The Aggies seem to like the rims at the Pan Am.
NMSU was 21-26 at the line at home on Thursday but in two road games this year, the Aggies are 34-58 at the foul line 58.6 percent. Here are some other thoughts.
New Mexico State couldn’t get the offense going against a very good Bucknell team on Saturday in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
The Aggies fell to 1-2 on the season after a 62-49 loss to Bucknell.
“Like the Oregon State game, it was another opportunity for us,” said Aggies coach Marvin Menzies. “You have to be more efficient to hang with a team like that and that means better shot selection.”
The Aggies play host Niagara at 2 p.m., on Sunday.
Saturday was NMSU’s lowest point total since scoring 49 points at Utah State in 2011. The Aggies shot 29.2 percent on Saturday — the lowest percentage since shooting 28.6 percent in 2009 against UTEP.
The Aggies shot 14-for-48 (29 percent) from the field and 15-of-26 (58 percent) from the foul line. The Bison (4-0) were more efficient offensively, shooting 49 percent from the floor and 79 percent from the foul line (11-of-14).
Bucknell shot 59 percent in the second half.
“Defensively we were very good in the first half, and they got hot in the second half,” Menzies said. “They made some tough shots. The defense was good, but it just wasn’t enough tonight.”
Trailing 28-22 at halftime, NMSU closed to within two on a pair of Daniel Mullings free throws with 14:19 to play. Mullings scored the Aggies first eight points of the second half. He finished with 22 points on 7-for-16 shooting with six rebounds, three assists and a steal. Tyrone Watson had 13 points.
Mullings made both of his 3-point attempts, but the Aggies fell in love with the perimeter shot against the Bison, who played sagging man-to-man to close off the paint.
The Aggies were 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) from 3-point range, but it wasn’t what Menzies was looking for offensively.
“They sagged off and instead of being patient and reversing it and playing inside-out, we ended up settling for the 3,” Menzies said. “That’s OK if you are making them. We didn’t shoot it bad but when you shoot that many, you have to shoot upwards of 40 percent otherwise it’s 11 missed opportunities or bad shots.”
Bucknell pulled away, led by senior center Mike Muscala, who had a field day against NMSU’s center duo of Tshilidzi Nephawe and freshman Sim Bhullar.
Muscala scored eight consecutive points at one point, giving the Bison a 51-39 with a dunk with 5:49 to play. Muscala finished with 24 points and nine rebounds.
“(Nephawe and Bhullar) didn’t do a very good job with (Muscala),” Menzies said. “He is very athletic, very savvy and very skilled.”
Menzies was clearly disappointed with the result, failing to play a complete game on the road against a quality opponent that could help the Aggies down the line.
“They (Bucknell) are definitely a NCAA Tournament team and the type of team that you have be beat when you get to the Dance,” Menzies said. “We knew when we scheduled them that it would be a good opportunity for us. We are eagerly anticipating getting a win under our belt before we head home.”
I asked Menzies about the small lineup that he used for a couple minutes with Dixon, Watson, Mullings Aronis and Sy. Sounds like it's not something we can expect to see on a regular basis.
"It was out of necessity and grasping for straws because nothing was clicking," Menzies said. "We were trying to shake it up defensively but we fouled in it too much."