The New Mexico State Aggies are playing more like a unified basketball team.
Defensively, they're playing harder this year — they did throughout their 89-73 win over UTEP on Saturday.
Offensively they passed the ball well against the Miners.
There was excitement in the Pan American Center.
And it was another NMSU win in 2011, this one coming over a UTEP team that, frankly, the Aggies should have beaten.
The Miners had a successful strategy in the first 20 minutes of the game — while the Aggies kept them in it to a degree — playing a four-quarters offense and spreading the floor. They were patient, made the extra pass and trailed just 42-38 at intermission.
But the contest turned in the first five minutes of the second half.
NMSU picked up their intensity on the defensive end of the floor, pressured the Miners and turned it into opportunities on offense.
The team went on a 15-4 run coming out of the locker room, and UTEP was forced to come out of their offensive set while playing catchup.
The Aggies got the ball inside and moved it well on the interior — NMSU took 13 3-pointers in the first half, just five in the second — and shot 51 percent from the floor to close out the game.
Teams have a shot at beating the Aggies this year if they can turn them over and break even with them on the backboards. Easier said than done, though.
The Aggies are big and long inside — they outrebounded the smaller Miners 42-27 on Saturday.
Defense and rebounding.
Sounds like a formula a team can win with — whether they're playing at home or away.
So far, the Aggies have an impressive look.
Teddy Feinberg can be reached at (575) 541-5455