Tiny Dancers: New Mexico State

New Mexico State is headed back to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. (USATSI)
New Mexico State is headed back to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. (USATSI)

New Mexico State didn’t enter the WAC tournament as the favorite or even the next in line. Louisiana Tech was undefeated in the league until the final week of the season, while Denver was playing some of the best basketball in the region.

With both teams getting bounced in the quarterfinals, though, the tournament became the Aggies’ to lose. And they didn’t disappoint, knocking off Texas-Arlington in the title game 64-55. Three players scored in double-figures, led by 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar’s 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks.

New Mexico State does have talent on the roster, and the Aggies will look to do better than they did in last year’s NCAA tournament -- when they lost to Indiana in the first round by 13. Bhullar gives them size down low, and Bandja Sy is another solid inside player. Daniel Mullings is a go-to guy on the perimeter, too. The Aggies’ ability to score in the lane and get to the free-throw line is solid.

Player to know: Daniel Mullings. The Canada native had some slow stretches during conference play, but the Aggies’ leading scorer seems to have snapped out of it. He had 16 points, six rebounds and three assists in the championship game and also scored 23 points twice in his final five games. Defensively, he gets steals at a high rate.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 24-10 overall, 14-4 in WAC
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2012
  • Jerry Palm predicts: 13
  • KenPom ranking: 80
  • Sagarin ranking: 83
  • RPI: 57
  • Best wins: Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech
  • Worst losses: Oregon State, Niagara
  • Notable stat: New Mexico State’s edge in the personal foul battle could be something to watch. The Aggies ranked in the top 20 nationally in fewest fouls committed per game, despite ranking in the top 15 in blocked shots. Meanwhile, New Mexico State is No. 3 in the nation in free-throw rate, and they get almost a quarter of their points off free throws.

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