Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Aggies begin the WAC game on the right foot with a 78-61 win over the state of Chicago

LAS CRUCES, NM – New year, same result – a victory in the NM state.

A 17-4 run through the first 5:41 of the crucial frame helped NM State shake off a slow start and claim a 78-61 win over Chicago State in the Aggies’ WAC opener Saturday night at the Pan American Center.

At just 30:26 at halftime, the Aggies’ second-half rise made the difference, allowing them to expand their winning streak to seven games as they emerged victorious in their first WAC home game in 667 days.

FIRST HALF
• Johnny McCants scored a three in the Aggies’ first possession, but it was one of only four long balls the home team put in in the first 20-minute game.
• Since their shots weren’t too quick, the Aggies watched Chicago State stay close for most of the half-time. The Cougars managed to take their biggest lead of the game, 16-13, after starting a 7-0 run after a three-pointer from the gloves of Clayton Henry.
• Jahsean Corbett finished that climb with a middle-distance jumper at 8:28 at halftime, before NM State used the free-throw line to regain the lead.
• McCants, Donnie Tillman and Mario McKinney Jr. each shot two charity stripe shots at successive properties, giving NM State a 19-16 lead, 5:35 remaining.
• Brandon Betson scored a series of five Chicago State points in a row that countered the Aggies’ shot on goal from the Foul Stripe. His runner in the paint with 4:59 to go pushed the Cougars with 21:19 in front of the addition of Nate Pryor to the pair almost immediately.
• Seattle, Washington Junior Guard hopped in a difficult floater in lane before ditching Teddy Allen for a long fast-break ball that broke a 21:21 deadlock at 4:03 at halftime.
• Pryor’s game started an 11-3 NM State climb that culminated in a one-handed driving slam dunk by Allen after a touch pass from Pryor. The drop brought the Aggies in the lead 30:24 with 1:28 in the half. Coreyoun Rushin ended the scoring in the first half by converting a put-back layup that reduced the Aggies’ lead 1:19 to 30:26.
• Chicago State stayed within striking distance, shooting 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) out of the field. The Cougars’ defense efforts limited NM State to a shooting clip of 28.6 percent (8 of 28) in the first verse. However, NM State went 10 of 11 off the Foul Stripe in half to help them get into their locker room with the lead.

SECOND HALF
• Each of the first 11 points in the final frame were scored by the home team when the Aggies opened things up with the first 3:20. Allen and Jabari Rice’s three-pointers on consecutive possessions finished the 11-0 run, putting the Aggies ahead to 15, 41:26.
• The hosts’ lead never fell below 15 points in the second half. The Aggies’ lead rose to 27 points, 70-43, after Rice drilled two free throws on the left with 4:29.
• NM State resolved their shooting problems during their halftime session, getting 58.1 percent (18 of 31) of their shots in the last 20 minutes. The result was a 48-35 point lead in the final frame, which allowed the home team to go to victory.
• Newcomer Marchelus Avery scored all 11 of his points in the second half and left the field 5 of 6 after 10:30.
• The state of Chicago only shot 34.3 percent (12 of 35) in the second half thanks to a sweeping defense by the hosts.

NEXT COMES
• The Lone Star State is the target of the Aggies, who take to the streets next week for two WAC engagements. The first thing on this two-game stretch is a visit to Beaumont, Texas for a first showdown with WAC freshman Lamar. Tip-off in the Montagne Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT.

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