Pegged as the overwhelming favorites to win the WAC, New Mexico State has two areas of strength: the versatility of junior guard Daniel Mullings, and their size in the front court. Tuesday morning against former conference rival Hawaii, the Aggies were able to take advantage of both on their way to a 95-88 victory in Honolulu.
Mullings led five Aggies in double figures with 21 points to go along with five assists, and each of those New Mexico State players in double figures tallied at least 15 points. NMSU made 63.2% of their two-point shots, and that combined with their 41-27 edge on the boards allowed the Aggies to win despite turning the ball over 18 times. By comparison Hawaii shot 46% inside of the arc, failing to take advantage of the fact that they attempted 18 more field goals than the Aggies.
Ultimately those factors were enough to push New Mexico State to 2-1 on the season, with both teams suffering some mental lapses they have to clean up as the season wears on. Five technical fouls were called, two on NMSU and three on Hawaii, with Hawaii starting point guard Keith Shamburger being ejected after picking up his second with 7:50 remaining. But for New Mexico State they can point to the offensive balance as an important positive to take out of Tuesday’s result.
Mullings will lead the way on most nights, and in 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar (15 points, ten rebounds) they have a matchup few teams can account for. But if New Mexico State is to not only win the WAC but also entertain thoughts of pulling an NCAA tournament upset, they’ll need consistent production from DK Eldridge (15 points, seven rebounds) and Remi Barry (18 points and six rebounds off the bench). Add in a more aggressive K.C. Ross-Miller (17 points after attempting a total of three shots in NMSU’s first two games), and the Aggies were able to end their trip to the islands on a high note.