Aggies pick up speed in win over Privateers

On a night that didn't start out well for the New Mexico State basketball team, the Aggies turned to a senior and freshman to pull them through the doldrums

After a sluggish, sloppy first half that saw NMSU turn the ball over 16 times, the Aggies regrouped after a coach Lou Henson halftime pep talk and played solid basketball in the second half, beating New Orleans 78-60 at the Pan American Center.

Senior Chris Jackson continued his late-season resurgence, nailing 5-of-8 field goals for 13 points and pulling down 11 rebounds as NMSU improved to 15-6 overall and 5-4 in Sun Belt Conference play.

Freshman Earl Calloway enjoyed his best game as an Aggie, hitting 3-of-5 field goals and one-of-four 3-pointers to finish with 10 points.

It was Jackson's second big game in a row. Saturday, the Dallas native scored 20 points and pulled down 23 rebounds in a loss to North Texas.

His play Thursday again carried the team on a night when the Aggies' top scoring threat, James Moore, only scored eight points.

"I'm working hard in practice now and it's carrying over to the games," Jackson said. "We're (still) playing to win. I don't think 5-4 is out of it. There's no telling what can happen during conference play."

He said Henson sparked the team at halftime.

"That's his job; he has to," Jackson said. "It seems like the conversation worked out for us."

NMSU was helped along by a whopping 30 New Orleans turnovers and an inconsistent shooting night. The Privateers' top scorer was Hector Romero, who finished with 15.

"Hector is a good player," Jackson said. "He can beat you in a lot of ways. We did a good job (on him) tonight."

Henson agreed.

"We wanted to double Romero more," he said. "One man can't stop him. We did a good job. He had three-of-13 field goals."

Meanwhile, Calloway provided energy in the second half and proved that he could be a star of the future for NMSU.

"He's going to be a good player," Henson said. "He's one of our best penetrators, but we need him (at the point)."

Calloway only had two points in the first half.

"As the season goes on, I'm feeling more confidence on the court," he said "I'm not as nervous or (overly) energetic."

Jason Fontenet chipped in 13 points for NMSU and Allen Haynes added 12, six on a pair of 3-pointers when the Aggies made their second-half run to pull away from New Orleans.

New Orleans fell to 12-10 and 5-6 in Sun Belt play. NMSU plays host to South Alabama Saturday.

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