Dominance
Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

A Decade of Dominance for New Mexico State Men’s Basketball

For the past decade, the king of the WAC has resided in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The word dominance comes to mind when referring to the New Mexico State men’s basketball team over the past decade. At least in terms of conference championships and trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Since the 2011-12 season, New Mexico State has won eight WAC tournament championships. And in that span, the Aggies have played in every WAC title game that has been held. The lone season the Aggies did not play for a WAC title was in 2019-20. Covid made sure no conference tourney was going to take place.

Dedrick Basile’s prayer at the buzzer in the 2016 WAC Tournament ended New Mexico State’s hopes of winning its fifth straight WAC tournament.

And then, in the 2021 WAC Tourney, Grand Canyon ran past the Aggies who had dealt with a ton of adversity due to COVID.

Along with the WAC tourney titles, New Mexico State has won six regular season crowns since 2011-12. All six of those regular season crowns have come since 2013-14. Utah Valley (2), GCU, and CSU Bakersfield each have a regular season crown under their belts. And then in 2021-22, NMSU shared the regular season crown with Seattle U and Stephen F. Austin.

During this run, New Mexico State has had numerous WAC Player of the Year award winners. Pascal Siakam won the award in 2016 while also earning Honorable Mention All-American honors. Ian Baker won WAC Player of the Year in 2016-17. Jemerrio Jones won the award in 2017-28.

In fact, Siakam, Baker and Jones made it back-to-back-to-back for the Aggies in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Daniel Mullings also won the award in 2014. And most recently, Teddy Allen won WAC Player of the Year honors in 2022.

Along with the success of the players, and perhaps because of it, Aggie coaches have won four Coach of the Year awards. Marvin Menzies won in 2015. And the recently departed Chris Jans won in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team averages close to 25 wins per season since 2011-12. And in 2018-19, the Aggies set a program record for wins by going 30-5. How many others have shown that kind of dominance over a 10-year span?

In recent years, outside of the crazy 2020-21 season, the Aggies won 25-plus games every year under Chris Jans.

In five years at New Mexico State, Jans won 110 games. And just for argument sake, since the 2016-17 season, the Aggies have not lost more than 8 games in a season.

Pan Am Dominance

Perhaps the best stat to show the dominance is the home record in conference play since 2011-12. There have only been three conference opponents to go into the Pan Am Center and come out victorious.

On Jan. 26, 2012, Nevada came away with a 68-60 win over the Aggies. And on Jan. 23, 2017, Utah Valley guards Brandon Randolph and Kenneth Ogbe made sure the Wolverines left the Pan Am Center with an 82-74 win. Then, on March 2, 2022, with a share of the WAC regular season crown on the line, SFA shocked the Aggies with a 73-71 win.

Simply put, the Aggies have been dominant during conference play in the Pan Am Center. Just to confirm this statement, the Aggies are 134-16 overall at home since 2011-12. And in conference play, 75-3 at the Pan Am in that same time. That means in conference play, New Mexico State has won 96 percent of its home games.

“It’s been remarkable,” New Mexico State play-by-play announcer Adam Young said. “We were talking about it all last year, up until the Stephen F. Austin loss. I mean, the record was ridiculous. You only lose two games over the course of 10 years in league play at home. Pretty special.”

Young continued.

“I think the fans have a big part in that, as well. It’s a tough place to place and it’s a tough place to travel to. And it’s been a consistent winner. This has been one of the best overall stretches, consistent year-to-year, numbers-wise in the history of the program.”

Three losses. In 78 games. That is dominance at its finest. And even when things look bleak, some Pan Am magic happens. For instance, just look at the 2020 contest against GCU. The Lopes had a shot to knock off the Aggies but couldn’t hit a free throw down the stretch. Even still, GCU led 75-74 with three seconds to play. Enter Aggie legend Johnny McCants.

And then in that same year, with Utah Valley leading 82-81, more Pan Am magic happens. Jabari Rice’s said the bank was open as he hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Aggies an 84-82 win over the Wolverines.

Now, under a new head coach, and a relatively new roster, can the Pan Am dominance continue? First year head coach Greg Heiar is sure looking forward to it as he knows the pride Aggie fans take in their basketball team.

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