New Mexico State topples UTSA, 75-62
SAN ANTONIO — Michael Hale III and Kannon Burrage combined for 38 points, but 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar posted 17 points and an opponent season-high 18 rebounds to lead New Mexico State to a 75-62 victory at UTSA on Saturday evening at the Convocation Center.
Bhullar’s double-double helped the Aggies run their winning streak to nine games and improve to 15-8 overall and 9-2 in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play. The freshman center was 7-for-11 from the floor and seven of his boards came on the offensive end.
Hale III poured in 20 points and added five assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals for the Roadrunners (5-16, 1-10 WAC). It marked the sixth time he has topped the 20-point barrier this season and the fourth in the last five contests.
Meanwhile, Burrage tallied 18 points and shared the team high of seven rebounds with Jordan Sims, who scored a dozen on a 4-for-7 effort from beyond the arc.
UTSA fell into an 8-0 hole to start the game but made five of its first six shots from beyond the arc to claim a 19-16 lead nine minutes into the contest.
Sims, who was perfect from long distance in the half, connected on his fourth trey to pull the Roadrunners to within 27-25, but New Mexico State reeled off nine unanswered points to take an 11-point lead with less than four minutes to play in the half.
UTSA cut the deficit to six when Hale III found Tyler Wood alone under the basket for an easy layup that made it 38-32 with a minute left on the clock, but Kevin Aronis answered with a three from the left wing to provide the nine-point halftime margin (41-32).
The Aggies pushed their lead to 14 early in the second half, but the Roadrunners pulled within six three times, the last when Burrage knocked down an off-balance three from the right wing with seven minutes to play, which made it 66-60.
The Aggies answered with a 7-0 run while UTSA went through an 0-for-16 field-goal drought over the next 6:05.
Burrage finally broke the ice with a jumper from right elbow to make it 73-62 with 1:16 remaining. However, Terrel De Rouen immediately was fouled and he promptly made a pair at the line to provide the final 13-point margin.
Bandja Sy matched Bhullar with 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting and he grabbed seven boards for the Aggies, who were out-rebounded by the shorter Roadrunners, 40-38 compared to a 38-16 advantage in the season’s first meeting on Jan. 3. Renaldo Dixon added 12 points, while De Rouen scored seven and dished out five assists.
UTSA will travel to Ruston, La., to face league-leading Louisiana Tech (19-3, 10-0 WAC) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7.