LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KTSM) – In its first game since forward Mike Peake was involved in a deadly shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico State beat San Diego 90-77 in its first game of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Friday night.
The Aggies got 25 points and eight assists from Xavier Pinson as five players scored in double figures. Quaye Gordon had 16 points, Doctor Bradley had 15 points and eight rebounds on 7-7 from the floor, Issa Muhammad had 14 points and DeShawndre Washington had 11 points and nine assists.
New Mexico State did not hold its usual postgame Zoom press conference that it has done for road games since the 2020-21 season. However, head coach Greg Heiar spoke to the Aggies’ radio broadcast after the game and alluded to the events of last Saturday that left a UNM student dead and Peake injured.
“I was really glad to see how the team responded. Obviously, we had an extremely difficult week,” Heiar said. “I’m really proud of how they’ve rallied. I was really nervous going into this game because you never know how a team is going to respond and they all responded.”
NMSU hadn’t played a game since Nov. 12 at UTEP, after its Nov. 19 game vs. New Mexico was cancelled due to a shooting involving Peake in the early morning hours of last Saturday.
As KTSM has reported, New Mexico State Police allege that Peake was lured to UNM’s campus by a 17-year-old female UNM student, where three male UNM students were waiting to assault him. Police say the plan was meant as retribution for a fight at the Oct. 15 UNM-NMSU football game that involved Peake, other NMSU student athletes and the UNM students who wanted revenge.
Once Peake was on campus, police say 19-year-old Brandon Travis fired a gun at Peake, at which time Peake fired back, killing Travis. Peake was injured in the process and is still hospitalized.
During a tumultuous week that saw two people be arrested for their roles in the lead-up to the shooting and the UNM-NMSU men’s basketball series get cancelled for the 2022-23 season, NMSU kept quiet as to what kind of punishment it might dole out to other players on the team.
Multiple NMSU players were out past curfew the night Peake was shot, but they were not with him according to NMSU. Every Aggie player made the trip to Las Vegas for the tournament and all players that were expected to see action got on the court on Friday night. Heiar and his full coaching staff also appeared to be in attendance.
New Mexico State got off to a 16-4 lead at the first media timeout of the first half. From there, the Aggies continued their red-hot performance from the field, knocking down 12 three-pointers and hitting on 54.5% of its shots.
With the win, the Aggies will face UC-Irvine in the finals of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at 7:30 p.m. MT on Saturday night.