By Albert Luna
The Aggies defeated the Mississippi Valley State University Delta Devils, 85-46, Saturday night in the Pan American Center.
The Aggies came into the contest fresh off their Wednesday night victory against Tennessee Tech. This game also served as the second game out of four for the Aggies in the Air Force Classic.
The Delta Devils came into the contest with a 0-2 mark after losing to Air Force in Colorado just two nights earlier.
The Aggies led wire to wire the entire game. The contest started off with Pascal Siakam cracking open the scoring with an alley-oop layup off a feed from Ian Baker. Baker then came down after a Mississippi Valley score and knocked down a three-pointer. The opening period was dominated by the overall passing of the team.
In particular, Braxton Huggins was terrific on the floor, leading the Aggies to a fast start with two straight triples from deep. Huggins attributed his strong first half play to the fact he has other threats around him on the floor.
“You have someone like Pascal who is drawing double teams and he just has to kick to me and I am open,” Huggins says.
Huggins ended the game with 12 points on 4-7 shooting. NMSU found itself up 22-13 at the 12:34 mark of the second half, after the first media timeout. The Aggies then went on a 13-2 run, which featured a couple of more threes for the Aggies to blow the game wide open at 35-15.
Although the Delta Devils found their groove ever so slightly, NMSU took advantage of some poor close-up shots by Mississippi Valley State and turned them into easy transition points, with guards Rashawn Browne and Huggins getting some easy points quickly.
The rest of the half followed a similar tone as the Aggies shot more than 50 percent of the entire half from three-point land in pursuit of a sizeable halftime lead (49-26).
Siakam nearly collected his third double-double of the season by earning 11 points and nine boards at the half. The Aggies headed into the half looking to put away the Delta Devils early to start the second half. The Aggies certainly did not fail to disappoint.
Siakam garnered his double-double within a minute of the second half of play. The Aggies also enjoyed another double-double from Eli Chuha, who, just a few games into his college career, looks very promising. Chuha, who finished with 15 points and 10 boards on the night, attributes his growth to the mentorship of Siakam.
“Pascal has just been my teacher in the post and he is great to learn off of,” Chuha says.
Valley put on a full-court press, which to their credit aided them with NMSU having two straight turnovers. However, NMSU just seemed better the entire game and that was only echoed more and more as the game went on.
Siakam’s night ended after just 26 minutes, with NMSU up 28 points at the time. Both teams emptied their benches with five minutes to go. The Aggies got some nice contributions from all around, with every player for the Aggies registering in the scoring book. NMSU ended the game 85-46 as they improved to 3-1 on the season. They also held the Delta Devils to 26 percent shooting from the floor.
“Our goal was to hold them under 50 tonight and we did that well, obviously,” says Head Coach Marvin Menzies.
Looking ahead, the Aggies will welcome Robert Morris on Tuesday night. RBU is a tournament team from a year ago and Menzies says his team is excited to play them.
“I think this will be a good learning experience for our young guys to get ready for the regular season,” the coach says.
The game will be the last in what was a five-game home stand to start the season.
Tipoff on Tuesday night is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Albert Luna may be reached at ALuna32@NMSU.edu
Make sure to follow NMSU Round Up sports on Twitter: @RoundUp_Sports