Tag: Western Athletic Conference

New Mexico State is back for a fourth straight year (AP Photo)

Introducing Cinderella: Meet the New Mexico State Aggies

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New Mexico State is back for a fourth straight year (AP Photo)

Conference: Western Athletic

Coach: Marvin Menzies

Record: 23-10 (13-1)

Ratings and rankings:

Kenpom: 89
RPI (per NCAA.com): 108
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: In our most recent bracket the Aggies are projected to be a 13 seed.

Names you need to know: F Remi Barry (13.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg), F Pascal Siakam (13.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg), G Daniel Mullings (12.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.0 spg), C Tshilidzi Nephawe (10.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg)

Stats you need to know: The Aggies have shot the ball well from the field, as they’re making 46.6 percent of their shots and they’re also shooting nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc. New Mexico State doesn’t rely heavily upon the three, scoring just 20.6 percent of their points by way of that shot per kenpom.com. But they get the foul line (23.7 percent of their points come from there), and they’re also a very good offensive rebounding team. They’re one of the best at defending the three, as teams are shooting just over 29 percent from distance.

Tendencies: Menzies’ Aggies are going to look to work the ball inside, and when you have a front court that features the likes of Barry, Nephawe and Siakam that’s a good strategy to use. Barry is also this team’s second-best three-point shooter, with guard Ian Baker leading the team in makes (58) and percentage (47.2 percent). As for the defense NMSU will play man the majority of the time, and in Mullings they’ve got a perimeter defender who would rank 33rd nationally in steals had he played in enough games.

Big wins, bad losses: New Mexico State’s best non-conference win came against UTEP, avenging a loss to the Miners earlier in the season. Outside of that there aren’t any major wins, although it should be noted that the Aggies played Wichita State, Saint Mary’s, Wyoming, Baylor and Colorado State. As for bad losses, Oral Roberts was the worst non-conference defeat (they also lost twice to rival New Mexico) and they lost at Seattle in mid-January.

How’d they get here?: Some of the defeats above came as a result of the Aggies playing a significant stretch without seniors Nephawe and Mullings for injury reasons. Mullings missed 12 games with a broken finger and Nephawe missed 12 games with a deep bone bruise in his foot. While the team struggled without those two (7-5 without Mullings, 6-6 without Nephawe), players such as Barry and Siakam were able to use that as a springboard of sorts. Once everyone was healthy the Aggies ran through the WAC and won games over Bakersfield and Seattle in the WAC tournament.

Outlook: This is a dangerous team, as they have tournament experience and some talented pieces who can make things difficult for opponents on both ends of the floor. As a 13-seed New Mexico State is certainly capable of pulling off an upset.

How do I know you?: New Mexico State has become a fixture in the bracket, as they’re making their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. Last season the Aggies took San Diego State to overtime before losing by four, and in 2010 they lost by three to Michigan State.

WAC Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

Marvin Menzies wants to recreate this scene from last year (AP Photo)
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Marvin Menzies wants to recreate this scene from last year (AP Photo)

The WAC played out as many expected, with preseason favorite New Mexico State winning the league with a 13-1 conference record. Two of the Aggies’ key players, Daniel Mullings and Tshilidzi Nephawe, returned to the rotation in mid-January after missing time due to injury and New Mexico State hasn’t missed a beat. And this is their tournament to lose, as the only other WAC team with an overall winning record (Grand Canyon) isn’t playing since they’re ineligible for postseason play as a provisional Division I member. While there could be some surprises in other areas of the bracket, the biggest would be if the Aggies didn’t win the automatic bid.

READ MORENBC Sports’ latest Bracketology

The Bracket


MORENBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

When: March 12-14

Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

Final: March 14, 11:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Favorite: New Mexico State

The Aggies lost just one conference game, falling 58-52 at Seattle January 17. Since then they’ve won 11 straight games, with Mullings and Nephawe back in the rotation. Nephawe’s injury meant even more time for freshman Pascal Siakam, and boy did he step up. The WAC’s top freshman, Siakam averaged 13.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and senior forward Remi Barry is also averaging 13.2 points per contest. Five players average between 9.5 and 13.2 points per game and a sixth, guard D.K. Eldridge, adds 8.4 ppg.

And if they lose?: Kansas City

Kansas City has the WAC’s best scorer in sophomore Martez Harrison, who averaged 17.4 points to go along with 3.8 assists per game. Kareem Richardson’s team does a good job of forcing turnovers on the other end, as they forced a league-best 16.8 turnovers per game. But if there’s a concern for the Kangaroos, it’s that they allowed conference opponents to post an offensive rebounding percentage of 40 percent. They have to be better in that area in order to make a run in Las Vegas.

Other Contenders:

  • Seattle: Cameron Dollar’s Redhawks are led by the tandem of Isiah Umipig and Jarell Flora, who combine to average nearly 31 points per game. But can anyone else step forward offensively?
  • Bakersfield: Rod Barnes’ Roadrunners dropped two straight to end the regular season, including one against quarterfinal opponent Utah Valley, but they have one of the WAC’s best big men in Aly Ahmed (13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg).

Player of the Year: Martez Harrison, Kansas City

In addition to averaging 17.4 points per game, Harrison also accounted for 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He’s the feature option for Kansas City, which relies on him to create for himself and his teammates. And despite the attention from opposing teams that comes with this, Harrison’s been very productive.

Coach of the Year: Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State

Menzies’ team went 13-1 in conference play, and their 13 wins were by an average of 14.2 points per game. Sure they were expected to win the league, but New Mexico State was flat-out dominant this season.

First Team All-WAC:

  • Harrison
  • Isiah Umipig, Seattle: Averaging 16.7 points per game, Umipig shot 43 percent from beyond the arc.
  • Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State: Mullings averages 12.8 points per game, and he second on the Aggies in both rebounds (5.4) and assists (2.6) per game and he led the team in steals.
  • Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State: Siakam was one reason why New Mexico State was as dominant as they were despite some key injuries, and he posted a double-double in 12 of the Aggies’ 14 league games.
  • Aly Ahmed, Bakersfield: Ahmed’s averaging 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Roadrunners.

CBT Prediction: New Mexico State rolls to another WAC tournament title.

WAC basketball tournament to return to Las Vegas next season

Marvin Menzies
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The Western Athletic Conference announced Friday that its members have decided to return to Las Vegas for next March’s conference tournaments, with both the men’s and women’s events being played at the Orleans Arena from March 11-14. The conference will have eight teams next season, with Idaho moving from the WAC to the Big Sky.

With Idaho leaving the teams remaining are Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, Kansas City, New Mexico State, UTPA and Utah Valley.

The Orleans Arena, which hosts the WCC tournaments the week prior, has hosted the WAC tournament for the last four seasons. The site has been an especially good one for New Mexico State, which has won the last three men’s tournaments.

The WAC men’s tournament was first held in Las Vegas in 2011, with former members Utah State and Boise State playing in the title game.