Mississippi State Fast Break: Bulldogs Hire Chris Jans Of New Mexico State As New Basketball Coach

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The NCAA Tournament is viewed so highly by athletic directors that just getting there or losing early still warrants a new job.

Mississippi State became the second Southeastern Conference school in three days to hire a basketball coach fresh off an NCAA Tournament loss.

State athletic director John Cohen announced the hiring of New Mexico State coach Chris Jans on Sunday to replace Ben Howland, who was let go just over a week ago as first reported by OutKick. Howland agreed to finish out the season in the NIT, and State was eliminated from that last Wednesday. But coaches had been inquiring about the opening State job during the SEC Tournament that concluded on March 13.

Jans’ No. 12 seeded New Mexico State team lost on Saturday to No. 4 seed Arkansas, 53-48, in Buffalo, N.Y., finishing the season 27-7. New Mexico State upset No. 5 seed Connecticut, 70-63, on Thursday.

Jans, 52, took his Aggies to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and ’19 with teams that finished 28-6 and 30-5 after first round losses. New Mexico State won the Western Athletic Conference under Jans in 2018 at 12-2, in ’19 at 15-1 and in ’20 at 16-0 before sharing the crown this past season at 14-4. He is a three-time WAC coach of the year.

“Coach Jans is a proven leader and winner, who is considered by many to be one of the top coaches in the game,” Cohen said. “His overall resume speaks for itself. Throughout our thorough research, what stood out about coach Jans was his culture of accountability, hard working mentality, emphasis on player development and vision for the future.”

On Friday, Florida hired San Francisco coach Todd Golden, whose No. 10 seeded team had just lost to No. 7 seed Murray State, 92-87, in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night in Indianapolis. Murray State coach Matt McMahon, who lost Saturday to Saint Peter’s, is considered a candidate for the remaining open SEC jobs at South Carolina and LSU. Missouri was apparently closing in on hiring Cleveland State coach Dennis Gates on Saturday and Sunday.

Jans previously was a head coach in the 2014-15 season at Bowling Green, where he went 21-12 and 11-7. He was an assistant from 2015-17 at Wichita State, where he also was an assistant from 2007-14. Wichita State reached the Final Four in 2013 as a No. 9 seed and finished 30-9. Jans was a junior college coach at Kirkwood, Independence, Howard and Chipola in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“He is a tireless recruiter and brilliant Xs and Os tactician,” Cohen said.

State announced that Howland was not returning for the 2021-22 season just last Thursday, leaving Cohen “officially” three days for his “thorough research.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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