The Aggie women's basketball team picked up the first victory of 2012 for the New Mexico State athletic teams defeating Shaw 61-53. The Aggies were up by as many as 21 points in the second half but a late run by Shaw made the game interesting for the final three minutes. Although Shaw never got closer than eight points, the Aggies had four turnovers and seven missed free throws in that span which doesn't help when trying to close out a game.
The Aggies again had way too many turnovers, 28 in total, and a turnover rate of 35.5 percent. The Aggies are a low possession team and as such need to value the basketball a little more than they do. When they're turning the ball over at a 35 percent rate, it adds a lot more pressure to get points on the remaining 65 percent of their possessions. It's something the Aggies have struggled with all season (thus their 53.7 points per game average).
The Aggies are back in action on Wednesday night as they take on Missouri-Kansas City on the road. The Kangaroos force 19.3 turnovers per game and on the offensive end they are a very efficient offense scoring 0.956 points per possession which is 52nd in the country (conversely, the Aggies score 0.773 points per possession on offense which ranks 284th in the country).
The Aggies will need to lean on their defense on Thursday night and hope they can get some shots to fall.
The men's basketball team is back in action tonight as they take on Cal State-Bakersfield. The Roadrunners are a dangerous matchup for the Aggies. CSUB comes into the game with a 7-7 record. They average 68.3 points per game but they are a dangerous, dangerous three point shooting team. They hit 41.7 percent of their three point attempts and get 31.7 percent of their scoring from deep. They are ninth in the country in three point field goal percentage.
We saw the Aggies struggle against the Lobos last week when UNM got out to a huge lead behind the three point shot. Guarding the three has been an issue for the Aggies this season. Early in the season it was switching off ball screens but again the Lobos it was rotating to cover the shooter.
If the Roadrunners come out hot and hit six or seven threes in the first half, it could spell trouble for the Aggies. The Roadrunners are also pretty good from two point distance hitting 48.2 percent of their shots.
The one area that favors the Aggies is the Roadrunners turn the ball over. They average 14.9 turnovers per game which isn't a ton, however, their turnover rate is 22.5 percent so nearly one out of every four possessions ends in a turnover. If the Aggies can force CSUB into a few more turnovers than normal and get out and convert those turnovers into fast break points, the Aggies can potentially neutralize CSUB's three point shooting.
The two players two watch tonight for Bakersfield are Issiah Grayson, a freshman guard who is knocking down a ridiculous 52.6 percent of his three point attempts (20-38). He's a 49.1 percent shooter overall and he averaged 11.8 points per game. He's also the only player for Bakersfield averaging over 30 minutes per game. The other player the Aggies need to be wary of is Adam Young, a 6-8 freshman wing. He's a 48.4 percent three point shooter having hit 15-of-31 attempts. He only averages 12.6 minutes per game but could see more tonight.
The Roadrunners have five different players who can knock down threes which will make identifying the shooters a little bit harder but the Aggies have to do a good job on the three point line defensively.
As far as the Aggies go, it's the first game going forward without sophomore guard Christian Kabongo. The Aggie guard is transferring from New Mexico State leaving the Aggies' with just two guards, Hernst Laroche and Daniel Mullings. His departure also leaves the Aggies with a rotation of just seven players who have seen significant minutes this season, though we would expect that Remi Barry will start to get more playing time and hopefully will begin to contribute more both offensively and defensively.
With Kabongo's 14.6 PPG no longer around, it will be up to Hernst Laroche and Bandja Sy to pick up the scoring slack and the Aggies will also need to get more points from Daniel Mullings, similar to what he did against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
It's especially important for those three to pick up the scoring slack because Kabongo's departure leaves Wendell McKines as the Aggies' biggest point producer and there is no doubt that the rest of the WAC knows that as well and he will be keyed on game in and game out the rest of the way. His absence also hurts from the free throw line as the Aggies now have just two players hitting better than 70 percent of their free throws. That's going to be a major issue in tight games where the Aggies are trying to hold on to a lead. Teams may start fouling much earlier with Hamidu, Tyrone, Banjda Chili and Daniel Mullings all shooting under 67 percent from the free throw stripe (with Hamidu and Tyrone shooting 50 percent or worse).
Tonight's game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. (MT) tipoff and can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network as well as streaming online via Aggie Access (subscription required) or for free via the Bakersfield athletic website.
On to today's links...
Aggie Men's Basketball Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News previews tonight's game.
The Las Cruces Sun-News looks at the questions for NMSU heading into 2012.
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