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Zags and Aggies square off in non-conference action

11:37 AM, Dec 7, 2013   |    comments
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Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 19th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs close out a two-game set at home on Saturday, as they take on the New Mexico State Aggies in non-conference action at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Mark Few's Bulldogs have won seven of their first eight games to start the 2013-14 season. The only setback thus far was a 84-79 upset to Dayton in the first round of the Maui Invitational. Gonzaga were able to close out their time in Hawaii with two victories over Chaminade and Arkansas and made it three straight wins with last Sunday's 86-51 blasting of Coppin State.

Marvin Menzies' Aggies also have seven wins on the year, but they have also lost three games. Two of those setbacks have come in the last two games, an 85-83 nail-biter at Colorado State and a 89-70 loss to rival New Mexico in Las Cruces on Wednesday.

This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.

The Aggies trailed the Lobos by 10 points at the half, and weren't able to recover, despite outscoring New Mexico over the final 20 minutes. Overall, NMSU shot a poor .387 from the floor, including a mere .211 from 3-point range (4-of-19). In addition, New Mexico State was outscored 28-18 at the free-throw line. Daniel Mullings scored 16 points to pace the team in the loss. Renaldo Dixon added 15 off the bench, while KC Ross-Miller chipped in with nine.

NMSU has done a good job at the offensive end of the floor this season, averaging 78.2 ppg, on a solid .483 shooting. In addition, the team has been tough on the boards, outrebounding foes by just under seven boards per game. Mullings is converting just over half of shots on the year, leading to a team- high 17.7 ppg. DK Eldridge adds 12.1 ppg and is the team's top sniper (.516 from behind the arc). Centers Sim Bhullar (9.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Tshilidzi Nephawe (9.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are a solid one-two punch in the paint. The 7- foot-5 Bhullar is one of the nation's top shot-blockers at 3.3 per game.

Gonzaga knocked down half its shots from the floor, including 12 3-pointers, and owned a 45-32 edge in rebounding, as the Zags made light work of Coppin State. Gary Bell Jr. led four Bulldogs in double figures with 15 points. Gerard Coleman and Kyle Dranginis added 14 and 12 points, respectively, off the bench, while Sam Dower finished with 11 points. Star guard Kevin Pangos was just 3-of-9 from the floor, finishing with nine points, but he did dole out a team-high six assists.

Pangos and Bell give Gonzaga a devastating backcourt tandem, as both cam fill up the basket and also get others involved. Pangos is shooting over 50 percent from the floor and over 48 percent from behind the arc, pacing the team with 20.4 points and 4.1 assists per game. Bell is shooting over 54 percent from long range, adding 15.0 ppg. Dower gives the team frontcourt balance with 14.5 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game. Not many teams are shooting the ball better than Gonzaga, which is knocking down 55.8 percent overall, and 48.1 percent from 3-point range. The result is a gaudy 91.8 ppg.

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