Bryson Williams scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half and Jordan Lathon tallied 13 points as the duo led UTEP to a 65-50 victory over NM State in the Battle of I-10 Tuesday night in a loud and electric Don Haskins Center.
The Miners outscored the Aggies 37-25 that led to their first victory in nine tries. Prior to Tuesday night, the last victory came on Nov. 22, 2014.
“I thought our guys did a nice job,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Our coaches had our guys prepared in terms of their actions and what they like to run. I thought our guys, for the better part of the game, did a good job competing and following the scouting report.”
The Miners (2-0) and Aggies (1-1) were neck-and-neck until Lathon connected on a three-pointer at the 3:36 mark in the first half, while Daryl Edwards hit one of his own at the 2:37 mark to give their squad a 28-21 lead.
However, the Aggies responded with a 4-0 run to finish the first half and finding themselves down by only three points (28-25) heading into the locker room. NM State had recorded nine offensive rebounds in the first half, as it outrebounded UTEP by seven (24-17).
The Aggies came out of the tunnel and started with a Johnny McCants’s layup to get within a point (28-27), but that was the closest they would get.
Williams would go on to score the next four points to put the Miners up 32-27 early in the second half. Trevelin Queen answered with a three-pointer to quiet the announced crowd of 8,993, but back-to-back layups by Edwards and Eric Vila upped the lead to six points (36-30) at the 15:22 mark.
“You have to come out in the first four minutes [of the second half] and try to set the tone, especially on defense,” Terry said. “Defense, a lot of the times, is all activity and energy. When you come out with that mindset, you start the halves the way you need to. You have to be a team to start the second half well and finish the second half well. We didn’t do a great job finishing the first half. The last couple possessions weren’t great for us offensively and defensively.”
After Queen hit another three to make the count 38-34, UTEP used a 9-0 run that started with two made free throws by Efe Odigie and ended with a Lathon layup. The Miners went up 47-34 at the point of the game (9:16) and never looked back.
Williams led UTEP with eight rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Williams sat most of the beginning of the second half after finding himself in foul trouble. Lathon paced the squad with a trio of steals – all in the second half. All three of Lathon’s steals led to six points for the Miners.
Edwards chipped in with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, while tallying three rebounds, a blocked shot and two assists. Souley Boum and Vila each recorded seven points, while Vila added six boards and three assists. Odigie scored five points, going 3-of-4 from the charity stripe and dishing out three assists, tying his career best.
Tydus Verhoeven played seven minutes, and scored his first points as a Miner while grabbing three rebounds.
UTEP shot 46.9 percent (23-49), while making 76.2 percent (16-21) of its free throws. The Miners cut down their turnover from last Tuesday’s 20 to only 12 a week later.
The loud and raucous crowd may have distracted NM State, as it shot 18.2 percent (2-11) from the free-throw line. The Aggies also shot 36.8 percent from the field as the Miners harassed them all night. Queen paced NM State with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting, while Terrell Brown recorded 10 points and led the team with eight rebounds.
Up next, UTEP will host Eastern New Mexico on Friday, Nov. 15. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
Gallery by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post