perhaps costing them a shot at a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lobos 68, Aggies 63

Tyrone Watson
"I would say they played better defense in the second half on the 3-point line. Overall we were 10-for-17 we were making 3s but we just fell short. ... Our shooters were on the bench so that could be a little frustrating at times when there aren't shooters on the court. We are still trying to pound the ball inside. ... Usually they let us shoot the 3s. This time we were making the 3s. They made a halftime adjustment and we struggled to make the easy ones. ... First half we shot good from the free throw line, and then ended 11-20. We spotted them nine points and they won by five. ... We looked on it on film and we weren't really pounding the ball inside. We figured if we could get (Kirk and Adams) in foul trouble, eventually they would have some problems. ... We try to do it for the the city, for the fans and for the university and we just fell a couple possessions short."

Steve Alford
"We won the last four minute game and we have done that a lot this year so that's a good trend. ... (Kendall Williams) that would have changed how we subbed but he came back and he was just terrific. He's playing at a very high level. ... (Tony Snell) We challenged Tony at half. I keep telling him he is our shooting guard, not our screener. I thought in second half, he moved a lot better. He hasn't been getting to the free throw line and our whole team is getting to the free throw line. He's got to get there because he's a 90 percent free throw shooter, he is our best 3 point threat. I thought he worked a lot harder in the second half to get shots. ... Our game plan in both games, we were hoping it was going to be post play. Their big kid is big but I don't think he's going to be a double-double guy yet. I don't think Dixon could be a double-double guy yet so those shots were taken away from Sy and Watson and Mullings). We weren't going to trap, we weren't going to double. If you look at the center position in both games at the center position, if you look at points and rebounds,  I think we come out ahead. I think that was key. ... I don't think there was an adjustment. We just said contest more. They haven't been a good 3-point shooting team. To their credit, in the first half they made 3s. Aronis was a good 3-point threat we knew that and he kind of got away from us a little bit. The other guys, Dixon made a 3, Miller might have made his second all year. We weren't really concerned about it. We just wanted to contest a little better because I think the key to it was trying to take away the dribble drive. ... We caught them at halftime and just told our guys they have not been a good 3-point shooting team but they just made 6-of-7 and they are still down two."

Marvin Menzies
"Tip your hat to the Lobos. They are on a roll right now. I thought we could get a win here. Our guys were really shooting the ball well in practice but it wasn't meant to be. They are the better team and they proved it by beating us twice. ... We drove, we did what we designed to  do. We can't get to the free throw line if they don't call fouls. I have to watch the tape. I think we were hit a lot more than we got called. They called the games like they call the games. It's one of the components you can't control. ... Not having Chili hurts. Sim played his heart out. He's a work in progress. We didn't have the manpower to beat them tonight. I was concerned about rebounding and I challenged them there. I just have to ask them to do everything I guess. We will get there eventually. ... Kendall Williams came off a broken foot and went to work. It was the Kendall show. ... It was tough because Bandja was rebounding really well and I couldn't take Daniel out because he was subbing for (Aronis). Maybe so."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UNM: Three keys and a prediction

Turnovers aren't an issue, unless the Aggies are very sloppy with the ball, which they weren't in Albuquerque and I don't expect them to be again against the Lobos. UNM doesn't force turnovers. It's not what they do. So here are three things NMSU needs to do tonight to get a win.

Defend the 3: UNM only made seven 3s on Saturday but it felt like more.
"When you see a 3 ball go in that's a dagger," sophomore guard Terrel de Rouen said. "Then if we go down and miss a shot and they come and hit another 3, that's a killer. That's the biggest thing is taking them off the 3-point line.
"I don't think our transition game was too bad, but when someone gets to the middle of the floor, it messes up rotations for your defense."
Players and coaches talked about the majority of UNM's 3s were open. The Lobos set a lot of ball screens, mostly with Kendell Williams. NMSU did a good job for stretches, but the Lobos take advantage of breakdowns. Look for NMSU to almost sacrifice the drive tonight just making sure to chase people off the 3-point line. Another part of that is transition play. If the Aggies don't turn the ball over, they can't take bad shots that give the Lobos transition.

Patience offensively: A lot of talk about Tyrone Watson and Bandja Sy with an off night on Saturday. Here's a little nugget to remember though. The Lobos extended their lead in the second half with Kendall Williams, Tony Snell and Alex Kirk on the bench. Even if Watson and Sy are better, the Aggies have to get the ball inside to Sim Bhullar and Bhullar has to attack Kirk. Renaldo Dixon has to attack Kirk and the Aggies have to make open shots when they get them. NMSU was 4-16 from 3-point range on Saturday.

Mix it up: Marvin Menzies said the Aggies tried to play zone defense on a couple possessions. The Lobos hit a 3 out of a timeout on one and then got to the paint on another. Playing zone against a team with a lot of shooters is risky business, but playing with Sim Bhullar on the court wouldn't be a bad idea when he's on the court considering the Lobos bring him out away from the basket where he only collected two rebounds in the first game. I think the Aggies could also pressure the Lobos more full court at times. I like de Rouen and think he can bother Hugh Greenwood like Hernst Laroche did last year. Renaldo Dixon is obviously more mobile than Bhullar so extending the pressure  and creating some turnovers could jumpstart the NMSU offense.

