It was a theoretically simple plan. Aggie Men’s Basketball was offering $10 tickets in the Student Section for three games while the university was on break. The catch was that you had to get the tickets before gameday. I’d called Ron on Thursday and asked if he wanted to go to Saturday’s game. I offered to go buy the tickets. He told me he was going to the Thursday night game and he could get the tickets. Swell.
Come Saturday, Ron had not bought the tickets. However, he’d asked about the $5 ticket section. They’re only sold on gameday. He’d went by the ticket office earlier, but it’d been closed. Of course they were sold out at game time. This meant having to buy full price tickets. Luckily, they were only $15. That said, I ended up paying 50% more than I meant to.
Note Ivan Aurrecoechea’s clean cut new hairstyle. Well done young man. Sweatbands and long hair were not the way to go for you. He must have gotten a girlfriend. I also picked up a new glossy scorecard. This format would kind of prove kind of impractical for actual scorekeeping.
Since we’d gotten to the Pan-Am Center early, Ron and I took a walk around. (This might have also been because Ron thought our seats were on the other side of the arena.) I noticed that the concessions were selling Chik-fil-a sandwiches, along with Little Caesars Pizza. That’s a nice upgrade. Once again, I didn’t try the Aggie burger, since I’d just had lunch. Maybe next time. (If only they’d sell this stuff during Volleyball games and Women’s Basketball.) If I hadn’t spent extra on the tickets, I probably would have picked up some cinnamon roasted nuts or kettle corn.
Our seats were right off the main concourse on the north end. We were not behind the goal, as I was at a Men’s game a couple of years ago (1-21-17). (I misidentified that as the student section.) These seats were off to the side, so we had no trouble seeing all the court. When Ron went on Thursday, he’d been able to move to a better seat. There was no need for that. Not to mention, there was a much bigger crowd, so we couldn’t have moved. Ironically, that $10 Student section was the only one that wasn’t mostly filled.
I saw a couple co-workers (officers) there. They were sitting at the courtside seats. I nudged Ron. There was an incredible Pan-Am staff member taking care of them. The young woman was sashaying down the row in a tight red miniskirt. We were both enraptured. Around the crowd, I saw the Thursday giveaway hat on several people. It looked pretty good. No wonder Ron went to the game.
Hey! There’s Chico, mascot of the El Paso Chihuahuas. He was down on the court with his own squad of Cheerleaders. I remembered that there was supposed to be a game of Mascot Basketball at halftime. Chico posed at midcourt for some social media pictures before going to work the crowd. His Cheerleaders handed out some coupons to fans.
I found out over the radio that this game was almost canceled. Bad weather in the Midwest had delayed UMKC’s flight. They got the last plane out of Dallas and arrived in El Paso at 1:00am. The Aggie Women’s game in Kansas City was delayed until Sunday for weather. During warmups, it was hard not to notice one of the Roo players, Josiah Allick. He was a tall white guy with a huge afro.
For the Aggies, at least there were no new injuries to report. However, when I glanced at the paper this morning, I saw that Assistant Coach Corey Barker had been implicated in a scandal from his previous job at TCU. We’ll see what happens about this. Even though NM State didn’t do anything, expect the NCAA to drop the hammer on them and for TCU to get off without any penalty. On court, a Caliches Kids Captain and the ball kids were introduced on camera. The Aggies’ intro video featured lots of three’s and dunks. Johnny McCants’ halfcourt winner was the featured play.
I messed this scorecard up but good. It was printed on nice slick paper, which didn’t erase well. (It was on the back of the flyer image at the top of the post.) Yes, I’m blaming the scorecard. Then I dropped my pencil at half time under the seats in front of me and had to use my pen. Irrevocable mistakes were made. I thought I was doing such a good job too. I had the radio game call on. I was paying attention. They weren’t showing player stats until later in the game. The Pan-Am staff really needs to get their act together. I actually saw a Women’s game on Sunday where the home team got a technical foul called on them before tipoff because they couldn’t get their scoreboard right.
The Aggies got it going with a Johnny McCants’ three and a Trevelin Queen dunk. That’s how to get the crowd into it. The Aggies were also rebounding well at the start. The Roos hit a three and their coach immediately called a timeout. He was furious at them for some reason. Back in play, Jabari Rice made a steal and got it to Trev for a dunk. UMKC hit another three to keep them in it. 12-8 Aggies at the next break.
Evan Gilyard (whose number is wrong on the scorecard) got an assist to Johnny for a slam to make it 17-10. The Aggies though were getting out-rebounded now. At the next timeout, it was 19-12 Aggies (along with a bunch of indecipherable notes). Members of the ’79 Aggie team were honored out on court. A new banner for their NCAA appearance was unveiled. The video screens showed footage of them playing Larry Bird and Indiana State here that year. (I remember that as a kid. The Aggies almost beat them.) The guys got a standing ovation.
The game got a bit physical back in play, as Terrell Brown was hammered driving the lane. The Roos were fouling a lot early, though not as much as I was marking down. It was 25-15 Aggies after ten minutes. The Roos hit a couple of three’s to close in. Terrell was on a mission and hit a three and then a layup. 30-22 Aggies at the next timeout.
The halfcourt putting contest looked really tough. It was a small cutout hole in a standee. The shot wasn’t even close, which made the winning shot on Thursday even more impressive in retrospect. The girl in the red skirt came out to assist with the $5k halfcourt basketball shot challenge. It was another wide miss.
Ivan got a jam to make it 32-24, but the Roos came back. With another three, they got it to 32-30 with three minutes left. In another break, PA Ed announced it was Tony Randazzo’s birthday. He’s a Las Cruces native and an MLB umpire. Trev came back with a steal and a jam on an Aggie run, 40-32. This got the crowd up and cheering for the final minute. 42-33 Aggies at the half.
