Senior forward Wendell McKines showed why he is an All-WAC selection Saturday in New Mexico State’s 83-78 overtime win over host Fresno State.
McKines scored nine of his 20 points in the overtime session and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds, all on the defensive end. He also hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Aggies up for good. The first came with 2:14 left in overtime to put NMSU ahead 73-72, and he hit another the next time down to finish 4 for 8 from 3-point range.
In the process, the Aggies erased a 19-point second-half deficit to pull out the win.
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“In overtime, my teammates found me and believed in me,” McKines told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “I’m just a confident person and don’t let the shots that I miss affect the next open shot. I always believe the next one is going to go in.”
McKines hit all three of his 3-point attempts in overtime after going 1 for 5 from beyond the arc in regulation.
“Everybody knows their role,” McKines told the Sun-News. “The WAC regular season is over, and we have learned some valuable lessons from the season.”
McKines, a 6-foot-7 native of Oakland, Calif., was selected to the WAC’s all-conference first team. He had a reasonable shot at being selected the conference’s player of the year, but Nevada sophomore guard Deonte Burton was chosen instead. NOTES, QUOTES
— New Mexico State will face Fresno State in the first round of the WAC tournament on Thursday, less than a week after beating the Aggies 83-78 in overtime to end the regular season. New Mexico State swept the two games against Fresno State this season.
“It’s a quick turnaround,” NMSU coach Marvin Menzies told the Las Cruces News-Sun. “There is not a whole lot of time to put many things in, but you can tweak things. We just have to make our adjustments.”
— Aside from senior F Wendell McKines getting All-WAC first-team recognition, the Aggies were represented by senior G Hernst Laroche on the second team and senior C Hamidu Rahman as an honorable-mention selection. Freshman G Daniel Mullings was selected to the all-newcomer team.
BY THE NUMBERS: 17-1 — New Mexico State’s record in games decided by 11 points or more.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “There were a lot of ups and downs to the season and a lot of different situations that created that, but I tell the kids all the time that every season is like a lifetime.” — New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies as quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
— Expect a closely contested game against Fresno State. Although New Mexico State swept the season series, the Aggies won by only four points (60-56) at home on Jan. 28 and survived in overtime with an 83-78 win at Fresno State on Saturday. One subplot will be the play of key reserves Sy Bandja of New Mexico State and Kevin Foster of Fresno State. Bandja scored a career-high 22 points in the overtime win on Saturday, while Foster came off the bench and scored 20 points while shooting 8 for 11. PLAYER NOTES
— New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies’ comments are published in a
column format for the Las Cruces News-Sun. In his recent column, Menzies mentioned two future Aggies. “I do not like touching on next season
before this season has completed, but our fans should be very excited to
know that we have two high-level talents sitting out this year that
will become household names during next season’s run to March,” the
column reads. “K.C. Ross-Miller, a point guard, who formerly committed
to Kentucky, will be ready to coach the squad on the floor next year
along with top-100 recruit Sim Bhullar, a 7-foot-5 center, who is
redshirting this season. These two players will make a lot of noise in
this town as well as nationally.”
— Senior G Hernst Laroche had one steal in the Aggies’ 83-78 overtime win over Fresno State on Saturday. That gives him 205 steals in his career, four shy of the school record held by William Benjamin.
— Junior F Bandja Sy scored a career-high 22 points — all after halftime — in the overtime victory over Fresno State.