Aggies capitalize at the line

SHOOTOUT: New Mexico State hits 35 free throws to tie record in 78-49 win over Central Michigan.

Anchorage Daily NewsNovember 24, 2011 

New Mexico State is a big, athletic and experienced team whose high-flying brand of basketball at times breathed life into a sparsely populated Sullivan Arena during a 78-49 romp over Central Michigan in a first-round Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout game.

Among the undefeated Aggies' weapons in one not likely to electrify crowds but certain to generate points and victories -- free-throw shooting.

New Mexico State tied a tournament record by sinking 35 free throws, continuing a trend that has helped the Aggies to a 4-0 start this season. In four games, almost one-third of the team's points -- including nearly half of Thursday's total -- have come from the foul line (110 of 318).

Coach Marvin Menzies, who said Thursday's 49 attempts was a season high, said it's no mystery why the Aggies spend so much time at the foul line.

"We're really physical and we just get to the glass," he said. "We talk about it a lot in practice, penetrating, finding the open person and getting our bigs involved."

Playing in front of a crowd of maybe 1,000, three of those bigs -- 6-foot-6 senior Wendell McKines, 6-11 senior Hamidu Rahman and 6-8 junior Sy Bandja -- did big things for New Mexico State. McKines registered his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds; Rahman had nine points and nine rebounds and Bandja scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds.

They helped New Mexico State to a 54-35 advantage on the boards and contributed to a pressure defense that forced many of Central Michigan's 21 turnovers. Fourteen of those turnovers came in the first half and helped the Aggies hold the Chippewas to 18 points in the first 20 minutes.

"We ran into a buzzsaw tonight," Central Michigan coach Ernie Zeigler said. "They were relentless with their defensive pressure, their physicality and their athleticism."

Defense is a team effort for the Aggies, who had 10 players post double-figure minutes.

"Kids have a tendency to learn what you emphasize, and we emphasize defense a lot," Menzies said.

He joked that maybe his players should spend more time practicing free throws -- the Aggies were hitting foul shots at a 63.6 percent clip coming into the game (75 of 118) -- but they were better than usual against Central Michigan. Behind Christian Kabongo's 8-of-8 performance at the foul line, the Aggies hit 71.4 percent to tie the single-game tournament record for free-throws made (UAA hit 35 in a 1978 game and Saint Mary's did the same in 1998).

Freshman Austin McBroom's 14 points and sophomore Trey Zeigler's 12 points led the Chippewas (3-2), who struggled against the Aggies defense all night.

"We're not ready for this kind of pressure and toughness," said Ernie Zeigler, who starts two sophomores and one freshman.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (49) -- Coimbra 1-4 1-2 3, Mbaigoto 1-4 0-1 2, Zeigler 6-12 0-5 12, McBroom 5-9 3-4 14, Jackson 3-8 2-2 9, Myrick 0-1 0-0 0, Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Craddock 2-7 1-1 5, Keel 0-4 2-2 2, Morris 0-1 0-0 0, Harden 1-2 0-0 2, Saylor 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 19-56 9-17 49.

NEW MEXICO STATE (78) -- McKines 3-8 6-10 13, Watson 1-7 1-2 3, Rahman 2-4 5-8 9, Kabongo 2-5 8-8 12, Laroche 2-7 3-4 8, Sy 7-15 0-1 15, de Rouen 1-4 2-2 4, Nephawe 0-5 3-4 3, Mullings 1-4 3-4 5, Dixon 1-3 4-6 6. Totals 20-62 35-49 78.

Central Michigan 18 31 -- 49

New Mexico State 34 44 -- 78

3-point goals -- Central Michigan 2-10 (Coimbra 0-1, Mbaigoto 0-1, McBroom 1-1, Jackson 1-3, Craddock 0-1, Keel 0-2, Morris 0-1), NMSU 3-13 (McKines 1-1, Kabongo 0-3, Laroche 1-4, Sy 1-3, deRouen 0-1, Dixon 0-1). Rebounds -- Central Michigan 35 (Coimbra 7), NMSU 54 (McKines 12). Total fouls -- Central Michigan 30, NMSU 17. Fouled out -- Mbaigoto, Harden. Assists -- Cental Michigan 10 (McBroom 5), NMSU 13 (Laroche 4). Turnovers -- Central Michigan 21 (Zeigler 6), NMSU 12 (3 with 3). Steals -- Central Michigan 7 (McBroom 2), NMSU 12 (2 with 3). Blocked shots -- Central Michigan 2, NMSU 3 (Dixon 2). Officials -- Chelette, McClelland, Lujan.

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