Texas-San Antonio (4-8) at New Mexico State (6-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 3, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pan American Center (12,482) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: Aggievision. Home Record: UTSA 1-2, NMSU 5-1. Away Record: UTSA 2-5, NMSU 1-6. Neutral Record: UTSA 1-1, NMSU 0-1. Conference Record: UTSA 0-2, NMSU 0-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: A couple of Western Athletic Conference teams shooting for their first league victories get after each other on Thursday, as the New Mexico State Aggies entertain the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.
NMSU has struggled coming out of the gate with a number of unexpected setbacks and already they are 0-2 in league play. On New Year's Eve, the team bowed to Louisiana Tech on the road by a score of 81-72, marking their fourth loss in the last five outings.
As for the Roadrunners, they won three of their first four games, but since then the team has suffered seven defeats in eight outings. Also in action on Monday, UTSA was beaten down by San Jose State at home in an 80-67 final. The loss was the second in a row for the team, and it is also 0-2 in the WAC for the time being.
The first two meetings between these teams have been evenly split, the most recent of which coming in 2005 with the Aggies capturing a 74-72 victory. Now that they are members of the same conference, they will meet at least once more this season on Feb. 2 in the Lone Star State.
UTSA led by a single point early on against the Spartans, but the hosts ended up shooting just 34.5 percent from the floor in the first half, 39.3 percent for the game, en route to the 13-point loss. Jeromie Hill stepped up with 22 points, Jordan Sims produced a dozen on 4-of-9 shooting behind the 3-point line, while Kannon Burrage and Michael Hall III both tallied 11 points. Burrage leads the team in scoring overall on the season with his 17.6 ppg, but in the two league bouts his average dropped to 12.5 ppg based on 33.3 percent shooting from the floor. Hale III is in a similar situation as he puts up 14.8 ppg in the 10 games in which he has appeared, but in the two WAC outings he is down to only 6.5 ppg. Balancing the scales are Hill (17.0 ppg) and Sims (16.0 ppg) who have been far more productive in WAC games than in totality.
The Aggies dug themselves a serious hole against Louisiana Tech, as the visitors shot just 1-of-12 beyond the arc and 23-of-37 from the foul line in a game that was decided by just nine points. Daniel Mullings was responsible for a game-high 21 points for NMSU, followed by Tyrone Watson and Terrel de Rouen with 14 and 10 points, respectively. New Mexico State was also guilty of 14 turnovers, which the Bulldogs traded in for 21 points. Mullings leads the team in scoring through 14 games with his 14.6 ppg, hitting on an impressive 54.1 percent from the field while also clearing 5.4 rpg. Watson (10.4 ppg) matched Mullings on the glass as both trail Bandja Sy (7.2 ppg) who is pulling down 6.4 rpg but has been dangerous with the ball in his hands otherwise, shooting a miserable 30.9 percent from the field and an inconceivable 8-of-52 (.154) behind the 3-point line.
If the Aggies continue to have their issues at the free-throw line and in the turnover department, opponents like UTSA will believe that they can actually win meetings such as this, so NMSU needs to be careful.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-San Antonio 69, New Mexico State 67
01/03 10:41:17 ET