UL Sports

Nov 24, 2012 12:10 AM by UL Sports Information

Slow Start Dooms UL Basketball at New Mexico State

New Mexico State scored the game's first 10 points and Louisiana's inability to make shots in the first half resulted in a large deficit that the team couldn't overcome here Friday evening at the Pan American Center. As a result, NMSU kept the Cajuns winless on the road with a 79-57 victory.

Louisiana (2-3) struggled with the Aggies height advantage in the opening stanza, getting out-rebounded 30-14 (10-3 in offensive rebounds) and of the five field goals made by the Cajuns only one was from inside the three-point line.

While the Cajuns shot 18.5 percent (5-of-27) in the first half, the Aggies connected at 48.3 percent (14-of-29) and built a 41-18 halftime advantage.

NMSU (3-3) started the second half connecting on four of its first five attempts and the lead ballooned to 30-plus points five minutes into the frame.

The Aggies hot start, combined with Louisiana's continued struggles from the floor (started 4-of-16 in second half), erased any hopes of a second half comeback for Louisiana.

Four different Cajuns produced at least six points - Steven Wronkoski (16), Shawn Long (15), Bryant Mbamalu (6) and Matthew Moss (6).

Long registered double figures in points for the fourth time in five games and Wronkoski set a career-high for the second straight game following up 12 points vs. SUNO on Wednesday.

The Aggies saw three players reach double figures led by Bandja Sy's game-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

NMSU benefitted from decisive advantages in points in the paint (26-14) and points off turnovers (22-16). The Aggies controlled the boards, posting a 52-30 edge in rebounds and had nearly three times an many trips to the charity stripe as the Cajuns (36-13 edge in FT attempts).

Louisiana wraps up its Thanksgiving holiday road trip on Sunday, Nov. 25 in East Lansing, Mich., against Michigan State. Tipoff at the Breslin Center is set for 11 a.m. (CST). The game with the Spartans, which wraps up the Spartan Showcase presented by Auto-Owners Insurance, is being broadcast on ESPN3.com.

The Ragin' Cajuns finished the night strong. Louisiana shot 10-of-21 (48 percent) in the final 11 minutes and made a deficit that had grown as large as 37 points (67-30) with 11:33 remaining look respectable.

Starting with a Wronkoski triple at 5:21, the Ragin' Cajuns scored baskets on three straight possessions. The last in the string of successive possessions featured another triple from the freshman out of Hammond and trimmed the NMSU lead to 68-49 with 4:30 remaining.

The Aggies were forced to place several starters back into the contest to quiet a Cajuns surge that saw a 19-2 run by Louisiana make the hosts lead not as comfortable as it was seven minutes earlier.

NMSU picked up its third straight victory over the Ragin' Cajuns, all wins coming since the Aggies left the Sun Belt Conference following 2004-05 season. The Aggies, who swept a non-conference home-and-home in 2010-11, cut the Louisiana series lead to 10-5.

Sy provided NMSU with four points in the game's first minute, the first of 10 unanswered points the hosts strung together before Long got Louisiana on the scoreboard with a trey at 16:17.

The Cajuns defense kept the Aggies in check through the under 12 timeout. Louisiana had forced seven NMSU turnovers to overcome a 1-of-12 start from the field and keep the score close at 12-5.

NMSU stretched the lead out after the timeout with a flurry of points prior to the arrival of the 10 minute mark.

Daniel Mullings scored a triple after the media timeout, converted a layup of a Cajuns miss, then Sy connected on a triple at 10:36 and K.C. Ross-Miller made two free throws at 10:18 to increase the Aggies lead to 22-5.

Mbamalu hit two free throws at 5:57 to slice the Aggies lead to 27-12, but the second 10-plus point run by the hosts put the Cajuns in a huge hole. Three-pointers from Eric Weary and Kevin Aronis triggered an 11-0 run that gave NMSU 38-12 edge.

Kevin Brown and Moss connected from behind the arc in the final two minutes to give the Cajuns a spark on offense heading into the locker room.

