Tech beat Houston Baptist 84-47 on Thursday before going on the road to beat Murray State 69-60. Magnum Rolle led the way with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Kyle Gibson and Olu Ashaolu each scored 16 to join Rolle in double figures. It was a career high for Ashaolu, whose previous high was 13. Ashaolu was 6 of 6 from the field and Gibson came within a few points of reaching 1,000 for his career. Jamel Guyton was held scoreless for a large portion of the game, but made big plays down the stretch. Guyton finished with 9 points and made 2 of 3 from deep. When all four players get it going, it is hard to knock them off. Together they combined for all but 3 of Tech's points and the Bulldogs knocked off a 15 win team that is hard to beat at home.
Gibson and Guyton combined for 40 points againt Houston Baptist and Ashaolu finished with 12. Ashaolu has now started two games in a row and has scored in double figures both times. Freshman Brandon Gibson has given Coach Rupp solid minutes in both games as well. NMSU comes to town after winning 6 of their last 7 games including the last 4 in a row. The Aggies built a double digit lead in the second half last week against Tech before olding on to win by 2 points. NMSU and Boise are tied for third in the WAC in the loss column with 5 while Tech is one game out of sixth. Seeds 2 through 8 in the conference tournament are all wide open.
This week's games will certainly have a tournament feel to them. They will be important for Tech to head in to the tourney with momentum. The Bulldogs have only advanced to the conference semifinals one time since joining the WAC. The Bulldogs have been playing well recently and could really take a big step for the program with a postseason win.
Players like Magnum Rolle and Kyle Gibson will be counted on to lead the way. Olu Ashaolu and Jamel Guyton are also hitting their strides at the right time too. Brandon Gibson, Shawn Oliverson, David Jackson, and James Loe have all logged important minutes for the team. Yonas Berhe and Adrian Rogers also proved they can be counted on when needed. Depth will be a big help down the stretch. Scoring in the low post could have been a weakness since the loss of Kenneth Cooper but Ashaolu has used his strong frame to prove effective inside.
March Madness is a week away, but the last week in February has all the makings of some exciting basketball. It all starts Thursday.