So....Thursday's Aggie basketball game vs. Nevada.
Lets go back, down the stretch of the game, under 2 minutes remaining.
Troy Gillenwater gets fouled and knocks down both free throws. NMSU up 64-61, 2 minutes remaining.
Nevada misses a shot, McKines is fouled, 1/2 from the line. 65-61, 1:32 left. If I were an Aggie fan, I'd be feeling a bit more secure. The team withstood the Wolf Pack's rally and was back up by four. It's a two possession game. It feels OK. Better than being tied, or worse, down.
Babbitt hits a three but LaRoche sinks two more free throws. 67-64 Aggies, under a minute left.
Nevada misses at the other end. Babbitt grabs an offensive rebound and is fouled. He hits the first, misses the second. Nevada gets another offensive rebound. Nevada misses again, but Wolf Pack forward Malik Cook tips the ball back up and into the cylinder. Another offensive rebound. Tied game. Overtime.
No need to get into the extra frame. The game was lost during the prior 2-minute sequence above.
Honestly, the Aggies would have easily won the game if they rebounded better throughtout the entire second half. They don't rebound the ball at all! I counted in the second half. It was a loose count, could be off by a point or two but, in my estimation, NMSU gave up 15 second-chance points in the final 16 minutes of the game. They gave up three offensive rebounds off of missed free throws. That's bad. You gotta grab the ball, particularly when your given position on the block because of free throws.
Rebounding is about heart and desire. Nothing more. Sure, height helps. The Aggies have decent size. Troy Gillenwater played a good game on the offensive end. But he only had two rebounds. You need more in a game like that.
Can't blame fundamentals. The rebounding problem should have been worked on well before the third game of conference play. It should have been pounded home on the practice court.
Nevada wanted the ball more in the second half and was the tougher team. Why did the Wolf Pack win? See rebounding and interior defense. That was the difference.
I think Wendell McKines is a great player.
But if I were coaching him, I would not let him play more than five feet away from the hoop.
Sure, I know, his jump shot has gotten better in the last year. If I were his opponent, I would gladly let him shoot from 10 to 15 feet than have to deal with him around the hoop.
The kid is a handful. He should be playing around the basket at all times.
It seemed to me that Nevada got away with two walks in the second half.
The first was a basket and the foul by Joey Shaw that cut the NMSU lead to 51-50. It was a big play and Shaw howled after the bucket. But he walked. He caught the ball, took a step, did a jump step, and went in for the layin. It looked like a walk to me.
The second was an Armon Johnson bucket that gave Nevada a 61-60 lead. Johnson was in traffic and looked like he took steps. No call.
On the flip side of the coin, the Aggies had the ball go in when it ricocheted off a hand/arm/body part during an attempted pass. I guess things even out.
I said that a split during this homestand was fine. Nevada and Utah State are two solid programs. The Aggies have come out and have said a handful of times, at least it seems, that this is a rebuilding year of sorts.
Two road wins early. Come home to face two upper-echelon teams. Split the homestand. So a win against Utah State would work with that approach. Here's the only problem.
NMSU should have won Thursday. It was the Aggies' game. They could have gotten greedy here on Saturday against the UtAgs. Now, I think they have to win. There's pressure there.
No loss feels good. But to let one like Nevada slip away hurts a little more. It was NMSU's game at the end.