More on Mullings in a second.
But while myself and the rest of the Pan Am were counting Mullings assists and watching the Aggies put up their highest point total since scoring 122 against Texas Tech in 1996-97, there are some numbers that got lost in the shuffle.
This didn't happen against Western New Mexico folks. This game was for second place in the WAC. The Aggies have now overwhelmed Utah State in Logan, a good Drake team and Hawaii in their last three games that count.
The final attendance was listed at 5223. Props to those who came out. Where was everyone else. Second place on the line, second to last home game? I don't get it. Maybe Saturday?
The game was over at halftime. It became a laugher about 10 minutes into the second half. Yet in a game that was so lopsided, Hawaii still had to work to get 70 points. Also, the Aggies had a season high 26 assists on 41 made field goals. Marvin Menzies mentioned the 14 turnovers, but I believe that to be an acceptable number for the Aggies (between 10-14 the way NMSU plays) in a competitive game. Once games get out of hand, bench players can turn the ball over, players lose focus etc. That didn't happen on Thursday. Also, the Aggies were tremendous in transition, scoring 38 points off 24 Hawaii turnovers, which was a season high for Hawaii — 11 of those were a result of NMSU steals.
Back to Mullings. NMSU said Mullings was the first Aggie since William Benjamin in 1992 to record a triple double. Earlier this summer in another blog post, NMSU told me that Benjamin's triple double came in 1990. It was only the third triple double in school history. At any rate, it all started with his work on the defensive end and a lot of those points came in transition. Mullings finished with 28 points, matching Wendell McKines for the largest scoring output of the season. He was 11-15 from the floor and 6-9 from the field. He finished with 10 assists, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He also had five steals and a blocked shot. It was a fun performance to watch and it came from a freshman against a quality team in a league game. Apparently, Mullings was sick throughout the week. I asked him if he had ever had a triple double before and he said he wasn't sure......perhaps in high school.
"Like three minutes left, I just kept hearing them say one more, one more pass. They called me over to the sideline and told me I had one more pass for a triple double. that was kind of the objective. ... It's big for me. It just proves that hard work pays off. I just worked hard on both ends, taking pride in rebounds. My teammates were just feeding me on outlets and I was able to score and get to the line. My teammates were just scoring when I got them the ball. They were just in a rhythm early. I found them in the pace of the game and they finished well. ... We did a great job on Zane Johnson (2-for-8, 8 points, 1-2 3-pt) Especially Bandja. Bandja did a lot better than I could have done. He is a lot taller and long. He was right there. Zane Johnson couldn't breathe. He wasn't able to fly off all those 3 pointers. We all rotated and took responsibility on the defensive end. ... At one point in the second half, it was getting heated. A lot of words were being exchanged. We were about to get into it with them but we calmed down. We talked about it not to let it ruin our game. It ruined their game. They fell apart. Joston (Thomas) fouled out. That was a big bonus for us. I think after he fouled out and they got a couple technicals, they just broke up and we capitalized. ... This is big. We have been ready all week. This has been in our minds, especially the last effort we put up against them even though we came back late. Just remembering they got us at their house. We came in with a focus that we are not going to let them jump on us like that. I think it worked. ... I think without the seniors, we wouldn't be this strong. They have put in a lot of work. It's good to see them for the last night. I will be excited for them."
