New Mexico State has not played well the past month, I would say. The Aggies have survived for the most part. The WAC has decent players in the league, but from a depth standpoint, I've been surprised at how teams have been able to hang around against New Mexico State.
Tonight's game is not for first place, but if the Aggies lose, they likely won't win a league title, which is something everyone, especially myself, had as a forgone conclusion.
To their credit, NMSU has typically been able to get up for these types of games. Aggies cut the two game deficit in half, 72-64
Fast start: NMSU allowed Bakersfield to hang around in the first half and it nearly cost them. UVU is a balanced team with five scorers in double figures and a good coach. It won't be easy to pull away, but at home, the Aggies need to re-assert themselves as the best team in the conference. Now with their full compliment of players, NMSU needs to start getting back into a groove.
Transition: Utah Valley is a team along the lines of Utah State or Denver in terms of tempo. NMSU struggles in halfcourt offense we all know and Utah Valley leads the WAC in defensive field goal percentage at 37 percent. I think one of the under rated aspects of Sim Bhullar's absence was how he is able to spark the fast break. To do that, NMSU has to rebound. The Aggies allowed 14 offensive rebounds against Bakersfield and they were out rebounded by one. A half court game doesn't favor the Aggies.
Perimeter defense: All five players on the court can shoot for Utah Valley. 6-9 senior forward Ben Aird shoots 39 percent from 3 point range. (He's also their tallest player with 8 RPG so NMSU should make him play defense). But their best players are their guards with coaches son Holton Hunsaker (12.2 ppg, 4.2 APG) and Keawe Enos (50 percent 3 point shooter) NMSU has struggled with guard play lateley and NMSU has never been great at defending pick and pop type players .If the Aggies move to zone, they certainly have to do a better job finding shooters than they did Thursday.
Mullings and Eldridge get so many more better looks at the rim when Sim is on the floor. The big man changes everything in the WAC. For those who commented that the Aggies are somehow better without him, well thats just silly. Plus he looks more determined and agile since the 3 week break.
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