Aggies Overcome Slow Start, Down Missouri State 71-51

The New Mexico State men's basketball team overcame a sluggish first five minutes to ease past Missouri State 71-51 and improve to 6-6. Sim Bhullar scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting as he also converted 7-of-10 free throw attempts.

Missouri State jumped out to 10-5 lead on the Aggies but the Aggies used a 9-0 run to take a 14-10 lead. The Bears answered the run with a three ball from Michael Simpson to cut the lead to one at 14-13 but the Aggies would get eight points in a two-minute span from freshman Matej Buovac who saw his first action of the season. Buovac buried two threes and converted a layup on an assist from K.C. Ross-Miller to take a 24-19 lead with 6:27 left in the first half. The Bears closed to within one at 24-23 but the Aggies closed the half on a 10-0 run behind a three from Terrel de Rouen, five consecutive points from Sim Bhullar including a monster two-handed dunk, and a bucket from Tyrone Watson. The Aggies took a 34-23 lead into halftime after neither team scored over the final 90 seconds of the half.

The Aggies' lead swelled to 17 through the first two and a half minutes of the second half as the Aggies continued their strong play inside the three point arc hitting 7-of-8 attempts going back to the end of the first half. Missouri State crawled back to within a dozen with 14:05 left in the game but a pair of free throws from Bhullar were followed by a free throw from Banjda Sy and another bucket from Bhullar as the lead grew back to 17 points. Once again Missouri State would cut the lead, this time to 11 points with just over 10 minutes left to play. The lead remained 11 with just under five and a half minutes left to play but the Aggies would take over in the next three minutes as the lead swelled to 19 on back-to-back dunks from Bandja Sy and Sim Bhullar giving the Aggies a 68-49 lead with just under two minutes left.

The Aggies' scoring was capped by a dunk from B.J. West and after a miss from Missouri State the Aggies dribbled out the clock for a 71-51 victory.

Bhullar's 25 points were the most by an Aggie freshman since Daniel Mullings' 28 point against Hawai'i last season and the third most by a freshman in Marvin Menzies' coaching tenure with Jahmar Young's 33 points against Boise State as the standard.

Mullings was the only other Aggie in double-figures finishing with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Tyrone Watson added nine points and Matej Buovac finished with eight, all in the first half.

Anthony Dowling led the Bears with 17 points while Gavin Thurman added 10 but the Aggie defense held Missouri State to just 33.3 percent shooting for the game including 33.3 percent in both halves. New Mexico State shot 54.2 percent from the field for the game including 60 percent in the second half, all inside the three point arc.

The Aggies improve to 6-6 overall and begin WAC play on December 29th as they head to UT Arlington followed by a game against Louisiana Tech on December 31st.