"This was a very good team that we beat tonight. I didn't expect it to unfold like this. I thought it would be much closer. Sometimes when it rains it pours. It's one game and we have to keep it in perspective. ... The guys were just on fire. It was fun to coach, it was fun to watch. It was good to see the seniors play well. to show the fans the future and Daniel is part of the future. Bandja did a great job on Zane Johnson. That kid is a big time shooter. He only got two shots from the 3 point line. That was our goal to limit his attempts. ... Having six guys in double figures just speaks to the teamwork and having 26 assists. I could just go on and on. As a coach, I see the blemishes as well. We turned it over 14 times and could have shot better from the 3. The offense is for the fans. the defense is for the coaches. ... It just speaks volumes to the future. We have some good players returning and good players coming in. ... Playing Nevada, or this team on a neutral court, it's a different game. You can't let your ego or your previous games dictate how you play your next game. ... I've always said I hate playing against teams that are laden with seniors and now we are one of those teams. It's a good feeling. ... The good is that our guys know they can do it. You can't see yourself playing great games unless you have something to visualize. This is a great reference point. We use UNM at UNM as a reference point for a lot of games. We say we have to do this like we did at UNM at the Pit. So now we have a new reference point. To get it this late in the year, I think is a good thing. ... Wendell barked something out, just pumped up and passionate. It calmed him down. They wanted to set the tone that they didn't want to deal with any nonsense. They came out and really hit us in the mouth to begin the second half so I challenged our guys after a timeout and we came back out and Hamidu probably took it out of context and was jawing a little bit and got dinged with a tech. that's part of the game. I didn't think our techs were overboard but I thought they were both good calls by the officials to control the game."
Hawaii coach Gib Arnold:
"You just tell them it only counts as one loss and you get back on the horse. We got beat, got beat good. They played great. We have to go get one on Saturday. ... Against the Aggies (Vander Joaquim) has gotten in foul trouble early. The first game it didn't hurt us as bad. It definitely hurt us tonight. We were in a lot of foul trouble and playing different lineups against a big aggressive team and we just didn't have it. ... It's hard to guard the foul line. ... I thought they came after (Johnson) and did a great job on guarding Zane. They switched off on him and did a nice job. He was struggling to find his shot. ... I thought we came out, played with some passion for those first four minutes. We fouled quite a bit in the next span and hit some free throws. It went from there. They kept going inside. If they didn't score it, we fouled them. We just couldn't get in a rhythm. We tried different lineups, different defenses. Nothing really worked tonight. They are playing great ball. ... We looked tired tonight and I thought we played tired. Maybe that is something we need to figure out. We have been playing good basketball on the road so we know we can win on the road. Tonight, it seemed like we were a step slow. You hate to make an excuse so we wont but it looked like we had tired legs. We weren't very bouncy tonight."
Where are all the doomsday folks? Good job Aggies and Coach Menzies!!
It was a privilege to witness Mr. Mullings play. Worth the price of a ticket.
The best all around game I've seen from the Aggies, and that's not just because of the point total or differential.
This showing is why some fans are frustrated with the Aggies at times. The potential of this team is evident. The Aggies could easily be a 2-4 loss team on the season and not needing a win in the WAC tourney to get an NCAA bid.
Let's hope the Aggies continue with their Aggressive, unselfish, and focused play through the rest of the games.
Doomsday folks? Great game by the Aggies yes, but lets not get carried away. Hawaii is 13-12 and 6-5 in the WAC. Not a great team. So more of the same. Beat bad teams and lay an egg against the good teams. The real test is Nevada.
Anon 1:44 that was a battle between number 2 and number 3 in the WAC. Keep looking for reasons to hate, hater. Agree that the big test is against Reno, but I think we are ready for it.
YAWN.... Show me a birth to the NCAA tourney then we can call this a successful season, lest the Aggies take a lesson from the Greenbay Packers this year. Win where it really counts please- in the postseason.
I agree: the team's playing well. This upcoming road-trip will tell a lot about this team. They have a Thursday night game against a Nevada team that came into the Pan Am and shot the lights out. If the Wolfpack shoot the same on Thursday, they'd beat just about anyone. If they shoot their usual percentages, then the Aggies have a real chance of winning one on their court.
What's going to be a very difficult challenge is going in to Fresno nights later after the Nevada game. I watched the Nevada vs. Fresno game last night and I don't think Fresno will take the night off, even if the conference tournament seeds have been solidified.
If the Aggies stay focused, shoot well, and stay out of foul trouble, they can win each game going away.
On a different note, you have to appreciate the consistency of Wendell McKines. His counter-part at UNM, Drew Gordon, has shown us who's the better power-forward in the state and who's really deserving of recognition as one of the best players in the west. Gordon has games where he's simply disappeared and McKines has ALWAYS been a factor. McKines has shown why he's truly the Most Valuable Player to his team and in his league.
S Burgess is a lobo lover.
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