I don't expect the Aggies to change much from the first game. The reality is NMSU played good enough defense in Albuquerque to hang around. I expect the game to be closer but the Lobos have already beaten NMSU and it's going to take something in addition to hoping Watson and Sy have better games. Lobos win 65-61

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Alford and Menzies

Following New Mexico's 73-58 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday, Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said that the inner-state rivalry is about more than Steve Alford vs. Marvin Menzies. It's a long standing rivalry and the Aggies play four hard rivalry games every year. Menzies is right of course, but Alford is still 9-2 against the Aggies under Menzies. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two under-the-radar players who can make a difference

Just got to The Pit two hours early.

I've written about Sim Bhullar and Renaldo Dixon as two players who should see extended minutes without Chili Nephawe. It's a big opportunity for both players, who I feel have the ability to step in and possibly make the Aggies better in the long run. Bhullar has played two really good games back to back but the Lobos will be physical with him today. Dixon has yet to show that he can contribute consistently.

But here are two guys who if they come off the bench and are productive tonight, the Aggies will win this game.

Terrel de Rouen — The Lobos have the edge at point guard, no doubt about it. Hugh Greenwood is a solid player, but he was bothered by pressure last year. Of course that was UNM's second game. I don't think KC Ross-Miller starts but de Rouen is a big guard who is athletic enough to bother Greenwood and/or Jamal Fenton. Problem is, neither Aggie point guard has proven capable of taking care of the ball.

Kevin Aronis — Aronis was brought in as a shooter, but it's hard to tell if the Aggies are even using him. Playing time has dropped off dramatically to 13 minutes in the past two games where he hasn't attempted a field goal. If the Aggies aren't in transition, they can't get Aronis open for a 3. If Aronis is aggressive and looks for his shot early, I think the Aggies need to hit some 3s and perhaps Aronis can get himself going tonight.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nephawe injured

Marvin Menzies said on Thursday that center Tshilidzi Nephawe did undergo surgery sometime in the past week for an injury in his right hand, believed to be torn ligaments in the thumb. It sounds like it's not clear if he will return or not this season. Perhaps he could return to the lineup sometime before the end of WAC play, but that's a guess.

I've been wanting to see more of Renaldo Dixon, and he figures to be next in line to back up Sim Bhullar, which could be a fine duo in conference play. Against the Lobos I'm not sure. Dixon vs. 6-9 Bairstow could be an important matchup in the game.

I also asked about Daniel Mullings, who still is on a liquid diet with a wired jaw.

"Daniel is better but he's still not Daniel," Menzies said. "There is a fatigue factor and a nutrition factor."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

UNM: Five keys for NMSU at Lobos

Rivalry series often consist of peaks and valleys, especially one that dates back to 1904.
New Mexico has certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of recent success against New Mexico State on the basketball court. The Lobos had won seven straight against the Aggies prior to last season, when the Aggies won for the first time at The Pit since 2002. The teams still split the series last year as the Lobos won at the Pan American Center to record their eighth victory in the last nine meetings with NMSU.
Here are five things the Aggies have to do to swing the rivalry back to their favor when the teams meet again on Saturday at The Pit in Albuquerque:

Closing time: The Lobos have certainly earned their 10-0 record and No. 17 ranking. UNM won 28 games last year, winning 22 games by a double-digit margin. The Lobos have already won six games by double digits this season, including come-from-behind efforts against Davidson and George Mason. The biggest difference between the in-state rivals this year appears to be their ability in the final minutes. Whether it’s discipline, execution or just good luck, the Lobos have found ways to grind out wins while the Aggies have lost second-half leads to Niagara and UTEP. Even in a road win at South Alabama on Dec. 4, the Aggies nearly lost a 17-point advantage. NMSU was 6-for-10 from the foul line in the last eight minutes, but the Jaguars were equally inept at 5-for-12 in the second half. The Aggies haven’t struggled in the opening minutes this season. If they are fortunate enough to build a lead on the road on Saturday, the Aggies won’t emerge victorious if their streaky play down the stretch continues.

Win the 3-point battle: The Aggies held the Lobos to 28 percent shooting from the floor last year in a 62-53 victory at The Pit, the lowest percentage for a Steve Alford team. UNM was 7-for-19 from the 3-point line, including off nights for key returners Kendall Williams (0-for-4), Tony Snell (3-for-6) and Demetrius Walker (1-for-2). The Lobos score 27 percent of their 73 points per game from 3-point range and shoot 33 percent from 3-point range. Guarding the 3 has been an Aggies’ strength for the past two years, illustrated by Bandja Sy’s game-sealing block of Phillip McDonald’s 3-point attempt in the final minute last year. Sy and sophomore guard Daniel Mullings match up well against Snell and Williams. The Aggies would also be served well by hitting a few 3s of their own as UNM opponents have shot 34 percent against the Lobos from 3-point range. Mullings has knocked down open shots this year, shooting 57 percent from 3-point range this year. His teammates need to do the same.