Mascot Basketball! Over a dozen costumed mascots were introduced out on court. The hawk costume was the most impressive, but I didn’t catch who it was. Pistol Pete, the only one not wearing a large foam outfit, had a decided advantage. Pete mostly passed the ball, because it was funnier watching the other characters shoot. He did make a couple a baskets. Chico ran off with the ball at one point. The Caliches Scoop lost his head. The Sonic Tot played possum and popped up on Chico. It was all good fun, until I dropped my pencil under the seat in the row in front of us.
There were two things I noticed at the start. Trevelin was wearing mismatched shoes. One was red and one was black. It was a bold fashion statement. PA Ed made an announcement thanking the band in attendance. They weren’t the Roadrunner Revue, though they were wearing their hockey sweaters. It was an All-City high school band. They did a good job. Ron said there wasn’t a band at all on Thursday.
Johnny nearly brought down the house with a jam to start the second half. The goal shook as he put it down. Josiah Allick picked up two quick fouls trying to play against Ivan. McCants got a steal to stop a Roo fast break. It was all coming up Aggies. Ivan then got a foul off the ball. The crowd gave the refs a loud boo. Then Gilyard picked up his third foul while taking a charge. The crowd got downright angry. William McNair and CJ Bobbitt came in. CJ had some cool dark blue and orange shoes. (Not sure why he’s wearing UTEP shoes.) It was 48-40 Aggies.
I think over the air, the announcers called McNair “Baby Bear.” He is big. McNair got two blocks and showed some great hustle saving a ball going out. The guys wanted to get him a basket, but caused a turnover trying to pass it to him. McCants and Trev came back in. The Aggies had another bad pass leading to a Roo score. 50-45 Aggies with 11 minutes left. Timeout. Right out of that, Jabari lobbed the inbounds to a jumping Terrell for an instant basket. That was the second time the Aggies had run that play in this game, but with different players. Jabari then got a steal and fed Johnny for an alley oop. This set the crowd off cheering.
The Roos weren’t going away. They hit a three and got a turnover and suddenly we were tied at 54. Ivan came in and put in a couple of layups. 58-54 Aggies with five minutes left. Gilyard dropped in two free throws and Terrell hit a three. The crowd was on its feet with that 9-point run. 63-54 Aggies with four-and-a-half minutes left. The Aggie Cheerleaders did a Pete pyramid with the icon on top during the timeout.
The Roos had some foul issues with their two best players with four fouls each. Trev and Terrell hit a pair of threes as the Roos hit a couple of threes as well. 69-60 Aggies with two minutes left. Gilyard was called for this fourth foul. The crowd was up in arms again. Jabari popped in a three to make it 72-61. He got a block as well afterward.
Again, the Roos hit a three. It was becoming a long distance shooting contest. 72-61 Aggies with one minute left. The Aggies tried to dribble it out. Gilyard fouled out. Coach Jans let out an explicative near the microphone. Jack Nixon quickly apologized. Jordan Giles, high-scorer on the Roos, fouled out right after. During the break, the camera showed a kid dancing with his shirt pulled over his head. The crowd got a good laugh.
Roo Rob Whitfield popped in a three to make it 73-69 with 17 seconds left. The Aggies turned it right over on another bad pass. During the review for possession, the mop boy danced on court. Trev got a big block with 7 seconds left. Shunn Buchanan made one of two free throws after a quick foul. The Roos immediately got a layup. An Aggie turnover gave the Roos one more shot, but it missed. Whew! Our frighteningly close score was 74-71 Aggies.
I was almost afraid to listen to the Coach on the postgame show, but he actually sounded quite depressed. He blamed himself for the way the team finished the game. If they’d lost this one, Coach Jans might have been more animated than depressed. The team had been making mistakes during the game, but really didn’t seem to be paying attention at the end.
Terrell Brown led all scorers with 18 points. I’d say he’s feeling okay. Trevelin Queen had 16, though most of that was in the first half. Jabari Rice had 13 points and a double-double. Ivan Aurrecoechea and Johnny McCants had some critical buckets. I thought I saw Johnny limping a bit at the end of the game. Hopefully I’m wrong. Four Roos players were in double figures.
The coach couldn’t believe the score was so close with the team shooting 62%. He was happy with the rebounds as they were +7. The Aggies also had 21 points off 18 turnovers. The team just needs to play smarter. Perhaps that’s one of the big things they’re missing with AJ Harris and Clayton Henry injured.
With the crowd clearing out, I went down to retrieve my pencil. I found a half bag of kettle corn under the seat too, which I immediately grabbed. Ron gave me a look. Don’t judge me! Hey, it’s kettle corn. It’s not like they give that stuff away either. I don’t know why on earth those people left it. On the way out, we were handed Whataburger coupons, which Ron and I used immediately along with a bunch of other fans. The manager there was super nice after a long wait to get to the register.
For dessert, I used a coupon at PQ Treats. I tried the Peanut Butter Bomb sundae that I’d seen someone else order. It was great, until I got to the bottom where it was just peanut butter. Even if I’d had something to drink with me, it was still too much. I got grossed out and ended up spitting it out in the bathroom. Ron was at least amused.
I’m sure I didn’t feel quite as sick as the Las Cruces Sun-News “editors” when somebody pointed out to them the small misprint in their top of the fold headline about the game. (If you can’t spot it yourself, I can’t help you.) This reminds me of a previous headline where Brian Green was highlighted as the baseball coach of the Lobos (4-16-18). That one required a full page reprint the next day.