Pascal Siakam collected 24 points and 23 rebounds, and NM State built a big lead early in the first half en route to a 73-59 win over UTEP on Wednesday at the Pan American Center.
The Aggies (5-2) scored the game’s first 10 points and led 20-4 seven minutes into the game. The Miners cut it to four twice late in the first half and trailed 36-28 at the break.
UTEP, which lost for the first time in seven games, fell behind by 10 points (38-28) early in the second half. The Miners mounted another rally, pulling within four (51-47) on a three-pointer by Earvin Morris with 10:51 to play. But the Aggies scored eight of the next 10 points and were in control the rest of the night.
“The Aggies were a better team tonight than we were in all areas of the game,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We have had our rebounding woes. We got dominated last Saturday [against Colorado State] and were able to win a ball game. It didn’t quite work like that tonight. Siakam had 23 boards and our team had 27. Until that mentality changes with our team, including our guards who need to go back and rebound the ball to help us, we’re going to continue to have these kinds of struggles.”
Ian Baker scored 22 points for NMSU and made five of the Aggies’ six three-point field goals.
Dominic Artis led UTEP with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. Lee Moore scored 12 points and Morris added 11, although they were a combined 7-for-24 from the field.
“I thought our shot selection was very questionable, even early in the game to late in the game,” Floyd said. “We only had three turnovers at the half and I thought, ‘Maybe we have a chance.’ But when we cut it to four a couple of times we came down and turned it over on back-to-back trips, and then we took back-to-back bad shots which are like turnovers. I credit the Aggies for putting us in those situations. They were more dominant than us inside tonight. I thought that they played through their bigs and really did a great job.”
The Miners were outrebounded 50-27, including 18-4 on the offensive glass. The Aggies outscored UTEP 32-10 in the paint and 17-1 on second chance points.
Matt Taylor had a near double-double for NMSU with nine points and nine boards. The Aggies shot 43.3 percent to UTEP’s 40.7.
“The first possession of the game we came out and we were going to go double off of Taylor,” Floyd said. “We had Taylor take the shot, the guy we wanted to take the shot, and they went back and rebounded over the top of us and put it in. It was like that throughout the entire game. Very frustrating. Credit to the Aggies, who I think have got an NBA player in Siakam. I was in that league for eight years and he looks the part. We recognized that going into the game, the problem was we couldn’t do anything about it.”
The rematch is on Dec. 19 at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners will host a UT Arlington team that has won at Ohio State and Memphis, and lost in overtime at Texas, on Saturday. Tip-off is 7:05 p.m.
Author: UTEP Athletics