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