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.
Looking at the roster and the youth on UNC's team, the game should not have been this close. The Aggies 3 point D is still very concerning.
Lets chalk it up to the first road game of the season jitters. However, if we don"t come out better at UNM, we are going to get blown off the court. UNM is scary good. It pains me to say it, but this is the year that the hype is real for UNM.
One of these years Menzies has to beat his daddy right?
I watched the game online and I agree that Bandja was the key. Not just the big 3s that he hit, but he was insanely active on defense. His length and speed gave UNC fits! I hope it continues. He could have a huge affect on the outcome of this season.
I have a feeling that Mullings is going to be a stud. His dunk would have been on top ten if televised. Menzies is going to have to keep him on the floor.
If you evaluate what opens up when Kabongo penetrates my gut tells me that you'd find the 8 turnovers balance out. In the past you had guards who couldn't play-make. Now you've got somebody who consistently probes the defense, creating his own shot and getting folks out of position (how opponents beat the NMSU zone).
Full-court man to man? This I've got to see for myself. If Aggies lose to UNM at least they do it man up the way Steve Alford/Bob Knight can respect (you in the morning). That's good to read in you blog, JG, because the 2-3 zone is not effective. Play some Big 10 style versus UNM until the refs get tired of blowing the whistle.
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