Once again, the Aggies did what they have to do to win.
That is, dominate five feet and in to the basket, their bread and butter.
When the Aggies win, they're controlling this area of the game — layups, putbacks, getting steals and going the other way.
They outscored Louisiana Tech 46-22 in the paint, 26-8 in the second half.
“That was the emphasis of the whole game,” freshman guard Daniel Mullings said of taking the ball inside. “In the second half we locked in.”
If the Aggies made one shot in the second half over the defense, I can't remember it.
In the official stat book, of the Aggies 16 made shots in the final 20 minutes of play, 13 came from inside the paint.
“We're typically going to be an inside, power-packed team,” NMSU head coach Marvin Menzies said.
It was quite the freshman matchup on Friday between NMSU's Mullings and Louisiana Tech's Raheem Appleby.
Appleby had a GREAT game, scoring 30 points on the evening.
Mullings went on an 8-0 run by himself during a critical fourth-quarter run that saw NMSU take the lead for good.
Once again, his defense is very good — he's very quick and can makeup for being out of position on the defensive end because of that quickness. He had a block and three steals on Saturday night and finished with 15 points, 14 of which came in the second half.
He went with the Aggies theme — of his eight consecutive points scored, all were at or around the hoop.
“Of course,” Mullings said when asked if he took notice of Saturday's freshman matchup. “I knew that coming in. I read the scouting report.”
If Mullings develops a jump shot, look out. He could really be something special.
The Aggies got to the line — this IS what they do.
Coming into the game the Aggies had attempted 743 free throws, which is No. 1 in the NATION. Long Island University is second with 635.
NMSU also led the nation coming into the evening with 498 made.
If they made them on Saturday night, they would have won going away. Hamidu Rahman — who did finish with 20 points — went 6 of 15 from the stripe and the team hit just 12 of 25.
If they made more than 7 of 18 against Fresno State last week, that game wouldn't have been close either. And against UTEP in El Paso — they hit their free throws there, they win.
“That's something I've got to work on. That's one of my weaknesses,” Rahman said. “But we got the W (on Saturday), so it's all right.”
“It's going to be an on-going battle with a couple guys,” Menzies said when asked about the free throws. “I'll take my chances there. If Ham goes 50 percent from the line, it's the same thing as going 50 percent from the field. At the end of the day, he gets fouled, he makes half his free throws. He got six points at the line tonight….the point is, it seems worse than it actually is. When the bigs are the ones getting the shots at the free-throw line, Chili does a very good job at the free throw line — he goes 4 for 4 — when you look at it, they go 10 for 19, which is just a tad over 50 percent….But we have to have a better level of confidence when we step to that line knowing that we can knock them down. We just have to keep shooting them.”
The game was up and down in the first half and it was a good game. Both teams looked focused, and the crowd was into it.
Louisiana Tech went 4 of 14 from 3-point territory in the first half, 8 of 26 for the game.
Every player who entered for the Aggies — eight players total — scored. Rahman had 20 while Wendell McKines and Mullings each had 15. Hernst Laroche and Chili Nephawe each had eight, while Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson had seven apiece. Remi Barry hit a 3-pointer.
Watson had seven points, seven assists and five rebounds.
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