Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Mexico State is in the house Wednesday night

Coach Marvin Menzies and his band of New Mexico Staters (14-13 overall, 8-4 in the WAC, 2-4 in league away games) arrive at Walt McPherson Court on Wednesday evening.

The Aggies are coming off a surprising 82-80 BrackBuster loss to Northern Colorado and this at home. The Las Cruces Sun-News beat reporter offered this about NC in a post-game blog: "They have seniors and they can shoot the 3 which can help you win games, but they scored 82 points at the Pan Am against a second place team in a better league." Northern Colorado was hot from long distance early but missed all 11 trey attempts in the second half. However, they made up for that by taking to the offensive boards in the second 20 minutes for 11 caroms.

Yes, backcourter Jonathan Gibson has departed and wing Jahmar Young left to open up a string of mini-mart franchises (just joking -- don't fret if you don't get it). Oakland native and former Richmond High star Wendell McKines won't play as he is officially redshirting this season but it will be interesting if he travels anyway because his presence will bring out a number of friends and family.

It's applying a very broad brush stroke but we're calling this matchup the backcourt (SJSU) versus the frontcourt (NMSU) as the strengths of each respective program lies in those areas. However, forward Wil Carter has come on of late for the Spartans and sharpshooting guard Gordo Castillo plus point Hernst Laroche are no slouches as Aggies.

Here's our game report from the earlier Spartan - Aggie matchup in Las Cruces, one minus Adrian Oliver:

Spartans fall 78-53
January 15, 2011

It's a super secret program, appropriate for a state featuring Los Alamos and The Manhattan Project.

Regardless, SpartanHoops has stealthingly uncovered the fact that New Mexico State University engineers have developed an invisible lid for placement on the basketball hoop. The evidence? San Jose State went 0-12 from beyond the arc, shooting 23% in the first half against the Aggies tonight. Furthermore, witnesses have told us that a male in his forties, wearing sunglasses, Crocs, a fedora and a leather overcoat was seen furiously working what looked like a blackberry device whenever the Spartans attempted a shot. We are told a YouTube video will soon be available.

Strictly on the court, the final score was 78-53.

It was this kind of night: Aggie freshman backcourter Christian Kabongo, entering the game shooting 6-42 on treys overall, 1-7 in WAC play, made all three of his long distance attempts.

But SJSU did fight back, closing the margin to 12 midway through the second 20 minutes but a trio of Aggie treys boosted the lead back to 18 and that was that.

Leading 35-18 at the half, it was a case of New Mexico State unable to miss, San Jose State unable to make early on and the Aggies cantered to an early 20-point lead. But it was gradual elongation -- NMSU led 8-6 at the 15:58 mark, 17-9 with 13:33 showing but boosted it to 27-11 and then 33-13.

On the game, San Jose State shot 33% to 48% for New Mexico State. The Aggies went 11-27 on three-pointers to just 2-17 for the Spartans. In rebounding, NMSU won by 11, 42-31.

Troy Gillenwater led the Aggies with 18 points, plus six boards. Backcourter Gordo Castillo totaled 17 and Kabongo 13.

Wil Carter's 14 points and seven rebounds topped the Spartans. Justin Graham added 11.

Spartan leading scorer Adrian Oliver again missed the game with concussion-like symptoms. Coach George Nessman started Brylle Kamen, Carter, Calvin Douglas, Keith Shamburger and Graham.

NMSU's Starting Five (stats are for league play)

One of the two bigs will start at center -- each played 18 minutes against Northern Colorado with Rahman starting.

* 6-11 junior Hamidu Rahman -- 7.2 ppg. (shooting 57%), 4.3 rpg., not real mobile, has missed some games with a calf injury -- should be available but for probably less than 20 minutes


* 6-10 freshman Tshilidzi (Chili) Nephawe -- 6.7 ppg. (shooting 57%), 4.8 rpg., a better shotblocker and shooter

* 6-8 junior Troy Gillenwater -- 21.8 ppg. (shooting 51%) likes and will take the three,, 6.7 rpg., 9/27 assist-to-turnover ratio so the ball ain't coming back often

* 6-5 sophomore Tyrone Watson -- 8.6 ppg. (shooting 61%), 4.7 rpg., not a creator but a blue collar guy

* 6-8 sophomore Bandja Sy -- 4.7 ppg., not shooting all that well, half his shots are threes, is long and can make the spectacular play but needs to work on consistency

* 6-1 junior Hernst Laroche -- 11.6 ppg., 62-38 assist-to-turnover ratio, the Aggie leader on the court

Off The Bench

* 6-4 freshman Christian Kabongo -- 5.3 ppg., 37/24 assist-to-turnover ratio, likes an up-and-down game

* 6-5 senior Gordo Castillo -- 8.0 ppg., easily the best catch-and-shoot distance marksman on the team, 61 of his 75 shots have been three-pointers

* 6-foot-9 freshman Renaldo Dixon -- a young fill-in upfront

* 6-foot-11 B.J. West -- ditto

The Aggie WAC schedule so far

Dec 29 @ Idaho 74 - 69 (W)
Dec 31 @ Boise State 78 - 81 (L)
Jan 08 Fresno State 80 - 68 (W)
Jan 13 Hawai'i 82-64 (W)
Jan 15 San Jose State 78 - 53 (W)
Jan 20 @ Nevada 71 - 90 (L)
Jan 22 @ Utah State 49 - 59 (L)
Jan 27 Boise State 96 - 87 (W) OT
Jan 29 Idaho 73 - 65 (W)
Feb 03 @ Fresno State 83 - 88 (L) OT
Feb 07 Louisiana Tech 75 - 57 (W)
Feb 12 @ Louisiana Tech 50 - 49 (W)
Feb 19 Northern Colorado 82-80 (L)

The New Mexico State roster (by position, alphabetized)

Gordo Castillo G 6-5 190 Sr.
Makhtar Diop G 6-6 195 Jr.
Drew Herig 6-0 183 Fr.
Christian Kabongo G 6-4 199 Fr.
Hernst Laroche G 6-1 170 Jr.

Renaldo Dixon F 6-10 210 Fr.
Troy Gillenwater F 6-8 238 Jr.
Wendell McKines F 6-6 230 Sr. (redshirting)
Bandja Sy F 6-8 214 So.
Tyrone Watson F 6-5 225 So.
B.J. West F 6-11 240 So.

Abdoulaye N'doye C 7-0 215 So.
Tshilidzi Nephawe C 6-10 268 Fr.
Hamidu Rahman C 6-11 245 Jr.

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