Limit turnovers: Turnovers have been coming fast and at inopportune times for the Aggies this season. NMSU turns the ball over 25 percent of the time or 17 times per game. The Aggies committed 17 turnovers against South Alabama. UNM doesn’t pressure teams into turnovers, forcing just 13 per game, but the Lobos have length on the wings that can easily make the Aggies pay for lazy passes. 

Free throw disparity: The Lobos are taking a page out of NMSU’s playbook from a year ago, using the free throw line to its advantage. The difference is the Lobos are not only getting to the foul line, but shooting 76.6 percent from the line, ranking 18th nationally. UNM leads the country with 21.6 made free throws per game and the Lobos are third with 28.2 free throw attempts per game. The Aggies attempt 25 free throws per game so NMSU can neutralize the Lobos at the line if they improve on the 66 percent mark from the line so far this season.

For WAC’s sake: The Western Athletic Conference is starving for quality wins and a victory over the No. 17 Lobos would be the league’s best win by a wide margin. The WAC was 37-37 overall entering Monday. The Mountain West by contrast has been among the best leagues in the country, going 57-16 in the non conference with a number of signature wins and a No. 5 RPI ranking. NMSU can boast the league’s best win with a 68-60 win against Southern Mississippi, along with Louisiana Tech’s victory over the same Southern Miss team and a Utah State victory over Santa Clara.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly WAC rankings

Still hard to get a good idea. Utah State and Seattle aren't playing and San Jose isn't playing anybody.
I still can't get La. Tech over Utah State despite the difference in games played and I'm wondering how good that Southern MIss team is after losing road games to two WAC schools last week as the WAC enters this week 36-36 with some non-Div I games mixed in there.

Aggies/Lobos and San Jose/Santa Clara are games to watch this week.

We will get a better idea on San Jose this week. They played on the road at Kansas but other than that, another weak schedule in the WAC. They host a 6-2 Santa Clara team this week, probably a better indicator of how they will do in the WAC. Santa Clara lost by two to Utah State.

Rank                          Previous                      Last week                                   This week           
1. Utah State (5-1)        1                        W  W. Oregon                                       Sat @ Utah Valley

2. La. Tech (8-2)           2                    L @ NW State, W vs. S. Miss    Wed @ McNeese St. Mon @ Little Rock

3. NMSU (5-4)              3                      W @ S. Alabama                                     Sat @ New Mexico

4. Arlington (4-2)           4                     W @Texas Pan American                        Thurs. Houston Baptist

5. Denver (2-5)             7                   W Mercer                                                   Sat. Neb.-Omaha

6. San Jose St. (5-3)     8                 W Cal Davis, W Sac St.                               Tue. Santa Clara

7. UTSA (3-6)               5               L @ Miss. State, L S. Carolina Upstate

8. Idaho (3-5)                6              W @ E. Wash., L @ UTEP                            Sat. Walla Walla

9. Texas State (4-5)      9          L Oral Roberts, W Texas Pan American      Sat @ Texas, Mon @ Northwestern

10. Seattle (2-3)            10                                            Mon. @ E Wash, Thurs. Washington, Mon Jackson St.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NMSU with first road win

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team picked up its first road win of the season, beating South Alabama 58-52 in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday.
“I feel fortunate to get out of  here with a win based on our recent history to finish games,” Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. “I knew it would be a close game. I wasn’t sure who would have the lead in the last four minutes. We got stops when we needed them.”
The Aggies led by six at halftime and held off the Jaguars to improve to 5-4 on the season. Aggies senior Bandja Sy stole an attempted backdoor pass by Jaguars guard Freddie Goldstein with 20 seconds left and the Aggies leading by three.
South Alabama entered the game shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. The Jaguars were 5-for-17 (29 percent) from long range on Tuesday and 32 percent from the floor.
“We didn’t have great offensive execution,” Menzies said. “We have to get out point guards and bigs in sync. It was a plus for us the way we defended the 3-point line, 29 percent is huge. Our defense has been carrying us.”
Leading by six at halftime, NMSU turned the ball over on seven of its first 10 possessions in the second half after committing seven turnovers in the first half. South Alabama closed to within two with 15:34 to play but the Aggies answered with a 9-2 run that pushed the lead back to nine with 11:10 to play.
Neither team was good at the foul line — NMSU was 9-for-18, but the Aggies made just enough, 6-for-10, in the last eight minutes to hold the Jaguars off. South Alabama closed to within two with two minutes to play but the Jaguars were just 9-for-17 from the line.
Sy had 11 points and 14 rebounds as the Aggies shot 48 percent from the floor. Daniel Mullings led the Aggies with 13 points and Sim Bhullar had 12 points in 16 minutes.
The Aggies led 31-25 at halftime after leading by 17 with 8:08 left in the first half. Five of NMSU’s seven first-half turnovers were in the last eight minutes as the Jaguars closed to five on an Augustine Rubit follow with three seconds left.
Rubit’s bucket was one of few easy looks for the Jaguars, who started 3-for-19 and shot 30 percent from the floor in the first half while NMSU was 52 percent. South Alabama was 1-for-7 from 3-point range in the first half. 
The Aggies went up 17-4 on a Watson floater with 12:50 left in the first half to cap a 15-0 NMSU run. Terrel de Rouen drove to the basket for another lay in to put NMSU up 23-6 with 8:08 to play in the half as part of a 21-2 NMSU run.

