The Aggies beating Boise State was a positive on a number of fronts.
First off, the win in general is big because it gives you a sense of progress. Nobody wanted to go to the WAC Tourney and be one and done. Boise State beat NMSU twice this year, but the general consensus on the blog going into the tourney was that it seemed like a decent matchup for the Aggies. NMSU played them tough in Idaho this year. The game in Cruces wasn't good, but that was ancient history by the time tipoff rolled around in Reno. It's tough to beat a team three times in a season and it didn't seem like Boise was that much better than NMSU this year anyway. All those factors added up, and it seemed like one the Aggies could get. And they did.
Hernst Laroche had a very strong game. That was the most aggressive I'd seen him this year. It seemed like Boise dared him to shoot the ball. And he made them pay.
I thought defensively, the Aggies remembered the last game between both teams and wanted to prove a point.
Jahmar was in foul trouble but still put in 16.
Jonathan Gibson had a good second half. He's key to this team's performance. When he's playing well, people feed off his energy. 22 points for him including the dagger three that put them up nine with two minutes left.
Utah State will be an entirely different deal. But the UtAgs are beatable. The one concern is that I don't think NMSU matches up well with the northern Aggies. Utah State is big and skilled down low. NMSU will have its hands full with Wilkinson. They will have to badger him and match him physically. NMSU has the size but they have to bang him around some. They have to stand up and fight him tooth and nail.
The Aggies will also need another strong night from their guards - Young, Laroche and Gibson. Laroche and Gibson are huge. Jahmar is going to keep gunning no matter what and they will eventually start dropping. At the very least, Hernst will be a distributor and steady presence. Jonathan can either win or lose you a game. It's been a theme throughout the year. Maybe the WAC spotlight is what he needs. But they have to have him pumping in shots and playing quick on the defensive end. If the three guards can do what they did against Boise - 16, 16 and 22 points apiece - I think NMSU can stay in it.
This would still be a big upset. Utah State is more seasoned and the No. 1 seed for a reason. NMSU needs to get off to a good start and knock down some long range bombs early. They need to get a jumpstart in confidence right off the bat.