Friday, March 9, 2012
Aggies look locked in during WAC Tourney win
The New Mexico State Aggies absolutely took apart the Fresno State Bulldogs in the first round of the WAC Tournament on Thursday.
The Aggies played their game, and it started on the defensive end of the floor.
They were outstanding in that area and are clearly feeling it.
They also dominated the boards — out-rebounding Fresno State 46-30 while scoring 24 second-chance points — and got to the free throw line 36 times.
It was impressive.
The Aggies just seem to play like a loose bunch this time of year when, frankly, other teams can tighten up. Again, head coach Marvin Menzies often points to the WAC Tournament as the time he wants his team playing its best ball and they're doing it again. They're clicking right now. It's a fine line for Menzies — while NMSU is playing good ball, one loss could also derail the situation. Still, with that being said, it looks as if things have been clicking for the head coach as well.
Every time Fresno State looked like they were going to make a push, NMSU would push them back.
Whether it was Wendell McKines hitting a big 3 to tick the Aggies lead back to 13 or Daniel Mullings' thunder dunk to keep NMSU's advantage at double-digits, the Aggies kept the Bulldogs at bay.
We've said it before, Mullings is the type of player who — one would hope — could put fans in the seats at the Pan American Center in the years to come. He seems to throw down at least one trademark dunk a game.
As for McKines, he looks like he's on a mission at the moment. Simply put, I don't think he's going to let his team lose at this juncture of the season.
Don't look now, but things are shaping up well for the Aggies.
Prior to them taking the court, No. 6 Hawaii upended No. 3 Idaho.
Such a scenario looks like a good one for the Aggies — while I would have picked them to beat the Vandals, Idaho has also been a thorn in NMSU's side this year and a victory certainly wouldn't have been a sure thing. Meanwhile, NMSU matches up well with Hawaii, a team that looks to get up and down the floor — something the Aggies would prefer to do — and are currently without sharpshooter Zane Johnson who had a career night against NMSU earlier this season.
Unless the Aggies totally overlook the Warriors — thus leaving themselves vulnerable for an upset — I like them in this one.
Meanwhile, Nevada was down 14-13 at HALFTIME to San Jose State before eventually winning 54-44. The reality is that the Wolf Pack could have been eliminated playing that way against anyone but the No. 8-seeded Spartans.
And in the late game Thursday, No. 5 Louisiana Tech — who's actually playing good ball right now — beat No. 4 Utah State. That means the Bulldogs will play the Wolf Pack in the semi bracket opposite NMSU/Hawaii.
Either way, I don't expect Louisiana Tech to be an easy opponent for Nevada — it's a hard game to predict actually.
If the Aggies can hold serve against Hawaii, they would set themselves up for a good performance in the championship game as the hot team in this tournament.
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