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This Week: NM State gears up for the first of two meeting with I-10 rival UTEP on Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the Pan American Center. This marks the 77th time the teams have met in program history. UTEP starts its season 5-0 after an NCAA run last season following a 24-3 regular season record. After the rivalry meeting, the Aggies set out for a weekend road trip to face Southern Utah on Dec. 1. The Thunderbirds host NM State with a 2-3 record.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
Scouting UTEP: UTEP is coming off one of its best seasons to date. 2011-12 brought a 29-4 overall record with an NCAA Tournament berth and Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. UTEP fell in the first round of the tournament to Penn State, but finished conference play with just one loss (15-1) to Rice. This year, the Miners start 5-0 after two wins at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas. Under the direction of 12th-year head coach Keitha Adams, UTEP looks to Anete Steinberga, Kayla Thorton and Kelli Willingham as the returning starters. Averaging 13.2 points and shooting .473 from the field, Thorton is among UTEP’s leading ladies. Kristine Vitola is on top of the stats sheet with an average of 16 points a game and 25 rebounds.
Series History Versus the Miners: The Wednesday game marks the 77th meeting between the I-10 rivals. UTEP and NM State first met in 1973 with a 58-37 win for the Aggies during their inaugural season. More recently, the Miners swept NM State during the 2011-12 season. Taking a 76-72 win in overtime in Las Cruces, UTEP prevailed at home with a much larger margin of 63-27 over NM State. The 27 points for NM State tied for the fewest points scored by an Aggie team in program history. (versus New Mexico 12/21/04) All time, UTEP holds a 46-30 record over the Aggies.
Television Coverage: Eight games are scheduled to air on television this season on AggieVision. The first game broadcast is the Aggies home game versus I-10 Rival UTEP on Nov. 28 from the Pan American Center. Fans can also go to www.AggieVision.tv for channel listings. Fans can see all the AggieVision games on ESPN3: http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/685893/utep-vs-new-mexico-state
Looking Ahead: After the first meeting with I-10 rival UTEP and the quick road trip to Southern Utah (Cedar City, Utah), NM State names the short drive to El Paso, Texas, to face the Miners for the second time this season. The yearly home-and-home series concludes in the Don Haskins Center on Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. Then, NM State gets nearly a two-seek break before hosting New Mexico for the conclusion of that yearly series.
Looking Back: The NM State women’s basketball team dominated the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic over the weekend going 2-0, making its overall season record 3-2. The Aggies derailed George Mason 55-52 on Friday evening with sophomore Danesia Williamson collecting 18 points with four assists. NM State claimed the championship title after a 50-44 victory over UC Irvine on Saturday evening. Freshman Sasha Weber collected a career-high 20 points with four three’s on the night. NM State is now 10-2 all-time in the home tournament and picked up its sixth title.
Prior to the tournament, the Aggies fell 60-37 to Rio Grande Rival New Mexico. The Aggies tallied 44 rebounds on the night, but sank just 14 of 64 field goal attempts.
About the Aggies: NM State returns six from the 2011-12 team, including Kelsie Rozendaal, who finished the season with a .526 shooting percentage. Rozendaal was third on the team with 108 total rebounds and second with a .778 free throw percentage on the year. Senior Jasmine Rutledge also returns for the Aggies after averaging 5.7 points per game with 4.1 rebounds. Rutledge saw action in each of the Aggies 30 games last season and started in half of those.
Chrissy Fletcher and Camila Rosen also return to the hardwood as two of the Aggies starters. Fletcher went 4-for-4 at the free throw line against UTEP (11/16) while earning her second straight academic All-WAC honor. Rosen picked up 32 steals as a junior and earned a season-high 13 points against Boise State (1/7).
Gilbreath joins the Aggie squad as a transfer from USC. The former Trojan played in each of USC’s 30 games last season, starting 17 contests and averaging 3.9 points per game. She led the team in free throw percentage at 83 percent (24-of-29) and averaged 2.6 rebounds per game. Gilbreath sat out three seasons with the Trojans due to knee injuries.
Along with Gilbreath, Trakh added six other newcomers to the roster. Las Cruces native, Elena Holguin, comes in after redshirting her freshman season. Three-point threat, Alexis Nelson, also joins the Aggies after breaking the single-season record for three pointers with 60 during her senior campaign at Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill.
NM State also brings in University of San Diego transfer, Denesia Williamson. The sophomore started one game and participated in 16 while averaging 12 minutes per game last season. The 5-6 guard averaged 5.1 points, 1.4 assists and 1.1 rebounds per game with the Toreros. Abby Scott (Madras, Ore.), Sasha Weber (Lacey, Wash.) and Shay Young (San Diego, Calif.) round out the newcomers for NM State.
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