Friday , Mar , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

‘Horns and Aggies mix it up in first round of NCAA Tourney

Spokane, WA (Sports Network) – The fourth-seeded Texas Longhorns will battle
the 13th-seeded New Mexico State Aggies in the first round of the 2007 NCAA
Tournament. Awaiting the winner is a matchup with either fifth-seeded USC or
12th-seeded Arkansas in the second round on Sunday.

New Mexico State won its first Western Athletic Conference Tournament
championship last Saturday with a 72-70 decision over Utah State. The Aggies
return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999, and they are 10-18
all-time at the event, including a 5-11 mark in the first round. They haven’t
advanced past the first round since 1993 and are expected to make an early exit
this year as well.

Texas is making its 25th showing at the “Big Dance”, including an active streak
of nine straight appearances. The Longhorns are 28-27 all-time in college
basketball’s biggest event, and they hope that their young starting lineup of
four freshmen and one sophomore will defy the odds and win the national
championship. Texas is coming off an 88-84 loss to Kansas in the title game of
the Big 12 Conference Tournament, proof that the Longhorns can hang with the
elite of college basketball.

The all-time series between New Mexico State and Texas is tied at 1-1, and the
teams haven’t met since 1980.

New Mexico State is scoring 78.3 ppg this season on 48.2 percent shooting from
the floor, including 39.3 percent from three-point range. Defensively, the club
is allowing 72.2 ppg. The top offensive performer for the Aggies is Justin
Hawkins, as he is posting 15.7 ppg on 52.5 percent efficiency from the field. A
versatile performer, Hawkins also contributes 6.8 rpg to go along with 76
assists and 42 steals. Tyrone Nelson adds 11.8 ppg and 6.5 rpg, while Elijah
Ingram checks in with 10.4 ppg. Hawkins, a junior, was named the MVP of the WAC
Tournament after averaging 17.0 ppg in three tourney games. He is a clutch
performer who will be counted on heavily against a much more talented Texas
team. Keep in mind that over the last 10 games, the Aggies have limited their
opponents to 29.3 percent shooting from three-point range.

The Texas freshmen account for over 70 percent of the team’s scoring,
rebounding and assists this year. While there are a number of talented players
on the roster, Kevin Durant stands head and shoulders above the rest. The
sensational rookie has been named the Big 12 Player of the Year and is on every
All-America list. He is a currently averaging 25.6 ppg and 11.3 rpg, and the
fact that Durant can shoot the three-pointer with efficiency, drive to the hoop
or score in the low post makes him a nightmare for opponents to defend. He has
hit the 30-point mark a school-record 10 times and has posted 20 double-
doubles. The Longhorns are 17-1 this season when outrebounding opponents, and
they are shooting 39.7 percent from three-point range. A.J. Abrams is scoring
15.4 ppg for Texas, and standout rookie point guard D.J. Augustin posts 14.5
ppg and 6.7 apg.