THE OPENING TIP
• Fresh off an NCAA Tournament first-round win Thursday night, the NM State men's basketball team take aim at the program's first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1992 when it tangles with #17/18 Arkansas Saturday night at 6:40 p.m. MT in a Second Round NCAA Torment tilt.
• The third all-time matchup between the Aggies and Razorbacks will take place inside the KeyBank Center. TNT will televise each and every second of the action with Brad Nessler, Brendan Haywood and Evan Washburn on the call.
• Over the airwaves, legendary radio play-by-play man Jack Nixon will set up shop courtside to call the action.
• The play-by-play and analysis of the nation's 14th-longest tenured NCAA Division I men's basketball voice can be heard on 99.5 Zia Country FM in Las Cruces, N.M., and nationwide on The Varsity Network app.
• Affiliate stations of the Aggie Sports Network can be tuned in to in Artesia, N.M. (990 AM), Carlsbad, N.M. (1240 AM), Gallup, N.M. (94.9 FM), Alamogordo, N.M. (103.7 FM) and El Paso, Texas (1380 AM). All of those stations will also carry Nixon's commentary of Saturday night's showdown.
• In addition to Nixon's narration of the game, fans can also tune into the play-by-play and analysis of Westwood One's tandem of Scott Graham and Jon Crispin. Their call of the clash between NM State and #21/21 UConn can be heard on Sirius channel 136 and XM channel 203. Additional ways to listen include the "March Madness Mix" on WestwoodOneSports.com/Madness, on the free NCAA March Madness Live app and on the free Varsity Network app.
LAST TIME OUT | NM State 70, #21/21 UConn 63 | Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022
• The United States of America was introduced to NM State and its high-powered scoring machine Teddy Allen Thursday night as the redshirt junior out of Phoenix, Ariz., tossed a lit match onto a gasoline-soaked pile of brackets by torching #21/21 UConn for 37 points as the Aggies upset the fifth-seeded Huskies by a 70-63 tally.
• No other NM State player finished in double digits in the scoring column, but it mattered not with Allen dictating the night's tempo. The WAC Player of the Year went a perfect 13-of-13 at the foul stripe, accounting for all of the Aggies' attempts and makes from that distance, to help his team put the madness in March Madness.
• It was Allen's backbreaking triple with with 1:43 left that broke a 58-58 deadlock and put the Aggies on top the rest of the way. The Huskies had stormed back from 14 points down to knot things up on two occasions down the stretch, but at the end of the night it was "Teddy Buckets'" world and the other citizens of the planet just had to deal with it.
• Etching his name into NCAA Tournament lore, Allen's 37 points matched the KeyBank Center record for points in a single game. Additionally, those 37 markers represented the most in an NCAA Tournament game at the facility. Jameer Nelson had previously held the record after firing in 33 points for St. Joseph's in an NCAA Tournament tilt with Liberty on March 18, 2004.
• Allen became the first player ever to score at least half of his team's points and make all of his team's free throws in an NCAA Tournament game.
• Each of the Aggies' final 15 points in their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1993 were put in by Allen. His 37 points are the most in an NCAA Tournament win over UConn since Temple's Hal Lear had 40 against them back in 1956.
• Thursday night's win was NM State's first over a nationally-ranked team since Dec. 23, 2017. That day, under head coach Chris Jans, the Aggies scored a 63-54 win over #6/7 Miami in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
• For Jans, he moved his record to 1-2 in NCAA Tournament games and helped the program snap a 12-game losing skid in NCAA Tournament tilts.
• No other NM State player in the history of the program matched or exceeded Allen's 37-point total in an NCAA Tournament game.
• With NM State's win as well as fellow 12-seed Richmond's triumph over five-seed Iowa, 2022 is the 16th year since 1985 (37 tournaments) that multiple 12 seeds have won first-round games against their fifth-seeded opponent.
LAST TIME OUT vs. AN SEC OPPONENT | NM State 58, Mississippi State 52 | Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019
• Junior forward Johnny McCants put on a show by scoring 10 of his career-high 18 points through the Aggies' 12-2 run to start the second half and NM State survived a late comeback bid by Mississippi State to claim a 58-52 win over the Bulldogs in Jackson, Miss., on Sunday, Dec. 22.
• The win was the third victory over a current SEC opponent in the history of New Mexico State basketball as well as head coach Chris Jans' first win over an SEC opponent.
• At a 52-51 disadvantage after a Mississippi State layup with 2:38 left, the Aggies went to McCants again and the junior delivered by drilling a deep step-back two pointer with 2:02 left that put New Mexico State on top for good. That shot was the starting point of a 7-0 Aggie run to conclude the game.
• Trevelin Queen snared a team and career-high 10 rebounds in the win to help the Aggies own a 33-32 edge on the glass over their foes from Starkville.
• Evan Gilyard II came in off the bench and chipped in 14 points for NM State. With him on their side, the Aggies claimed victory over an SEC program for the first time since taking down Alabama in the Pan Am Center on Dec. 29, 1994.
• NM State's defense came up big late, forcing four Mississippi State turnovers in the game's last 1:26 to put things on ice.
• The Aggies' depth helped win the day, too, as NM State finished with a 23-3 (+20) edge in bench scoring production.
AGGIES IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
• 23 | NM State is making its 23rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history.
• 12 | For the fifth time in program history, NM State is a 12-seed in the NCAA Tournament. NM State has been a 12-seed all three times it has made the NCAA Tournament under head coach Chris Jans.
