The New Mexico State men’s basketball team is on the verge of being like one of those runaway pennant clinchers in baseball that have things wrapped up by mid-September.
Winners of 11 straight, the Aggies (22-3, 9-0 Western Athletic Conference) can eliminate one of their chasers for the regular-season title tonight if they defeat host Utah Valley (17-8, 6-3) in Orem. A 12th consecutive victory could give the Aggies a four-game lead — and a tiebreaker, having won the first matchup between the teams — with four games to go.
Then the Aggies go to Seattle, which is tied with UVU in second place — for a Saturday afternoon contest. An NMSU win there could eliminate the Redhawks (17-9, 6-3), even if they win tonight vs. UT Rio Grande Valley.
NMSU said two wins this week will clinch the top seed for the Aggies in any case.
Tonight’s game against the transfer-laden Wolverines, however, appears to be the sternest test — on paper — of the season in league play for coach Chris Jans’ NMSU squad. The Aggies romped 86-59 at the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces on Jan. 20, but the 15-of-28 shooting on 3-point tries isn’t often duplicated.
Utah Valley, meanwhile, is 12-1 at home.
The Aggies received 66 points thanks to 13 voters in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, good for 26th most nationally. That’s up from five points from three voters only two weeks ago.
GOOD $$ NEWS: According to NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia, Saturday’s 74-70 home win over Grand Canyon brought in $73,285, which shattered the record (since starting to keep single-game revenue records in 2000) of $59,723.87 from the 2011-12 New Mexico-NMSU game.
“There were 23 businesses who purchased 100 tickets or more,” Moccia told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “We must have had more than 100 business buy 20 or more tickets.”
NMSU budgeted $22,000 for the GCU-NMSU game. Including the $50,000-plus bump from Saturday, Moccia said NMSU is ahead of individual ticket projections by $108,000 for the seven sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball and women’s soccer) that charge admission.