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Watson's Status Could Distract on Road Trip

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What’s next for Tyrone Watson as a New Mexico State basketball player has to be up in the air. Same with Tshilidzi Nephawe.

Will the fate of one necessarily affect the other?

Coach Marvin Menzies has more on his plate than a mere two-game road swing against teams the Aggies (13-8, 7-2 Western Athletic Conference) already have beaten, beginning tonight at Texas State (7-14, 3-6).

   
Today
NMSU men at Texas State, 6 p.m., 101.7 FM; Texas State at NMSU women, 6:30 p.m.
   

The NMSU women, meanwhile, host Texas State tonight in a 6:30 tip. The Aggie women (9-10, 3-6) are trying to snap a five-game losing steak.

Watson, a 6-foot-5 senior who has started all 21 games and averages 10.8 points per game, is being investigated in the severe beating of a fellow NMSU student at a weekend house party. Miguel Rascon, 19, had not pressed charges as of Tuesday, and so Menzies said that Watson would make this road trip.

But the Las Cruces Sun-News reported Wednesday that the student will press charges.

Nephawe, meanwhile, returned to practice for the first time this week since undergoing surgery in early December to repair torn ligaments in his right hand. The 6-10 junior may be some time away from playing, but he’s on the trip to Texas.

Nephawe, who played in only nine games this season, could be a candidate for a medical redshirt, said Menzies. But beyond Nephawe’s returning to readiness, “then we’d factor in redshirt (possibilities), his academic situation, chance of contributing right now and helping us to reach our goals.”

If Watson is soon to be suspended, per NMSU’s student athlete code of conduct, Menzies could decide he needs Nephawe for the balance of this season. It would, however, be an apple-for-orange trade -Watson is a small forward who occasionally mans the point, while Nephawe is an inside bruiser.

The distraction comes as the Aggies are trying to stay within reach of league leader Louisiana Tech (18-3, 9-0) and extend a seven-game winning streak.

“Our confidence is good, but we know that every game we can play better,” said sophomore guard Terrel de Rouen, an Oñate grad. “The biggest challenge when you’re winning is to stay humble. Anybody can lose. A lot of No. 1 teams are losing.”
Watson’s Status Could Distract on Road Trip

NEW MEXICO STATE
— This article appeared on page D4 of the Albuquerque Journal

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