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New Mexico State Wins: May Not Need Watson After All

After losing Tyrone Watson to an indefinite suspension, it looks like a season may be in danger for the Aggies - but if you look closer at the numbers, they may not even skip a beat.

Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

It was reported earlier today that New Mexico State would be without senior forward Tyrone Watson for an unknown period of time, as he was being suspended indefinitely pending the resolution of an assault and battery case in which he is the only suspect (and four witnesses identified him).

Upon hearing of this news, NBCSports' Raphielle Johnson wondered if this would be "the second team to see its WAC title hopes dashed due to personnel issues" after Utah State lost two of their top three scorers (and are trying to avoid their fourth straight loss as we speak).

After tonight, the Aggies likely confirmed what I already believed - that they may not even skip a beat, let alone have their conference title hopes ruined. I understand that Watson is one of only two seniors and therefore somewhat of a leader for the team.

That said, how much of a leader can you be when you aren't one of the three best players on your team? Sure, Watson entered tonight second on the team in points, and his 2.9 assists per game actually led the team, but he was fourth or worse in every other offensive category - and that's only counting players receiving significant minutes.

Fellow senior Banja Sy was only averaging 10.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for the season, but in the past seven games (where the Aggies are 7-0) he was averaging 17 and 8, and tonight against Texas State he went nutty, posting 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Freshman Sim Bhullar's growth will also render Watson's absence a moot point. After averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds per game over the team's first 11 games, he went off for 25 points against Missouri State and is now averaging 12 and 7 over the last 11 games, including 10 and 9 tonight.

So much for "Sim Bhullar is averaging 9.8 points per game but the 7-5 center isn't a player the Aggies are going to ask to be an offensive force at this stage in his career." He doesn't need to be a force, he just needs to maintain his progression.

Bhullar, Sy, Dan Mullins and crew are replacing Tyrone Watson, not Tyrone (Muggsy) Bogues, and they play in a conference full of very beatable teams, as they showed tonight with their 86-72 dominance of Texas State. The Aggies do not play Louisiana Tech again until the end of the season, and that game will decide the WAC champion, with or without Watson.