South Alabama: Three keys and a prediction

 NMSU started the 2007-08 season 0-7 on the road. That included losses at Duke, Louisville, Texas and WEst Virginia on a neutral court and road losses to UNM and UTEP. Probably the hardest schedule under Menzies.

NMSU is 0-4 on the road this year entering tonight's game at Sun Belt's South Alabama.

Defend the 3: South Alabama shoots 40 percent from 3-point range and score 32 percent of their 74 points per game from the 3. The Aggies hold opponents to 30 percent from 3 so tonight should be a good test.  Junior guard Xavier Roberson shoots 50 percent from 3, Senior Freddie Goldstein shoots 28 percent and junior Antoine Allen shoots 39 percent. Guard Mychal Ammons is another big guard at 6-6 who scores 12 ppg and shoots 53 percent from 3 but on just 17 attempts.

Mirror Southern Miss game plan: Like Southern Miss, South Alabama is an undersized team that likes to play fast, 72 possessions per 40 minutes. I don't think the Aggies will face full court pressure the entire game though like they did against Southern MIss, however. Sim Bhullar played like the 7-5 monster he is, on both ends of the floor. Chili Nephawe was also good. If the Aggies are to play an extended period of time without Nephawe down the line, I think the Aggies have players in Dixon and Barry who could compliment Bhullar. NMSU scored 34 points in the paint against Southern Miss and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and shoot nearly 70 percent at the foul line. That's a good formula for a road win.

Turnovers: Continues to be a key for this team. NMSU got away with 20 turnovers at home, but I would say 20 plus turnovers cost the Aggies road wins at Niagara and UTEP. South Alabama forces about 17 turnovers per game.

South Alabama has two Sun Belt wins already so they have played meaningful games. They have experienced players, but the fact that South Alabama wants to play fast plays into the Aggies preferred style. It's slow teams that NMSU struggles with.

Final score, New Mexico State 70, South Alabama 62

Monday, December 3, 2012

Weekly WAC rankings

Utah State has played five games but they have a big one against BYU this week. While other teams have been playing games, USU has been practicing, which is a good thing for Stew and a new team. Louisiana Tech continues to rack up wins against no name teams, but the Bulldogs are 7-1. Appleby had 34 against Georgia State. 

Aggies jump up by virtue of Denver losing to Southern Miss, a team NMSU beat, although the Aggies  had Southern Miss at home while Denver traveled. 

Other notes, Arlington beat North Texas, but North Texas also lost to Louisiana. Perhaps Stephen Madison is a capable second scorer for Idaho 21 vs. Cal Davis. Denver with the worst record but with the toughest schedule. 

Rank Team (W-L)               Previous              Last week                                                       This week              
1. Utah State (4-1) 1            W @ Santa Clara Wed @ BYU, Sat vs W. Oregon

2. La. Tech (7-1) 2         W vs. SE La., W @ Ga. St.               Tues @ NW State, Sat. vs. S. Miss.

3. NMSU  (4-4) 5 L @ UTEP, Sat., W S. Miss                           Tues @ South Alabama

4. UT-Arlington (3-2) 6       W @ N. Texas, L @ Texas, Mon @ Texas Pan Am,

5. UTSA (3-4) 3 L @ Oregon, L @ Bakersfield          Tues. @ Miss. St, Sat. @ SC Upstate

 6. Idaho (2-4)                7 L @ Wash. St, W vs. Cal Davis                   Thurs. @ E. Wash, Sat. @ UTEP

7. Denver (1-5) 4 L. @ S. Miss, L @ Stanford                 Wed. vs. Mercer

8. San Jose State (3-3) 9 L @Kansas, W @ Montana St Wed. @ Cal-Davis, Sat. vs. Sac St.

9. Texas State (3-4) 10 L vs. Utah                         Wed. vs. Oral Roberts, Sat. vs. Texas Pan Am

 10. Seattle (2-3) 8 L @ Stanford, L vs. Boise

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sim Bhullar's brother in town to watch brother's career night

Sim Bhullar posted a career high 17 points with 7 rebounds and two blocks in New Mexico State's 68-60 victory over Southern Miss. Among those in attendance was 7-3 2014 prospect and younger brother, Tanveer Bhullar.

Saturday was an unofficial visit, coming to Las Cruces for the first time with his mother, who was in town for the second time as the family surprised Bhullar for his 20th birthday on Sunday.

"He thought that KC's family was going to come. So KC told him to drive him to the airport to pick up his family and we were there. He said this is the most surprised he has ever been in his entire life," Tanveer Bhullar said.

