New Mexico 61

(4-2, 0-2 away)

New Mexico St 67

(2-3, 2-2 home)

    10:05 PM ET, December 3, 2005

    Pan American Center, Las Cruces, New Mexico

    1 2 T
    UNM 27 3461
    NMSU 32 3567

    Top Performers

    New Mexico: M. Walters 18 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

    New Mexico State: T. Nelson 21 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    New Mexico State 67, New Mexico 61

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -- Reggie Theus isn't usually a man of few words, but he needed just one to sum up his first Division I coaching win.

    "Wow," Theus said after New Mexico State beat New Mexico 67-61 Saturday night.

    Tyrone Nelson's double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds and New Mexico State's best free throw shooting of the season gave Theus his first win over a major college opponent.

    Theus, who spent the last two years as an assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville, was hired by New Mexico State in March after the Aggies went 6-24 last year, their worst record in 39 years.

    Theus had promised a quick fix but before Saturday the Aggies (2-3) had beaten only Division II member Western New Mexico, with losses to UCLA, Sam Houston State and UTEP.

    The win over New Mexico (4-2) gave Theus a chance to revert to the theme he brought to Las Cruces.

    "Things are changing," he said. "This staff, this school, this city, we believe the days of being the third wheel are over."

    New Mexico State squandered a 13-point first half lead but held on for the win by scoring 15 of its last 17 points from the free-throw line. The Aggies had just one field goal over the final 6½ minutes, but it didn't matter the way they shot free throws.

    Nelson hit 11 of 13 free throws, including two with 20.2 seconds left that sealed the win.

    New Mexico State, which came into the game hitting a mediocre 58.6 percent from the line, hit 30 of 36 against New Mexico. Last week the Aggies hit just 17 of 30 in a 64-55 loss to UTEP and were 14-of-24 in an 83-70 season-opening loss to UCLA.

    "I knew we were a better shooting team than that," Theus said. "Tonight we shot free throws the way we should. If we'd shot free throws like that, we'd have a couple more wins under our belt."

    New Mexico trailed 32-19 with 2:20 left in the first half, but scored the final eight points, the last three on a 3-pointer by Jeff Hart with a second remaining. The Lobos' rally continued through the first five minutes of the second half behind eight straight points from Mark Walters, who led the Lobos with 18 points.

    "Jeff hit that 3 and we were down by five," Walters said. "We felt we had taken their best punch and we were only down by five."

    But New Mexico struggled to get into an offensive flow all night and hit a season-low 33.9 percent of its shots.

    "We weren't executing at all, they were working harder than us," Walters said. "They crashed the glass and got rebounds at critical points in the game."

    Walters scored New Mexico's first eight points of the second half, including back-to-back 3s that cut New Mexico State's lead to 36-35 with 15:57 left. Moments later a field goal by Kris Collins gave the Lobos a 40-38 lead. There were seven ties before the Aggies took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by David Fisher with 3:52 remaining.

    NMSU got its last field goal -- a baseline jumper by Fisher -- with 6:30 remaining, but the Aggies repeatedly hit free throws down the stretch. New Mexico hurt its chances by missing three of four free throws in the final 1:09. That, coupled with a late turnover by center David Chiotti, an airball 3-point shot by Hart and a missed layup by Tony Danridge contributed to the New Mexico loss.

    Chiotti, averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds, had 9 rebounds but just 7 points as the Aggies' defense limited him to just five shots.

    Theus' decision to bring Nelson back into the game with 2.2 seconds left in the first half seemed to contribute to the Lobos' rally. Nelson, who scored 13 points in the first half, promptly picked up his third foul on a charging call. That led to Hart's 3 and a momentum shift to New Mexico heading into the second half.

    Elijah Ingram added 17 points, including 3 3-pointers, for NMSU. Tony Danridge scored 12 for New Mexico.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 61 67
    FG Made-Attempted 19-56 (.339) 16-41 (.390)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-26 (.269) 5-14 (.357)
    FT Made-Attempted 16-27 (.593) 30-36 (.833)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 2 10

    2005-06 Season

    » Dec 3, 2005 @NMSU 67, UNM 61Recap
    Dec 13, 2005 @UNM 71, NMSU 68Recap