Perhaps the new name of the New Mexico State Aggies should be the ‘Cardiac Kids’. Coming into Wednesday night, the Aggies had won three straight road games. One of the wins came in overtime. Another win came on a last-second buzzer beater. And the third one was a grind-it-out ugly kind of win.
On Wednesday night, the Cardiac Kids kept fans on the edge of their seats once again. Sir’Jabari Rice had 19 second half points and Teddy Allen had 12 second half points to lead the Aggies to a 64-61 come-from-behind win at Washington State. It is the first win over a Power 6 opponent by a WAC school in 2021-22.
And with the win, the Aggies improved to 9-2 overall with two games remaining in the non-conference slate.
Part of the Cardiac Kids’ plan was to get down by as many as 18 points less than three minutes into the second half. Okay, perhaps that wasn’t the plan. Nonetheless, it happened anyway. Noah Williams hit a 3-pointer to put Washington State up 44-26 with 17:51 to play. The Cougars were well on their way to a dominant win after getting beat at home on Saturday.
Problem is, New Mexico State has trailed in nearly every game against a Division I opponent in 2021-22. So, the Aggies know how to play from behind.
And Jabari Rice took over from that moment on. Rice scored the next eight Aggie points to cut the deficit to 12 with 14:27 to play. After a Will McNair Dunk, Rice made it a 9-point game when he hit his second 3-pointer of the second half with 13:14 to play. Rice’s third 3-pointer of the half with 9:07 to play cut the deficit to six. And a 6-0 run cut the deficit to three with 5:27 to play. The Aggies used another 7-0 run led by Teddy Allen who had five points and an assist in the run to give the Cardiac Kids a 60-58 lead with 3:08 remaining.
After a pair of Washington State free throws, Teddy Allen gave the Cardiac Kids the lead for good. Allen threw up a 3-pointer from the right wing that just bounced off the front iron. However, Allen was fouled on the attempt and proceeded to hit all three free throws, giving New Mexico State a 63-60 lead with 1:56 to play.
The final 1:56 was some ugly basketball. The teams were a combined 0-5 from the field. And there were a pair of turnovers. Did I mention there was a 5-second call on an inbounds play? Yep, the Cardiac Kids forced a 5-second call leading 63-61 with 24 seconds to play. And New Mexico State went 1-4 down the stretch from the free throw line. Again the Cardiac Kids gave some life to Washington State with the missed free throws. But, Noah Williams 3-point attempt as time expired clanked off.
New Mexico State now has wins over three KenPom top-100 teams. The Aggies have beat UC Irvine (88), Davidson (62) and now Washington State (46). New Mexico State has a season sweep over rival UTEP and split the season series with bitter rival New Mexico. The only other blemish is an ugly loss to Utah State on a neutral floor. However, the Aggies have a KenPom ranking of 49 so it’s not necessarily a loss that will hurt the Aggies.
Under Chris Jans, the Aggies now have six Power 6 wins during the holiday season.
New Mexico State moved from 11 in the KenPom rankings to 103 with Wednesday night’s win. The Aggies host a pair of non-DI opponents on Saturday and Monday before beginning WAC play at Seattle on Dec. 30.