TULSA, Oklahoma - It was a tale of two halves for the (14) New Mexico State Aggies against the (3) Baylor Bears in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
In a back and forth affair in the first 20 minutes, the Aggies found themselves up at the break 40-38. NMSU shot 50 percent in the first half, and got Baylor star Johnathan Motley into early foul trouble allowing the Aggies more space to execute their style of play.
But NMSU head coach Paul Weir knows a high-caliber team when he sees one.
"I have to tip our caps to Baylor," Weir said. "They played a terrific second half, and they're a great team. I was taking to Coach Henson earlier this week before we left, and coach told me that you're going to have to play well but they're going to have to have a bit of an off night and we didn't catch them on an off night."
And in the second half, Baylor came out firing on all cylinders.
The Bears had a second 13-2 run early in the second half (making six-of-seven from the field) that erased a 42-38 deficit and gave the Bears a 51-44 lead. During an 11:37 stretch midway through the game Baylor shot 76.4 percent, making 13-of-17 shots.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the difference in the game came solely in the final 20 minutes, but on both sides of the ball.
"The big difference was the second half," Scott Drew said. "We held them to 36 percent and 2-8 from three, so we really defended better. And then we only had five turnovers, which we were able to keep them out of transition more because of that."
The Aggies were outscored 53-33 in the second half and allowed Baylor to shoot 50 percent from three in the game's entirety.
The lone senior of the NMSU, Ian Baker, finishes his final game of his collegiate career with 19 points and 5 assists. Baker said he still needed time to collect all of his emotions now that his run with the Aggies has come to an end, but he was grateful for his time as an Aggie.
"I loved my experience at New Mexico State and I'm glad I came here," Baker said.
The Aggies, who had a five-game winning streak snapped, closes out the season with a 28-6 overall record. The Aggies suffered their 10th straight loss in the NCAA Tournament with their NCAA Tournament mark slipping to 7-22
Baylor now leads the all-time series 6-5 with New Mexico State with the Bears on a three-game winning streak, all in the last three seasons.