The Washington State Cougars put up more of a fight than expected in Las Cruces, but committed eighteen turnovers in a loss to the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday night, 69-63.
NMSU, ranked 115th on KenPom’s laptop, would probably be the 10th or 11th best team in the Pac-12 this year, so this should give you some preview of what WSU’s “easiest” road trips in conference play will look like.
The Aggies pulled out to a double digit within the first six minutes of the game thanks to some hot shooting from the outside after the Cougars seemed to let every three-pointer go uncontested. New Mexico State made six threes in the first eight minutes
WSU battled back and forced a few turnovers and hit some threes of their own to coincide with the Aggies going ice cold at the flip of a switch to pull within three points at the six-minute mark, before setting for a 33-25 deficit at the half. C.J. Bobbitt led all scorers in the first half, tallying 11 of his 15 points before halftime.
Robert Franks, mostly quiet in the first half, took over in the 2nd, dropping eight points in the first five minutes, leading the Cougs to making up the deficit and tying the game at 38-38. Franks missed two free throws at the thirteen minute mark which apparently meant everyone in the crowd won a free chicken according to the NMSU radio team
Franks picked up his fourth foul at the eleven-minute mark, but the Cougs were able to stave off his absence with threes from Viont’e Daniels and Jervae Robinson, and WSU was able to match the Aggies bucket for bucket upon Frank’s return. New Mexico St only led by one point at the three-minute media timeout. But the first three-pointer of the season for Shunn Buchanan right out of the break put the Aggies up four and they didn’t look back for the remainder of the game. New Mexico shot free throws for the remainder of the game to extend their lead and make the final tally look much less close than the contest actually was.
CJ Elleby led all scorers with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Up next, WSU will head home to battle Idaho for the 274th Battle of the Palouse. The Vandals have won three of the four matchups since hiring Ernie Kent, including last season by 27 points, so revenge will be on everyone’s minds. Idaho is 3-4 so far this season.