Friday, March 16, 2012

Aggies fall to Indiana in NCAA Tournament

(AP photo)

Simply put, the Indiana Hoosiers are the better team.

They outclassed New Mexico State in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night, winning 79-66 in Portland, Ore.

It started on the defensive end of the floor for the Aggies.

Indiana raced out to a 14-4 lead with little trouble.

NMSU somehow couldn't defend on-the-ball screens and, when the Hoosiers did feel a threat, they isolated Cody Zeller and let him go to work. The Aggies also didn't have an answer for IU guard Jordan Hulls.

Defensively, we knew the Aggies needed to have a strong gameplan going into the game and then execute that gameplan. But it just didn't work out that way.

NMSU was lucky to be down just seven, 35-28, at intermission. Still, they were in the game at that point.

But any chance they had at making a second half comeback went away when Indiana put on a layup clinic coming out of the locker room.

I thought the Aggies played pretty well offensively.

NMSU shot 55 percent from the floor, although only got to the line 10 times.

The Hoosiers got to the free-throw stripe just 10 times as well, although shot 59 percent on the evening and hit 7 of 13 3-point attempts.

Indiana ran out to a 14-4 lead right out of the chute and it came relatively easily — not the start the Aggies needed.

They were ready for NMSU and maybe all the pregame talk of the Aggies being a trendy pick had something to do with it. NMSU certainly wasn't going to sneak up on Indiana and before you knew it, it was an eight-point game — really, the Aggies were the ones who needed to get off to a quick start like that.

The lead grew to 21 at one point and the Aggies just aren't built to come back from that. Not against a team like Indiana that looked very good on Thursday and showed their mettle. They were the better team, pure and simple. They're a tough team to defend, and can beat the opposition in a number of ways.

Wendell McKines played a solid game and went out well as an Aggie — he banged on the boards and battled throughout, finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Freshman Daniel Mullings also showcased his skills, forcing a loose ball foul on Zeller on an acrobatic attempt at a rebound and then he threw down an alley-oop dunk from Hernst Laroche in transition. Good to see Mullings show his stuff on a national stage.

The only issue was, their supporting cast didn't play well. Tyrone Watson had seven turnovers and Hamidu Rahman was quiet in the second half.

One thing for the Aggies — they battled until the end and I take that as a positive as the season came to a close and going into next year.

Down 21, they could have easily folded and lost by 30. But they fought back and got the deficit down to 11 late and never quit.

That was one of the lasting images with this team, and the fact they got to the NCAA Tournament this year. That will still be considered a positive in a season where such a turn of events came as a nice culmination, perhaps even a pleasant surpise.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

IU is a good team. Hats off to them.

It's tough to stop a team that has it going from long range and from close in. Plus, the IU bench is longer and pretty capable.

It was a nice year for the Aggies and bodes well for next year. I think we'll see the Aggies again in the tourney in the next two years.

Congrats to IU for the win, they deserved it. Congrats to the Aggies for winning the WAC tourney and making it to the dance for the third time in five years.

Anonymous said...

I never question Watson's effort but he is at best limited offensively and kills us with turnovers. Our bench was never developed this season and it appears we have a ton of talent there.

Teddy said...

I like Watson. Believe he is an underrated player, and does things that do not necessarily show up in the box score but impacts the game. Would have to think he has been one of the top plus/minus players on the team the past two years.

I will say this though: he is best when filling his role and playing within himself, i.e. not hoisting up 18-foot jump shots. The other night he did not have a very good game.

Anonymous said...

Awfully quite in and around Aggie sports.