Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

NM State duels with North Carolina A&T in Sun Bowl Invitational

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What: Game Twelve – WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational
Who: NM State (6-5, 0-0 WAC) vs. North Carolina A&T (5-7, 0-0 CAA)
When: Thursday, Dec 22, 5:30pm MT
Where: El Paso, TX – Don Haskins Center (11,619)

Watch: YouTube Live – Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
Lists: Zia Country 99.5 (PxP – Jack Nixon)
Attend: Online ticket sales
Stats: Click Here
Follow: Twitter – @NMStateMBB, Instagram – @NMStateMBB, Facebook – NM State Men’s Basketball

THE OPENING TIP

• Coming off a loss in the opening round of the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, NM State draws North Carolina A&T in the consolation game in El Paso on Thursday evening.
• Thursday will mark the 27th time that the Aggies go head-to-head in El Paso against an opponent that doesn’t call El Paso home, including the 2020-21 season in which NM State utilized Eastwood High School as its home for four games due to COVID protocols in the state of New Mexico. In total, the Aggies are 15-11 in contests of this kind.

SUN BOWL TOURNAMENT HISTORY

• Wednesday’s tilt against Kent State marked the first time that the Aggies competed in the long-standing Sun Bowl holiday basketball tournament since 1961.
• The Aggies are now 1-2 all-time in the Sun Bowl Invitational, with a 67-54 win over Baylor representing their lone victory.
• Meanwhile, this is North Carolina A&T’s second time playing in the tournament after making its first appearance in 2019. Entering Thursday, the Aggies from NC A&T Aggies are 0-3 in the Sun Bowl Invitational.

AGGIES V AGGIES: PART 73

• Tonight’s matchup against North Carolina A&T will mark the 73rd time that NM State will face off with a fellow “Aggie” program.
• The Aggies from Las Cruces have collided with Aggies from Utah State (67 times), UC Davis (twice), Oklahoma Panhandle (twice) and these same Aggies from North Carolina A&T once. In total, NM State is 35-37 against teams that share its same mascot moniker.
• NM State’s most recent contest against other Aggies came just last season when they took on Utah State.

PASSING AT THE POINT

• Deshawndre Washington and Xavier Pinson have been one of the most prolific backcourts in the country and are currently averaging a combined 9.1 assists per game.
• Washington currently ranks second in the WAC with 4.6 assists per game while Pinson ranks fourth in the conference at 4.5 helpers per game.

HOME IS WHERE WE ARE HAPPIEST

• With four of its six wins coming on Lou Henson Court, the Aggies have been handling business at home.
• The Aggies are currently averaging 92 points per game while opponents are averaging just 52.5 points.
• NM State also favors its home hoops as they are shooting 48.9% from the field inside the Pan American Center compared to its 41.7 average shooting percentage in road games.

THE THREE AMIGOS
• Entering Wednesday, the backcourt trio of Xavier Pinson, Deshawndre Washington and DaJuan Gordon are the only three Aggies to appear in the starting lineup in each of the Aggies’ first 11 games.
• The three guards who all hail from Chicago, Ill., also each average double figures and combine to average 35.6 of the Aggies’ 78.1 points per game.

NEW LEADER, SAME PHILOSOPHY

• Under former head coach Chris Jans, the Aggies were often seen as a defensive-minded team – limiting teams to an average of 63.5 points while scoring 74.1 points per game.
• Although the sample size is minuscule when compared to the 154 games that the Aggies played under Jans, the Aggies are averaging 78.1 points per game with Greg Heiar at the helm while still holding teams to just 65.4 points per game.
• The shooting percentage of Aggie opponents also reflects the strength on the defensive side of the ball as the Aggies currently rank 29th in the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding teams to 38.6 percent from the field.

PREACHING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PERIMETER

• Entering Sunday’s contest, the Aggies are also among the best teams in the nation at defending the three-ball.
• NM State currently ranks 23rd in the country in three-point percentage defense – holding teams to an average of 27.9 percent beyond the arc thus far.

#PROAGIES

• Pascal Siakam is currently the only former Aggie that is on an NBA roster, however, both Trevelin Queen and Jemerrio Jones represent the Aggies in the NBA G League.
• Just yesterday, Siakam posted a career-high 52 points against the New York Knicks to solidify him as one of the best in The Association.
• With that, Siakam became the fourth active player to score 50-plus at Madison Square Garden – joining LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden.
• After being named the NBA G League MVP following a breakout year with the Rio Grande Vipers in 2021-22, Queen signed a two-year with the Philadelphia 76ers through free agency. However, Queen’s stay with the 76ers would be short-lived as he was waived before the season began. Since parting ways with the Sixers, the Baltimore, Md., native signed a two-way deal with the Indiana Pacers.
• Meanwhile, Jemerrio Jones secured his second deal in the G League as he opened the season as a member of the Lakeland Magic (Orlando Magic affiliate). Last season, the former Aggie often referred to as “Super JJ” played 11 games for the Milwaukee Bucks G League affiliate the Wisconsin Herd. With the Herd, Jones averaged 6.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

NM STATE ON THIS DATE

• Across the history of the program, the Aggies have played on the 22nd of December a total of 25 times – boasting an overall record of 16-9.
• Thursday will mark the Aggies’ fourth-ever neutral site game on Dec. 22. In fact, the previous three times that the Aggies have played on this date have been neutral site matchups. In those contests, NM State is 2-1.
• Most notably, the Aggies’ first-ever game in program history came on this date back in 1904 when they hosted New Mexico. Unfortunately, the Lobos got the best of the Aggies in that meeting as NM State fell 21-9.

SCOUTING THE AGGIES

• Kent State will enter Wednesday’s contest with Interim Head Coach Phillip Shumpert at the helm. Shumpert was named the interim on August 18, 2022, after NC A&T abruptly parted ways with former head coach Will Jones after two-and-a-half seasons.
• Last year, North Carolina A&T finished with an overall record of 12-20 with its season coming to a close in the second round of the Big South Championships.
• This season, the Aggies will make their debut in the Colonial Athletic Association after spending three seasons in the Big South.
• After opening the season with a 1-4 record and its lone win coming over Division II Edward Waters, NC A&T rattled off three straight wins to move to 4-4. Since then, the Aggies are 1-3, including a loss at No. 3 Houston.
• As a team, the Golden Flashes are currently one of the top teams in the country at pushing the ball up the court as they rank 48th in the nation in fastbreak points by way of averaging 14.17 points per game.
• Individually, NC A&T is led in scoring by former Northwest Florida State guard Kam Woods who ranks 75th in the nation in scoring at 17.7 points per game. Much of Woods’ scoring comes from beyond the perimeter as he ranks 27th in the country in three-pointers per game.
• Former NM State Aggie Marcus Watson enters the game as NC A&T’s second-leading scorer, posting 13.6 points per game.
• On the glass, Austin Johnson leads the way as he snags 6.5 rebounds per game.
• After its loss to UTEP on Wednesday, NC A&T boasts a neutral site record of 1-3.
• This will mark just the second time that North Carolina A&T and NM State will meet up with the first-ever matchup coming in 2009 when NM State hosted the Aggies and earned a 84-68 victory in the Pan American Center.

++NM State++

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