JACKSON, Miss. – New Mexico State hadn’t had a signature win all season.
The Aggies sure do now, and on the road.
Johnny McCants scored a game-high 18 points, including the go-ahead jumper with two minutes left, as New Mexico State turned aside a Mississippi State rally to secure a 58-52 win at the Mississippi Coliseum on Sunday.
It was NMSU’s first win against a team from the Southeastern Conference in 25 years (Dec. 29, 1994 against Alabama). The Aggies are 3-9 all-time against SEC teams.
“The game was a defensive struggle early and for us to win we had to grind it out and be a low-possession game,” NMSU coach Chris Jans said. “We needed that win and we had to be real aggressive on defense and to keep them out of the paint as much as we could. Our guys are scrappy and it helped us down the stretch.”
Mississippi State came from 14 points down to edge ahead 52-51 on Reggie Perry’s dunk. McCants answered with a jumper at 2:02 to put the Aggies back in the lead and, after a Mississippi State miss, Evan Gilyard’s basket in the paint pushed the New Mexico State lead to 55-52.
Mississippi State turned the ball over three times in the last 1:07.
McCants was 7-of-10 shooting, including 3-for-6 from behind the arc. He also had three rebounds, two blocked shots and his steal with just under a minute left in the game helped seal it for the Aggies (8-6).