• 12 vs. 5 | The always-popular 12-seed over five-seed upset played out in favor of NM State Thursday night. As of this writing, 12-seeds are 53-93 (.363) against five-seeds since the NCAA Tournament field expanded in 1985. Since 2016, at least one 12-seed has succeeded in springing an upset over a five-seed in all but one NCAA Tournament (the 2018 edition).
• NM State owns a 3-4 on-court record as a 12-seed in NCAA Tournament games. The Aggies' four losses as a 12 seed have come by a combined 22 points, or an average of 5.5 points per game. Officially, though, NM State's record as a 12-seed will be remembered as 1-3.
• 1993 | NM State returns to the state of New York for NCAA Tournament action for the first time since 1993. That year, the Aggies made it to the second round in Syracuse, N.Y., though neither one of those games are officially a matter of NCAA record any longer.
• 4 | While four members of the current NM State men's basketball team have been to various NCAA Tournaments, only three of them have logged minutes in the Big Dance. Teddy Allen advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with West Virginia in 2018 while Johnny McCants played major minutes in the Aggies' NCAA Tournament tilts with Auburn (2019) and Clemson (2018). Clayton Henry made his NCAA Tournament debut in 2019 against Auburn. Jabari Rice was on the Aggies' roster for their 2019 tilt with Auburn but never entered the game.
• The Allen's | Teddy Allen and his brother Timmy Allen (Texas) are the only set of brothers still playing in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
• SEC | This is the third matchup featuring NM State and a current SEC foe in the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies suffered a heartbreaking 78-77 loss to eventual Final Four participant Auburn in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
• SEC II | NM State is 3-9 all-time against current SEC foes. For his part, Jans is 1-1 when matching with with SEC institutions as the Aggies' head coach.
• The 90's | NM State was forced to vacate its 1992, 1993 and 1994 NCAA Tournament appearances due to academic fraud. That decision by the NCAA Committee on Infractions wiped away NM State's memorable run to the Sweet Sixteen in 1992. Included in that run was a first-round win over DePaul (then a member of the Great Midwest Conference, not the BIG EAST). In all, those academic fraud infractions nixed a 3-3 NCAA Tournament mark from NM State's history.
• 1970 | With the vacation of its 1992, 1993 and 1994 NCAA Tournament appearances, NM State's last "official" NCAA Tournament win prior to Thursday night came in 1970. That year, led by the late head coach Lou Henson, the likes of Jimmy Collins and Sam Lacey led NM State to the Final Four for the first - and so far, only - time in the history of the program. NM State lost to eventual national champion UCLA in the Final Four but won the NCAA's third-place game by a 79-73 tally against St. Bonaventure.
• Chris Jans | NM State's fifth-year bench boss has led the Aggies to three of the four available NCAA Tournaments during his tenure. NM State didn't make the cut for the Big Dance in 2021 and did not do so in 2020, either, as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the entire NCAA Tournament.Jans' NCAA Tournament record stands at 1-2 with those games decided by a total of 19 points.
• For the second time in as many games, NM State will be playing a nationally-ranked opponent when it crosses paths with #17/18 Arkansas Saturday night. The Aggies haven't played nationally-ranked foes in back-to-back games since 2013 when they faced #19 Gonzaga (80-68 loss on Dec. 7) and #1 Arizona (74-48 loss on Dec. 11).
• WAC in March Madness | Teams from the Western Athletic Conference are 21-42 all-time in NCAA Tournament action.
SCOUTING ARKANSAS | ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS
• After bowing out of the SEC Tournament prematurely, the Razorbacks made sure to dodge an upset bid in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Just a few hours after NM State left the court of the KeyBank Center, Arkansas survived Vermont's last-ditch comeback effort and advanced to round two of the Big Dance via a 74-71 result.
• Four Razorbacks pumped in 13 or more points in that one, none more than Stanley Umude who finished with a game-best 21 on a 6-of-11 effort from the field in 40 minutes of action. A big bench boost by Davonte Davis (14 points, 6-of-10 shooting) aided Arkansas' efforts, too.
• Hoping to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, Arkansas will try to do the thing it has done better than any other team so far this season: shoot - and make - free throws. The Razorbacks lead the nation in free throw attempts (783) and free throws made (591).
• Manning things down on the block is Jaylin Williams, one of the nation's best rebounders. The forward ranks second in the SEC in rebounding at a clip of 9.6 per game and his 13 double-doubles on the year are second only to Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe among all SEC players.
• A proven scorer and a premier faciltator, JD Notae helms the Razorbacks' backcourt. One of the nation's best guards, Notae tops the team's charts in scoring (18.4 points per game) and assists (3.7 per game) and was a consensus First Team All-SEC choice by the league's coaches as well as the Associated Press. Those All-SEC honors came before a trio of All-American honors from outlets such as The Sporting News and College Hoops Today.
• Arkansas has gone 5-4 this season in games decided by five points or less.
THIS DATE IN NM STATE HISTORY
• For the fourth time in program history - and the the third time in the NCAA Tournament - NM State will take to the court on March 19. The Aggies' first game on this date came in 1910 as they dropped a 33-31 decision to the El Paso YMCA.
• The Aggies played in NCAA Tournament first-round games on this date in 1993 and 2010. The former resulted in a 93-79 win over Nebraska in Syracuse, N.Y., while the latter was a heartbreaking 70-67 loss the Draymond Green-led #13/12 Michigan State.
COMING UP NEXT
• There are just two possible outcomes for the Aggies depending on Saturday night's result in Buffalo. With a win, NM State would advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1992. A loss would put an end to one of the most magical seasons of hoops in program history.