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Utah Valley knocks off New Mexico State, handing Aggies first WAC loss of season

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OREM — Kenneth Ogbe scored a game-high 22 points and the Utah Valley men's basketball team shot a blistering 58 percent from the field to knock off league-leading New Mexico State, 86-79, at the UCCU Center on Thursday night.

The Wolverines (18-8, 7-3 Western Athletic) handed the Aggies their first loss in WAC play.

"We went out all today. That's what we did," Ogbe said. "We gave 100 percent and it just feels to good to come into the locker and know that you gave it your all. And that's what we did today."

New Mexico State had its 11-game winning streak snapped and suffered its first conference loss of the season (9-1).

In a game that was much different than the Jan. 20 meeting in Las Cruces, New Mexico, both New Mexico State and UVU couldn't miss. Both teams shot well above the equator with the biggest difference at the foul line. The Wolverines were 19-of-21 from the charity stripe compared to 9-of-15 for New Mexico State.

Jemerrio Jones gave New Mexico State a 19-12 lead, the largest of the game for the Aggies, with 9:42 to play in the first half.

However, UVU responded with a 15-5 run over the next four mintues to take a 27-24 lead with 5:37 until the half capped off by a jumper from senior guard Brandon Randolph.

The game went back and forth with UVU taking a 41-37 lead into halftime.

"My team, from top to bottom, felt that urgency, wanted to play hard," UVU coach Mark Pope said. "They wanted to get every rebound against a team that is great. ... They are top rebounding team in the country. They are monsters ... and my guys hung in there and battled. I'm really proud of them."

In the second half, leading candidate for WAC Player of the Year Zach Lofton got going. The graduate transfer scored 17 of his team-high 19 points in the second.

However, the UVU defense never let the Aggies get away. New Mexico State took a 68-66 lead on AJ Harris' jumper with 5:45 to play.

But UVU responded with a 10-0 run thanks to 3-pointers by Ogbe and Conner Toolson and capped off with a highlight-reel, spin-cycle layup that gave the Wolverines a 76-68 lead with 3:25 to play.

Jemerrio Jones cut the deficit to four on a layup with 1:53 to play but another 3-pointer and a monster dunk by Ogbe with 1:11 to play put the statement on a huge win for UVU.

Randolph and Jerrelle DeBerry combined to go 5-of-6 from the free throw line down the strech and UVU never let New Mexico State get a good look to seal the deal.

Randolph finished with 17 points while Jake Toolson and DeBerry each finished with 14 points and Conner Toolson finished with 10 points for the Wolverines.

Along with Lofton's team-high 19 points, Sidy N'Dir and Harris were each in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

UVU hit 11 3-pointers on the night while New Mexico State hit eight. The Wolverines also outrebounded the Aggies, 27-25. Jemerrio Jones didn't record double-digit rebounds despite averaging over 12 rebounds per game coming in and having three straight games with 20-plus rebounds.

Next up for the Wolverines is a home game on Saturday night against UT Rio Grande Valley while New Mexico State heads to the Pacific Northwest to take on Seattle University.

Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

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