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NMSU men’s basketball rolls over North Dakota State in season opener

New Mexico State’s men’s basketball team rolled over North Dakota State Tuesday evening en route to a 73-56 win to kick off the 2018-19 campaign.

The Aggies put on a perfect season debut against the Bison. New Mexico State put the pedal to the metal to put points on the board and never let off.

NMSU started the game almost to perfection with an 18-3 lead over NDSU early in the first frame. The Aggies jumped out to a 5-1 lead following a long-range jump shot from JoJo Zamora and a slam dunk from Ivan Aurrecoechea. New Mexico State, trying to create separation, only allowed one layup before scoring 13 unanswered points to put the Aggies up 18-3.

Costly mistakes halted NMSU’s effort at creating a larger buffer at halftime. Both the Aggies and the Bison went basket for basket before the buzzer. New Mexico State finished the first half outscoring North Dakota State 36-20. JoJo Zamora and Eli Chuha did their job on the offensive side of the ball during the first half, putting up eight and six points for the Aggies respectively. NMSU shot 14 for 31 in the field for a respectable 45.2 percent. However, the Aggies shot a depressing 2 for 14 from beyond the arc.

On the number of threes his team shot, Aggies head coach Chris Jans said, “I think we’re going to be a team that shoots a lot of threes.”

The Bison started off the second period trying to make a comeback, putting up the first points in the half. However, the Aggies extended their lead to 20 with a jump shot from AJ Harris.

The Bison couldn’t handle the Aggies’ high-powered offense. NDSU cycled players in and out to try and stop the NMSU offensive powerhouse. Despite personnel changes from the opposition, New Mexico State would rise to a 27-point lead after a layup by junior Clayton Henry.

The Bison finally scored with a three-point bomb with less than six minutes left on the clock. The sudden score wouldn’t help the Bison in the home of the Panamaniacs. The Aggies held onto the ball in the final seconds of the game to win, 73-56.

JoJo Zamora was a big part of the Aggies’ offensive showcase. Zamora scored a team high 16 points and helped the team to an early lead. In reference to the team’s hot start, Zamora said, “We wanted to punch them in the mouth, come out strong and play to the best of our abilities.”

New Mexico State started off its season perfectly with a 1-0 record. Up next for the Aggies, the Battle of I-10 against the UTEP Miners is around the corner. The Miners are under new leadership and will be a different match-up for the Aggies this year.

“I’m going to have to learn on the fly here really quick,” Jans said of the rivalry match.

The Aggies and Miners will tip off at 7 p.m. Friday evening, Nov. 9, at the Pan American Center.

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