Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Breaking down the game: Aggies vs. Hoosiers
We take a look at the Aggies vs. Hoosiers game at a glance:
1) A decent matchup: When considering New Mexico State is seeded 13th in the South Region, and Indiana is seeded fourth, the Aggies could have done worse in terms of their draw. While Indiana does hail from the Big Ten Conference, they haven’t always looked impressive, hold an ordinary 7-7 record on the road, and are without injured guard Verdell Jones. Meanwhile, NMSU is 12-6 away from the Pan American Center this season, and outweigh the Hoosiers in key statistical categories such as points per game (78.5 to 77.3), rebounds per game (40.3 to 34.9) and free throws attempted (a whopping 1,048 to 820). Alas, the WAC is certainly no Big Ten and the Hoosiers are a prolific 3-point shooting team — their 43.3 percent marksmanship from beyond the arc ranks No. 2 in the country. Still, on paper, this looks like a winnable game for the Aggies.
2) Defense, defense, defense: The Aggies have been hanging their hat on the defensive end of the floor the past month, culminating last week in their WAC Tournament championship. It’s the old adage — defense and rebounding travels well, and the Aggies have been locked in on that side of the floor. They will need to be once again vs. the Hoosiers — particularly when guarding the 3-point line — if they want to have a shot at victory.
3) The X-factors: Lets look at two Aggie players — Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson — and break down their importance from an offensive standpoint. In the case of Sy, it would be nice if the Aggies got him going — perhaps some early layups, or a 3-pointer from deep. Typically speaking, when Sy’s shooting it well, the Aggies can be tough to defend. In the case of Watson, he’s been a steady player, and NMSU needs his presence once again. He has the unique ability to penetrate a zone defense, and is a good passer from the small forward position. The Aggies need these two players on top of their game on the offensive end of the floor.
4) Mindset: For all intents and purposes, this is an interesting matchup. Again, the Aggies look to control the game five-feet and in towards the basket, while the Hoosiers can flat-out shoot, and have skilled 7-foot freshman Cody Zeller at their disposal. Many prognosticators — namely some ESPN personalities — have been calling for an Aggie upset. Such talk can be a blessing or a curse, although NMSU won’t be sneaking up on anyone either. The Aggies actually hold an edge on experience — seniors Wendell McKines, Hernst Laroche and Hamidu Rahman have all played in a close NCAA Tournament game — and the team shouldn’t have much to lose playing as a 13 seed. NMSU has a history of playing loose in tournament games under head coach Marvin Menzies, and a good start in this one could serve them well.
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