Tanveer Bhullar reclassified as a 2014 prospect. He attends Father Henry Carr in Toronto.

"I think we are 9-0 right now and we are the No. 1 team in Canada," Tanveer Bhullar said. "After high school basketball, I will just be working out and get ready for AAU."

Bhullar said the Aggies have offered him. Having his older brother on the roster is an obvious selling point, underscored by a very good performance by the Aggies in a win over a good Southern Miss team.

"It gives me a chance to look at the school. If I have questions about the school, I can just ask my brother. I know some of the Canadian guys on the staff and I know coach Weir well."

Bhullar said Eastern Michigan, Rice, Jacksonville State are among the schools who have offered. The only high majors so far are Seton Hall and Providence.

I asked Bhullar to evaluate what he has seen so far from Sim Bhullar as a college player.

"I can just see that he hasn't been playing like he used to play. Tonight is how he used to play. He lost a lot of weight (70 pounds). I'm surprised. I can see when they push him, he can't push back. I've been watching the games online."

The fact that the Aggies have been to two NCAA Tournaments in three years helps.

"It's always a positive because every year the school is going to develop more and more."

Tanveer looks like, and sounds like his brother. I asked about their playing style.

"People have told me I'm more finesse. I don't dunk the ball like he does. That's something I have to work on."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Southern Miss: Three keys and a prediction

Southern Miss is a different team than the team that beat the Aggies on two occassions last year. The problem is they are just as good, if not better.

Southern Miss is 6-0 on the season under first year coach Donnie Tyndall, who replaced Larry Eustachy. The two biggest differences between last year and this year, Southern Miss presses for most of the game and they play zone defense for most of the game. Under Eustachy, Southern Miss was a man--to-man team. The results have been similar. Southern Miss is still hard to score on and the Golden Eagles haven't been out rebounded yet despite an undersized rotation.

Handle the press: I wrote about the Aggies' turnovers problems yesterday. NMSU has averaged 23 turnovers in their past three games against DI opponents. Southern MIss's press is a 2-2-1 zone press and all of the players are basically the same size and athletic. Southern Miss won't necessarily press full court the whole game, but it is capable of turning teams over. Like the Aggies, Southern MIss wants to score in transition and creating 16 turnovers per game helps them do that. This game should be more open than the UTEP game.

Handle the zone: Southern Miss plays a 2-3 zone after picking up full court. Two ways the Aggies can beat the zone. Offensive rebounds, which I will talk about, and hitting some 3s. Daniel Mullings is shotting 50 percent at the Pan Am from 3-point range, Kevin Aronis is shooting 46.7 percent and Bandja Sy is averaging 10 ppg at home.

Dominate the glass: Southern Miss is undersized, but they were last year as well and outrebounded NMSU in both meetings. Somewhat surprising is the Golden Eagles getting to the offensive glass against the Aggies in both games. Southern Miss hasn't been out rebounded yet this year. NMSU couldn't get enough of an edge on the boards against UTEP, which bogged their transition down and allowed UTEP to get back. NMSU needs to score on offensive rebounds, which from watching past Aggie teams play the zone, the zone leaves the defensive team vulnrable to offensive rebounds.

Marvin Menzies and Bandja Sy each said the Aggies should, key word, should, be ready to play against the 2-2-1 full court zone press and the 2-3 zone. NMSU plays both defenses, going up against it in practice. But the Aggies haven't shown much of either defense thus far.
"I'm a little more concerned about it than I would be had we been going up against it in practice," Menzies said. "It's a similar zone to the one that we play and are going to play but we just haven't put it all in yet. They use different levels of pressure with it so there is a concern with the way we handled the pressure at UTEP, which was not very well."
If the Aggies continue to rebound well, and take advantage of an undersized team on the offensive boards particularily, it can neutralize Southern Miss in transition, where they are deadly. Not a great 3-point shooting team either so it sounds like they depend on their defense for their offense.
This should be a faster game and turnovers may cancel each other out as Southern Miss also turns the ball over.

Final score, New Mexico State 72, Southern Miss 67

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Was it a foul?

Was Chris Washburn over the back? Did Chili Nephawe have position? Was it a no-call?

Here is some video that includes the foul that put Washburn on the line to beat the Aggies. Thanks to Duke Keith.

