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NMSU wins 20th game of season

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By The Staff

Backed by Zach Lofton’s season-high 34 points, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team routed UT Rio Grande Valley 90-67 early Saturday evening inside the pan American Center.

In a game full of highlights for NM State, senior Jemerrio Jones had a big night and pulled down a career-tying 20 rebounds to go with 10 points and five assists for his 14th double-double of the year.

Jones last grabbed 20 boards in 2015 against Temple College (Feb. 21) while at Hill Junior College.

Jones’ 20 boards made him the 12th Aggie to pull down at least 20 rebounds and was the 24th time an NM State player pulled down 20-plus in a single-game.

The Aggies (20-3, 7-0 WAC) got off to slow start and trailed the Vaqueros by as much as seven (9-2). However, the offense slowly began to waken and finally took a 24-21 lead on a deep 3-pointer from Lofton – his second of seven in the game – with 8:01 left in the first half.

From that point on, New Mexico State never looked back as it finished off the half with an 18-9 run capped off by Jones, who fittingly scored on an offensive put-back for the 42-30 lead. NMSU dominated the paint in the first-half, outscoring UTRGV 26-4.

The Vaqueros (12-12, 3-4 WAC) started to hit their shots in the second-half and cut the Aggie lead to 46-40 at the first media break (15:17). NMSU’s offense came out of the timeout firing on all cylinders and went on a 13-2 run behind 3-pointers from Keyon Jones and Lofton – who exchanged four-straight triples to extend the Aggie lead to 59-42 within a 3:21 minutes span.

After the media timeout, Lofton exploded for another seven-straight points to put the Aggies ahead 68-47 with 8:22 left in the game after knocking down a pair of free-throws.

UTRGV never quit and got within 75-61 of New Mexico State thanks to an 8-0 run with 4:57 on the game clock.  

Unfortunately for the Vaqueros, the Aggie offense didn’t cool down with its reserve players slowly entering the game with Keyon Jones giving NMSU its largest lead of the game with 36 seconds remaining and the shot-clock winding down.

But, before the Aggies walked away with a convincing 90-67 victory, Jemerrio Jones became the first Aggie since Pascal Siakam (23) to pull down at least 20 rebounds in a single-game with 3:32 left in the game on an offensive board and put-back.