Huggins, Aggies roll past Sun Devils

New Mexico State guard Jermaine Haley (left) goes up for a shot Saturday against Arizona State.

TEMPE, Ariz. — New Mexico State looks ready to defend its WAC regular season championship after Saturday’s momentous win over Arizona State of the Pac-12.

Braxton Huggins scored 24 points and Ian Baker added 19 with eight assists and seven rebounds to lead the Aggies to an 81-70 win over the Sun Devils.

Huggins knocked down a season-high six 3-pointers and Baker had season highs in assists and rebounds. Eli Chuha scored 13 points and grabbed 11 boards for the Aggies, who won their eighth straight and got their first true road win over a Power Five conference team since the 1994-95 season.

“Any chance you get to play a Pac-12 team, it’s a big moment for us,” Aggies coach Paul Weir said. “We felt if we came in and played well we would have a shot and fortunately we were able to come out with a victory against a very good basketball team.”

The Sun Devils (6-5) suffered through a poor second half of shooting, making just 10 of 33 shots, and coach Bobby Hurley was ejected with two technical fouls midway through the half.

Obinna Oleka led ASU with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Sun Devils had eight scholarship players available and all played.

The Aggies (10-2) led by as many as 10 points in the first half, with Huggins making four of the team’s eight first-half 3-pointers. He had 14 points at halftime.

“We just tried to run in transition and get everybody open looks,” Huggins said. “My teammates did a good job of passing me the ball when I was open.”

Arizona State trailed 29-22 midway through the half, then went on a 10-0 run. Kodi Justice hustled to save the ball from going out of bounds at one end, then made a spinning floater at the other to make the score 29-28 with 8:38 to go.

That energized the crowd, and it rose to its feet seconds later when Shannon Evans II dove for a loose ball and tapped it to Torian Graham for a fast break dunk to put the Sun Devils in front.

The lead changed hands until Jermaine Haley hit a corner 3 with four seconds left to give the Aggies a 40-38 halftime lead.

“Early in the game we had issues getting stops, and our offense was kind of just able to keep us going,” Weir said.

The Sun Devils didn’t score for more than four minutes to start the second half and the Aggies built the lead to 55-45 on a Johnathon Wilkins jumper with 12:28 to play.

“They outhustled us, outplayed us, they wanted it more and we were relaxed and lackadaisical,” Evans said.

Hurley picked up his second technical and was ejected at the 9:47 mark, at which point the Aggies led 62-47.

“I wish I could have congratulated them for the game they played,” Hurley said.

BIG PICTURE

ASU on Saturday started a three-game homestead which includes No. 10 Creighton’s visit to Tempe on Dec. 20. Creighton will be third top-20 team the Sun Devils face in the non-conference season.

TIP-INS

The Sun Devils played their first game without highly-touted freshman Sam Cunliffe, who left the program after the team’s game at San Diego State last Saturday. He was averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and had started all 10. … Justice appeared to take a shot to the face in the first half and left the court with a trainer, but returned quickly and continued to play.

UP NEXT

Arizona State hosts No. 10 and unbeaten Creighton on Tuesday night. Creighton will be the highest ranked non-conference team to play at ASU since Dec. 20, 1980, when ASU hosted No. 7 Ohio State.