BANK SHOTS: The contest was the third between the former Sun Belt rivals since NMSU left the league following the 2004-05 season...NMSU has won all three meetings (swept non-conference series in 2010-11)...Freshman Steven Wronkoski made his first career start for Louisiana, taking the place of Alan-Michael Thompson in the starting lineup...Matthew Moss attempted the first three-point field goals of his young career, and knocked down 2-of-4 in the opening half...The Cajuns forced 12 NMSU turnovers in the first half, the third time this season the squad forced double digit miscues from the opposition in the opening half (10 vs. Oakland & 12 vs. SUNO)...All 12 Cajuns who made the trip stepped onto the court...The Aggies posted their largest margin on victory in the all-time series, topping their 16 point win (92-76) at the Cajundome on Nov. 12, 2010...The Cajuns played their third road game of the season in a third different state (11/16 in Houston, Texas, 11/18 in Boise, Idaho, and 11/23 in Las Cruces, N.M.)...The Aggies played Friday night's game in honor of former player Kelsey Crooks who battled multiple sclerosis until it ultimately claimed his life in August at the age of 31...The Ragin' Cajuns traveled to El Paso, Texas, after the completion of Friday's game and checked into the El Paso Marriott...Louisiana is scheduled to fly out of El Paso on Saturday morning to travel to East Lansing, Mich., for Sunday's meeting with Michigan State.

NEWSPAPER BOX SCORE

Louisiana vs New Mexico State

11/23/12 7:30 PM at Las Cruces, N.M (Pan American Center)

LOUISIANA (2-3) Wronkoski, Steven 4-7 4-4 16; Long, Shawn 5-15 3-3 15; Moss, Matthew 2-7 0-0 6; Mbamalu, Bryant 2-9 2-2 6; Shepherd, Kasey 2-6 1-2 5; Brown, Kevin 1-2 0-0 3; Williams, Donovan 1-2 0-0 2; Payton, Elfrid 1-8 0-2 2; Moore, Elridge 1-2 0-0 2; Lazare, Braylon 0-2 0-0 0; Thompson, Alan-Micha 0-2 0-0 0; Barnett, Cornell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-64 10-13 57

NEW MEXICO STATE (3-3) Sy, Bandja 6-8 2-2 16; Aronis, Kevin 4-8 1-2 12; Watson, Tyrone 4-5 4-5 12; Ross-Miller, K.C. 1-6 9-11 11; Nephawe, Tshilidzi 4-8 2-7 10; Mullings, Daniel 3-5 0-0 7; Dixon, Renaldo 1-3 3-4 5; Weary, Eric 1-2 0-0 3; Bhullar, Sim 1-1 1-5 3; West, B.J. 0-4 0-0 0; Coleman, Emery 0-0 0-0 0; de Rouen, Terrel 0-1 0-0 0; Barry, Remi 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-53 22-36 79

Halftime Score: New Mexico State 41, Louisiana 18. 3-point goals--Louisiana 9-26 (Wronkoski, Steven 4-6; Long, Shawn 2-6; Moss, Matthew 2-6; Brown, Kevin 1-1; Thompson, Alan-Micha 0-2; Williams, Donovan 0-1; Shepherd, Kasey 0-2; Mbamalu, Bryant 0-2), New Mexico State 7-18 (Aronis, Kevin 3-7; Sy, Bandja 2-2; Mullings, Daniel 1-2; Weary, Eric 1-2; de Rouen, Terrel 0-1; Barry, Remi 0-2; Ross-Miller, K.C. 0-2). Fouled out--Louisiana-Moss, Matthew; Long, Shawn, New Mexico State-None. Rebounds--Louisiana 30 (Mbamalu, Bryant 7), New Mexico State 52 (Nephawe, Tshilidzi 11). Assists--Louisiana 12 (Shepherd, Kasey 4), New Mexico State 12 (Ross-Miller, K.C. 3; Mullings, Daniel 3). Total fouls--Louisiana 26, New Mexico State 13. Technical fouls--Louisiana-Payton, Elfrid; TEAM, New Mexico State-Watson, Tyrone. A-5291

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