March 15, 2007
Tourney time is here, UT and Aggies to do battle
The No. 11 Texas Longhorns have endured a season of ups and downs, as expected from a team made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores. While the Longhorns have certainly felt the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, the four seeded Texas team will now enter territory that's really known only by sophomore A.J. Abrams, who picked up some March Madness action last year. It will be the first time on the big stage for the likes of Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Justin Mason, Craig Winder, Matt Hill and Dexter Pittman.
The opponent of the Longhorns will be New Mexico State, seeded 13th and playing out of the WAC conference. The Aggies finished second in conference play behind top 15 ranked Nevada, who is a seven seed in the East region. New Mexico State punched a ticket to the big dance by winning the WAC tournament on their home court in Las Cruces.
The Aggies have a 1-2 record against NCAA Tournament teams, splitting with Nevada and losing at Arizona.
Utah transfer Justin Hawkins leads New Mexico State as does Kansas State transfer Fred Peete. Hawkins averages 15.7 points per game and has tasted past NCAA Tournament success, scoring 20 points and pulling down 14 rebounds in a win over Oklahoma in 2005. The 6-foot-7 wing has blossomed into a fine all-around player as a junior. Peete may well be the key to the New Mexico State team as a junior, but enters March Madness hampered by a foot injury that limited the 6-4 guard to 21 minutes in three WAC tournament games after missing the three previous contest (lost two).
The Aggies' top interior player is former Hempstead High forward Tyrone Nelson. Nelson, a 6-9 junior, led the Aggies in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore and is averaging 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds as a junior.
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