Turnovers robbing Aggies of early wins

Daniel Mullings has narrowly missed potential game winning shots in losses to Niagara and UTEP — both games the Aggies had late leads. NMSU by 20 in the first half at Niagara and a four-point lead in the last 1:34 on Wednesday, a two point edge with 26 seconds left. The common thread in both games was turnovers.
Perhaps the Aggies biggest weakness was exploited in the first possession of Wednesday’s 55-54 loss at UTEP as the Aggies turned the ball over 20 times leading to 22 points.
The Miners trapped sophomore point guard KC Ross-Miller as soon as he touched it on two of NMSU’s first three possessions for two of Ross-Miller’s five turnovers as the starting point guard.
But to single KCRM out would be unfair. Fellow starters Bandja Sy, Tyrone Watson and Chili Nephawe had four turnovers each. Ross Miller had nine points, two assists and two steals in 28 minutes. Terrel de Rouen had three points, an assist no turnovers in 12 minutes. Both of them had their moments but I wouldn’t say either can be trusted at this point down the stretch of a close game.
A lot of talk about the double dribble on Watson that gave the Miners the ball back with 24 seconds left. It spoiled what was initially a very smart play by Watson. He threw the ball off of Julian Washburn’s back before the Miners could set up their press because neither Sy nor Ross-Miller could get open but UTEP bailed them out with one of their many fouls to give. So Watson got the ball cleanly and raced up court.
“We probably could have managed it a little bit different,” Menzies said. “Maybe we dribble it out and get fouled, get spacing. We had a timeout I believe. Maybe he thought he had numbers and you never want to stop a roll if he’s going to get a lay up.”
Sy had a turnover with 43 seconds left that helped the Miners get to 54-52 with 26 seconds left.
“We lost the game with turnovers. They caused some of them. They are a good defensive team,” Menzies said.
So against the last three Division I teams the Aggies have played, NMSU has averaged 23 turnovers per game, losing two of those games on missed last second shots by Daniel Mullings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

UTEP 55, NMSU 54

I think the Aggies got a bad call when Chili Nephawe was whistled for a foul with five seconds left when it looked like he had position against Chris Washburn. 

But 20 turnovers for 22 UTEP points stood out just as much as a foul call in that situation. NMSU had their way in the first half, got into the paint with Watson or Ross-Miller off the dribble, but there was a five minute scoreless streak that cost them their lead. 

Daniel Mullings had his jaw wired shut on Tuesday. I believe the injury that fractured the jaw was suffered at Niagara, and then his face was cut against Louisiana. Menzies said he can play through it for the next four weeks, but his minutes should be monitored. He played 27 minutes on Wednesday. Here is the story.

EL PASO — For the second straight year, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team couldn’t close UTEP out at the Don Haskins Center.
NMSU led the rival Miners by four with 1:34 to play, but a potential game-winning Daniel Mullings 3 at the horn rimmed out and UTEP beat the Aggies 55-54 on Wednesday in El Paso.
“We lost by one and we had 20 turnovers,” Aggies senior Tyrone Watson said. “If you do the math and you minus that by 10 we probably win by seven.”
 Mullings played 27 minutes despite having his jaw wired shut on Tuesday in addition to stitches remaining in his face from a fall against Louisiana. He hit a long two at the end of the first half to give NMSU a four-point edge, but his 3 from the top of the key at the final horn hit the front rim, bounced off the backboard and again hit the rim before rolling out.
“That shot at the end, I put my whole heart into that ball as he shot it,” Watson said. “It was just off.”
Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said Mullings’ jaw will remain wired closed for four weeks but the sophomore guard can still play through that time.
But it wasn’t Mullings’ heroic effort that stood out. It was NMSU’s 20 turnovers that cost the Aggies (3-4) a winnable game on the road.
“We lost the game with turnovers,” Menzies said. “They caused some of them.”
The Aggies went nearly five minutes late in the second half without scoring, but an 8-2 flurry edged the Aggies to the brink of their first win at UTEP since 2009. NMSU went up 54-50 with 1:34 to play as Mullings put back a Watson air ball as the shot clock expired.
NMSU switched to a 2-3 zone for the first time the next time down but John Bohannon found an opening and converted a three-point play to close the Miners to within one with 27.2 seconds left.
“They were doing the same stuff the whole game, there was just missed opportunities,” Watson said. “It was a rough five minutes. We were playing defense but the offense was kind of off but we had our chances at the end of the game.”
The Aggies turned the ball over on their next two possessions. The second turnover was Watson’s fourth as he threw the inbound pass to himself off Julian Washburn’s back, dribbled to half court but was called for double dribble.
“Turnovers are an issue and I’m going to take some blame for that too,” Watson said. “I had a handful today. I was trying to make some plays, which I thought were there which probably were not there.”
Chris Washburn provided the final points, converting a one-and-one with 5.9 seconds left to play.
NMSU center Tshilidzi Nephawe was called for the foul that sent Washburn to the line, as Newphawe appeared to have position on the block for a defensive rebound on a Bohannon miss.
“The officiating is what it is,” Menzies said. “It (fouls) was at 7-2 at one point. I thought if it was a close game they could manage the game. I’m not too happy with the officiating but it’s the road.”
UTEP head coach Tim Floyd had the advantage at that point as the Miners still had two fouls to give. Jacques Streeter used one of them to stop Mullings at halfcourt with two seconds left, plenty of time for Mullings to take the inbounds play, dribble to his left and get a decent look.
Mullings finished with seven points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals. Watson had 13 points, all in the first half.
Game stats were even up and down the board between two rivals starving for a quality win, with the exception of one glaring number.
NMSU had 20 turnovers and UTEP had 13. The Miners turned those turnovers into 22 points.
“I’m proud of the guys with their effort but when you take steps to get better, you want results,” Menzies said. “We weren’t going to get results because we didn’t get better tonight.”

