Aggies lost last game
Tonight’s KU foe — New Mexico State — fell to Long Beach State, 82-77, on Sunday.
The Aggies (2-2) were without junior guard Jonathan Gibson and freshman center Chris Gabriel, who were suspended by coach Marvin Menzies for missing practice. Gibson is the only returning starter off last year’s 21-14 team, which went 12-4 in the Western Athletic Conference.
“Both missed practice and that was their punishment,” Menzies told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “They let their teammates down by not handling their business. I know nobody feels worse about it than they do.”
The Sun-News indicated both are likely to play in today’s 7 p.m. tip in Allen Fieldhouse.
Even without the duo, the Aggies led Long Beach by five points with just under two minutes remaining. N.M. State has also lost at Southern Cal, 70-63, and defeated UC Riverside (79-52) and Pepperdine (90-66) at home.
“They are very athletic, big on the wings,” KU coach Bill Self said. “The Long Beach State game was a one-possession game late without two of their best players. They are very capable, very athletic.”
Coach Menzies’ first New Mexico State team suffered a triple overtime loss to Boise State in the finals of the 2008 WAC Tournament. The 2008-09 Aggies were hit hard by the early-September transfer of standout Herb Pope to Seton Hall.
Aggies at a glance
New Mexico State averages 76.5 points per game off 48.1 percent shooting while allowing 68.5 points. The Aggies force 18.3 turnovers. ... Sophomore guard Jahmar Young averages a team-leading 18.0 ppg. He’s made a team-best 10 threes. Freshman forward Troy Gillenwater averages 15.5 ppg. Gibson averages 15.3 ppg. Sophomore forward Wendell McKines averages 7.8 rebounds per game.
KU freshman Tyshawn Taylor, who drew praise for his solid defensive work on Kent State’s Al Fisher in Monday’s 87-60 victory, still can’t believe he missed nine of 14 shots. Most of the misses were on layups. Taylor also missed a first-half dunk try.
“I started to get frustrated toward the end because I kept getting to the bucket, kept getting wide open layups. I just couldn’t buy one,” Taylor said. “I was like, ‘dang,’ but I looked over to the bench and coach kept telling me to keep shooting.”
Of his missed dunk, Taylor said: “I feel my legs are not with me as much as they used to be. If that was last year, I would have gotten up a little bit higher. I feel I’ve got to get more bounce. I’ve got to get my bounce back.”
He’s getting used to the rigors of college ball.
“We practice every day. We weightlift before practice sometimes and we play a lot. It definitely is wearing on me,” he said. “It wasn’t like that in high school. I’ve just got to get used to that.”
Frosh Quintrell Thomas knows what Taylor is talking about.
“It’s weird. When I first came to college I was expecting to dunk everything because that’s what I did in high school,” Thomas said. “After the first couple workouts I started losing it and then I guess you lose the mentality of ‘I’ve got to dunk everything,’ because your legs are always tired. Most of us have our legs back now, but because you stopped (dunking) so long ago, I guess it doesn’t come as easy anymore.”
Self on KU’s barrage of inside misses: “The offense isn’t crisp but we are somewhat efficient considering how many missed bunnies we have. This team misses more layups than any team of all time.”
Self was asked about the freshmen maybe having tired legs.
“I think everybody goes through periods of time they don’t have their legs as much, (but) don’t read into any of that stuff those guys tell you,” he said with a laugh, as always, entertained at some things the players say in interviews.