New Mexico State men’s basketball senior Jemerrio Jones made another huge play down the stretch, this time a game-winner with eight seconds left to play on a put-back to give NM State the 69-68 victory over Davidson in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic opener Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Down seven with 7:14 left to play, the Aggies (10-2) clawed their way back and found a way to win thanks to gritty play by Keyon Jones, Eli Chuha and J. Jones. The three combined to score 12 of the last 16 points for NM State in the same time frame.
“I am proud of our group of young men,” Aggie head coach Chris Jans said. “They have become somewhat of the cardiac kids where the last 3 games on the road we have won, we have come from behind."
The Davidson (4-5) 3-point threat came at NM State early in the first half, but the Aggies were able to weather the storm after the first media timeout and trailed just 8-6. New Mexico State came out of break with a 10-3 run thanks to four-straight buckets – including a pair of 3-pointers for the 16-11 lead with 11:04 left on the clock.
Another stellar series by the Aggies after the third media timeout had them leading Davidson 26-17 before the Wildcats closed within 30-27 of NM State. But, a late 3-pointer from K. Jones followed by a breakaway lay-in by AJ Harris at the buzzer gave NM State the 35-27 advantage.
The Aggies had a very balanced attack in the first half, with six players registering at least two field-goals while leading the Wildcats 16-6 in the paint. The Aggies were also able to convert 10 Davidson turnovers for 11 points, while turning their four offensive boards into seven points to the Wildcats’ zero.
After opening the second-half with back-to-back buckets from Johnathon Wilkins and J. Jones, a 6-0 run and 12-2 run by Davidson closed within 47-45 of New Mexico State – forcing an Aggie timeout with 12:48 left to play.
Harris came out of the break with a nice bucket in the paint, giving the Aggie a small 49-45 lead with 12:27 remaining. However, an offensive drought by NM State coupled with a hot run by Davidson saw New Mexico State trail the Wildcats 56-49 thanks to a 23-4 run before NM State battled back for the win.
Chuha and K. Jones each had 13 points on the night to lead the team while Harris added 12. Zach Lofton chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds to go with two assists and two steals as well.
BY THE NUMBERS
Friday’s 14 offensive boards was the seventh time NM State reached the double-digit mark in that category this season…the Aggies were able to convert those offensive boards for 14 second-chaance points as well…the Aggies have now shot above .400 from the field in 9-of-12 games this season after shooting 42.6-percent from the floor…tonight was the first time NM State won a game this year when opponents shot better than the Aggies from the floor…the Aggies have won four-straight games now, one shy of tying its streak of five from earlier this season.
Day two of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic continues as NM State awaits its opponent for Saturday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. The Aggies will play the winner of No. 6/7 Miami and Hawaii.