Tim Floyd on "junk defenses"

Tim Floyd says the box-and-1 and triangle-and-2 defense that he uses to frustrate the Aggies first came about at Iowa State in the 1990s.

"Probably around 1994-98 to stop a player like Paul Pierce would be my guess," Floyd said. "It has been effective for us at times. You have to give the opposing coaches credit because if it works one time down the court, you don't know if it's going to be as effective the next time. You are always trying to eliminate the best two scorers on a team however you might do that."

With respect to this year's UTEP team, NMSU could see some box and 1 or triangle and 2. The Aggies don't have one player like last year and Wendell McKines, but Floyd isn't exactly praising his team defensively so far this year.

"We are primarily a man to man team, but we do things to try to disrupt the other team, but we haven't been good at any of it," Floyd said. "We need to be practicing at this point rather than playing games to be honest with you."

Floyd isn't high on his team's rebounding either, stressing getting back in transition instead of trying to challenge teams on the glass. It could help the Aggies get some easy points. NMSU's rebounding rate is 62 percent and UTEP collects 41 percent.

"We are not a dominant rebounding team and we are not winning on the offensive boards," Floyd said. "So we try not to give up points in transition. Unfortunately we have not been good there either. We are giving up a lot of lay ups and 17 foot jump shots."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UTEP: Three keys and a prediction

I think the Aggies can win this game on the road, but I'm not as confident as I was for the road game last year. Let me refresh your memory. UTEP point guard, then junior Jacques Streeter, denied Wendell McKines the ball in a box-and-1 defense. Meanwhile, the Miners were red hot offensively, hitting 11 of 14 for a 24-6 lead with 13 minutes left in the first half. McKines didn't attempt a field goal in the first half and finished with 4 points. NMSU took McKines out of the game, started making shots and actually led by five with 7 minutes left but UTEP outscored NMSU 10-4 in the last four minutes.

Patience offensively: The Aggies don't have a single player capable of scoring like McKines this year, so I'm not sure if the Aggies will see a box and 1 or triangle and 2 at least to start the game. But the Miners do want an ugly game and a slow game in the 50s so NMSU will have to score somehow in the half court. The way NMSU has done that and likes to do that are get the ball inside, drive to the rim, grab offensive rebounds or get to the foul line. One thing I noticed is that the Miners are allowing teams to shoot 49 percent from 3-point range, so they are giving up open looks. We will see if NMSU can knock them down. Turnovers also play a role in patience offensively. Against Louisiana, the Aggies guards were in such a hurry to push the ball that they often gave it away before they even got to half court. NMSU post players are also giving the ball away. NMSU has had recent 24 and 26 turnover games. That number has to fall back down to around 14 to win.

Marvin Menzies on UTEP defensively:
"Tim will do that even to who is hot that game. If you have a guy who is scoring really well, even if it's not a prolific scorer but if he gets going in that game, Tim will match up with that guy. ... You just have to understand what your advantages are spacing wise as far as getting high percentage shots against that type of defense. A lot of people call them junk defenses, but if you can perfect a junk defense and I think Tim has done that. ... It's something to prepare for. You don't want to get too far off what you do but you have to be aware that it can get your team out of sync if you're not ready for it."

Defend and rebound: Two things the Aggies have done well for the better part of the last two seasons. I was happy to see NMSU center Tshilidzi Nephawe with double-doubles against the Aggies last two Division I opponents but the level and size of competition picks up again pretty much for the rest of the season and I think Nephawe has to at least maintain his 6.2 rpg if not increase it for the Aggies to be successful. UTEP sophomore Cedrick Lang is 6-9 and has started at the four all season. The surprise to me has been 6-10 junior John Bohannon, who leads the team with 10 ppg and 60 percent from the field. UTEP also has 6-8 freshman Chris Washburn coming off the bench. UTEP hasn't caught fire from long distance yet and the Aggies need to keep that trend going. I think NMSU has length on the perimeter to accomplish that against Streeter, Washburn and Ragland.

Quick start: As noted above, a slow start killed the Aggies last year. Obviously you don't want to fall behind on the road, but I think especially against a team that appears to lack confidence/weapons offensively at this point in the season, if the Aggies play their game, get the rebound, get some transition and putbacks, they could put early pressure on the Miners and make a limited offensive team have to play catch up.

Matchups to watch:
PG —Jacques Streeter vs. KC Ross-Miller, Terrel de Rouen
Menzies: "They've got a senior and we have two sophomores still trying to find themselves a little bit that are improving."

Wing — Bandja Sy vs. Julian Washburn — Washburn is a 6-7 sophomore who is averaging under 10 ppg and shooting 11 percent from 3 point range. Sy is 6-8 and was also off to a slow start offensively. Smaller players have bothered Bandja, but this is a matchup he could potentially succeed in.
Menzies: "Julian, I think is a phenomenal defender. They are both long athletic guys with pretty good midrange games. Hopefully we will have an edge there with experience but we are on the road."

