Thursday, November 17, 2011

COMMENTARY: Aggies win ugly, win big

It was not pretty.
Just how the Aggies like it.
My snapshot memories from New Mexico State’s 62-53 victory over New Mexico at The Pit on Wednesday aren’t highlight dunks, blocked shots, or both teams making big shots.
Although this game also included that.
Plays that stand out to me include Daniel Mullings diving into Lobos fans courtside for a loose ball.
Or center Hamidu Rahman walking away with his hands in the air to avoid escalating a situation after he was tackled by Demetrius Walker. Rahman made 1-of-2 free throws on the intentional foul and Wendell McKines converted a three-point play on the extra possession to put the Aggies up for good with 8:57 to play. 
Or Christian Kabongo, who stood in to draw a charge on Tony Snell with 2:52 to play with four fouls.
How about Hernst Laroche, who was buried beneath three Lobos going to the hole with 54 seconds left. Laroche made both free throws to put NMSU up four.
Finally, Bandja Sy blocking Phillip McDonald’s 3-point attempt with 23 seconds left and then converting a three-point play two seconds later on the other end to ice the win and snap a seven-game skid to the Lobos.
Statistically, the Aggies won at The Pit for the first time since 2002 despite every player on the roster having an off night.
McKines, Laroche and Kabongo were a combined 0-for-14 from the floor in the first half. Laroche had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers. Rahman was 8-for-16 from the free throw line and NMSU was 21-for-38 (55.3 percent) from the foul line for the game.
But it was even worse for the Lobos and you have to credit the Aggies for that.
UNM shot 28 percent (14-for-50) from the floor for their worst shooting percentage under Steve Alford.
The fact is that in just two games, NMSU has proven it can adapt to its environment. The Aggies scored 89 points to open the season and 62 in the second game.
The common theme in both games was speeding the game up, defending full court for 40 minutes and making it look sloppy but making plays in crucial situations.
It’s not pretty but it’s working for them and it seems to be a signature for this team.
I’m a Denver Broncos fan but not a believer in quarterback Tim Tebow. But after two straight road wins, I would rather my team win ugly than lose.
NMSU is 2-0 for the second straight year. A home win at UTEP on Saturday would be the Aggies first 3-0 start since they went 4-0 in 2003-04.
And that is beautiful for Aggies fans.

Jason Groves can be reached at (575) 541-5459. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves


Anonymous said...

So did the Aggie's steal a win? I think Menzies was playing coy and that he knows Snell doesn't have the bulk to bang down low if Aggies blanket MacDonald in a man-to-man.

9 pts should be enough for anybody.
-Bill Gates

Anonymous said...

I don't think the 2011-12 Lobos team would win 8 out of 10 meetings in the Pit. More like fifty-fifty. Place odds of them winning in Pan Am rematch Dec 28 at about 2 in 5.