Aggies Get First Place In The WAC

The Aggies defeated the Wolf Pack 80-73 in front of 12,482 loud fans in a huge Western Athletic Conference victory. (Sun-News photo by Jennifer West)

New Mexico State (15-4 overall, 5-1 WAC) is now tied with Nevada (17-2, 5-1) atop the league standings and, for the moment, hold the head-to-head tie breaker. The two team's play again March 3 in Reno. The Aggies, 11-0 at home this season, handed Nevada its first loss on the road this year. The Wolf Pack's only other loss was in Reno to Nevada-Las Vegas. Nevada swept their three games against NMSU during the 2005-06 season.

With Thanks to Hawkins scored 19 of his career-high 29 points in the first half and the Aggies -- a 64 percent shooting team -- hit 18 straight free throws in the final seven minutes to beat No. 15 Nevada 80-73 Saturday night.

Hawkins and New Mexico State's quickness and second chance shooting were too much for the Wolf Pack. "We got pounded on the glass and pounded on the foul line," said Nevada coach Mark Fox of the Aggies' 45-32 edge in rebounding and 28 of 34 free throw shooting. New Mexico State (15-4, 5-1 WAC) had 23 offensive rebounds and consistently turned them into points to give second-year head coach Reggie Theus his first win over a Top 25 team. It was the Aggies' first win over a ranked team since January of 1999, when they beat No. 12 New Mexico. It also was the latest installment in Theus' quick fix of a program that went 6-24 -- its worst record in 39 years -- the year before Theus was hired. "This is a defining moment in this basketball program," said Theus, a former assistant to Rick Pitino, who was hired on the same night that Louisville won the NCAA tournament's Albuquerque Regional in March 2005. Hawkins added 11 rebounds -- nine of them offensive. He summed up his career night as a case of being open and his teammates finding him.

"I was in the right place at the right time," Hawkins said. "The guys found a way to get me the ball and the ball was just going in."

Nevada (17-2, 5-1) got 21 points and seven rebounds from Nick Fazekas and 23 points from Ramon Sessions.

But Nevada, which had its 10-game winning streak snapped, was no match for the Aggies on the boards and Hawkins' quick hands and quicker release.

NMSU next game is with Idaho

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