Daniel Mullings has narrowly missed potential game winning shots in losses to Niagara and UTEP — both games the Aggies had late leads. NMSU by 20 in the first half at Niagara and a four-point lead in the last 1:34 on Wednesday, a two point edge with 26 seconds left. The common thread in both games was turnovers.
Perhaps the Aggies biggest weakness was exploited in the first possession of Wednesday’s 55-54 loss at UTEP as the Aggies turned the ball over 20 times leading to 22 points.
The Miners trapped sophomore point guard KC Ross-Miller as soon as he touched it on two of NMSU’s first three possessions for two of Ross-Miller’s five turnovers as the starting point guard.
But to single KCRM out would be unfair. Fellow starters Bandja Sy, Tyrone Watson and Chili Nephawe had four turnovers each. Ross Miller had nine points, two assists and two steals in 28 minutes. Terrel de Rouen had three points, an assist no turnovers in 12 minutes. Both of them had their moments but I wouldn’t say either can be trusted at this point down the stretch of a close game.
A lot of talk about the double dribble on Watson that gave the Miners the ball back with 24 seconds left. It spoiled what was initially a very smart play by Watson. He threw the ball off of Julian Washburn’s back before the Miners could set up their press because neither Sy nor Ross-Miller could get open but UTEP bailed them out with one of their many fouls to give. So Watson got the ball cleanly and raced up court.
“We probably could have managed it a little bit different,” Menzies said. “Maybe we dribble it out and get fouled, get spacing. We had a timeout I believe. Maybe he thought he had numbers and you never want to stop a roll if he’s going to get a lay up.”
Sy had a turnover with 43 seconds left that helped the Miners get to 54-52 with 26 seconds left.
“We lost the game with turnovers. They caused some of them. They are a good defensive team,” Menzies said.
So against the last three Division I teams the Aggies have played, NMSU has averaged 23 turnovers per game, losing two of those games on missed last second shots by Daniel Mullings.