UTEP's Gabriel McCulley was a marginal player who looked like Kevin Garnett last year against the Aggies. He's gone and NMSU has some decent matchups if Nephawe and Sy play as well as I think they can. I think NMSU can win and I picked them to lose this game going into the season. With or without Daniel Mullings, I think NMSU gets a lead early and holds on for a 65-60 victory on the road.

Menzies on Mullings

Menzies' comments on Tuesday indicate the Aggies are being cautious with Aggies guard Daniel Mullings leading up to Wednesday's game at UTEP.

Mullings hit his head on the Pan American Center floor diving for a loose ball against Louisiana on Friday. He took eight stitches with cuts above his left eye, as well as around his mouth after biting through his lip on the play. With the wounds still fresh and the possibility of concussion symptoms, Menzies said Mullings was under evaluation.

"Right now, it's something we are just kind of watching. He's moving in the right direction. It's a matter of time before we know what all that means. He's going to the doctor again today. There are symptoms you can look at to determine if he had (a concussion) or not. We are going through the process of that now. His health is obviously more important."

If Mullings can't go, I expect either guard Kevin Aronis or forward Renaldo Dixon to take his place in the starting lineup.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two big games

NMSU took last week to hopefully shake off some of the offensive issues they have, namely scoring in the halfcourt and turnovers.

24 turnovers against Niagara and 26 against Louisiana aren't good. NMSU has taken care of the ball against Oregon State and Bucknell and they will have to do so pretty much for the rest of the season as there don't appear to be any cupcakes from here on out.

I talked to Tyrone Watson on Monday about the 3-3 start, this week's games, turnovers among other things.

On the Aggies 3-3 start:
"I expected us to be 5-1 or 4-2 at the worst. We just have to stay positive and keep going forward. We don't want to point the finger and then have another rough stretch. It's only three losses and we have a lot of season left."

This week's opponents:
"Those are two teams who beat us last year. Southern Miss is a statement game. We have to prove we can beat them. UTEP I don't have to say too much. We don't like them, they don't like us. These two rivalry games are better teams on average than we play in conference. This is a good test and it will show where we  stand as far as these match ups. ... UTEP is a good environment. It can get rough sometimes if you hear the crowd but we have been here long enough. I like playing away, especially when the crowd is against you. You fuel off that stuff. ... We kind of fell into trouble against Niagara when we were up 20. They kind of slowed the game down and played at their pace the second half. We are still going to push the ball and crash the boards and not let them dictate the game."

On turnovers:
"Sometimes it's just not an alertness and trying to make a play when there isn't a play there. ... A lot of teams are starting to pressure us now so it's hurrying us up and passing the ball not when we want. Everybody needs to just understand the offense and what we want to get out of it. The good thing is we are learning from the mistakes and I hope it doesn't happen."

UTEP's box and 1 last year and adjustments:
"Coach talked about it and we actually prepared for it because teams prior did box and 1 against Wendell. If they go box and 1 we are prepared. If they go triangle and 2 we still have our sets. We have been practicing as if they are going to run those defenses. ... On the fly, that's probably one of our biggest challenges because we are used to people playing straight up man or zone, not throwing a box and 1 or triangle and 2 or pressing us really. That's where we have ran into trouble turning over the ball and offensively scoring. ... The key is still be patient, don't rush and  make the right play. Don't force it in if it's a triangle and 2, kind of work it around and get open shots. At the end of the day, the person that is open just has to make shots."

Weekly WAC ranking

With five wins, Louisiana Tech could be at No. 1, but I honestly can't say I think Louisiana Tech is actually better than Utah State if they were to play right now. Not a lot of movement at the top. Idaho moves out of the basement after playing Lobos tough in The Pit. 

NMSU didn't do enough to move either up or down and Texas State didn't impress in Alaska. Like NMSU, Denver has two good games this week. Denver has a game to keep an eye on Tuesday against Southern Miss. with Southern Miss coming to the Pan Am on Saturday.

Rank Team (W-L)   Move              Last week                                            This week              
1. Utah State (3-1)           W Weber State Wed. @ Santa Clara

2. La. Tech (5-1)W SE Mizzou, W Chattanoog, W La. Monroe        Wed. vs. SE La., Fri @ Ga. St.

3. UTSA (3-2)L BYU              Th. @ Oregon, Sat. @ Bakersfield

4. Denver (1-3)L Colorado State                                   Tues. @ S. Miss.Sun @ Stanford

5. NMSU  (3-3)W NNM, W Louisiana Wed. @ UTEP, Sat., vs S. Miss

6. UT-Arlington (2-1)W Samford Wed. @ N. Texas, Sat. @ Texas,

7.  Idaho (1-3)       10 W Green Bay, L @ New Mexico                     Wed. @ Wash. St, Sat vs. Cal Davis

8. Seattle (2-1)W Pacific Lutheran                           Wed. @ Stanford, Sun. vs. Boise 

9. San Jose State (2-2)W Santa Cruz Mon @Kansas, Sat @ Montana St

10. Texas State (3-3) 7 L Charlotte, L Loyola Marymount, W Riverside    Fri. vs. Utah