Missouri State (2-9) at New Mexico State (5-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 9 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pan American Center (8,994) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: Aggievision. Home Record: MSU 2-4, NMSU 4-1. Away Record: MSU 0-3, NMSU 1-4. Neutral Record: MSU 0-2, NMSU 0-1. Conference Record: MSU 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri State Bears hope to put an end to a lengthy losing streak tonight when they visit the Pan American Center in Las Cruces to take on the New Mexico State Aggies in non-league play.
Missouri State has lost seven in a row entering the contest, and that includes Tuesday's 59-47 setback at Alabama A&M. That contest began a stretch of four road games in a span of five outings for the Bears, who are winless in all five games played outside of Springfield, Missouri so far this season. Their lone home game in that stretch is against Southern Illinois on Dec. 30.
New Mexico State dropped both ends of a home-and-home series with in-state rival and 16th-ranked New Mexico last week. After losing by 15 in Albuquerque last Saturday, NMSU dropped a 68-63 home contest to the Lobos this past Wednesday. That loss snapped the Aggies' 11-game home winning streak dating back to last season.
The only prior meeting between these two programs took place back in 1950, with Missouri State claiming a 64-54 victory.
Missouri State closed out the first half of Tuesday's contest leading Alabama A&M on the road, 25-24. However, the Bulldogs opened the second half with a 13-2 run and never looked back, as they led by as many as 19 late in regulation. The Bears committed only three turnovers for the game, but they were really hurt on the boards as A&M held a commanding 40-23 rebounding advantage, including a 13-4 difference on the offensive glass. Marcus Marshall was the only double-digit scorer for the Bears, finishing with 16 points on 7- of-11 shooting. MSU has relied heavily on its freshmen players, who scored 36 of the team's 47 points and have accounted for nearly half of the Bears' offensive production this season. With youth comes growing pains, and the Bears have certainly gone through some of that in the early going. Still, they lead the Missouri Valley Conference in 3-point percentage defense (.271) and turnovers for per game (11.1).
Leading the way for NMSU is sophomore guard Daniel Mullings, a 52 percent shooter from the floor who averages 13.9 points to go along with 5.6 rebounds per game. Tyrone Watson is also averaging double figures with 10.7 ppg and 5.7 rpg. Although the Aggies are not a particularly high-scoring squad, they can really hurt opponents on the boards, as evidenced by their +7.8 rebounding margin. Six different Aggies are pulling down at least 4.0 boards per contest. Against New Mexico earlier this week, NMSU knocked down a season-high 10 3- pointers in 17 attempts (.588). However, the Aggies made only 11-of-38 attempts (.289) inside the arc as they watched an 11-point lead slip away. Mullings led the way with 13 points in the loss, followed by Kevin Aronis with a career-best 12 points off the bench, and Watson with 11 points and eight caroms.
NMSU should gain some confidence after nearly pulling off the upset over the nationally-ranked Lobos. Playing at home against a two-win team, they should be able to get back into the win column here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 77, Missouri State 59
12/22 10:40:27 ET