UTEP received balanced scoring, and outshooting New Mexico Highlands during a 93-70 season-opening victory.
Efe Odigie scored 20 points and added six rebounds in 22 minutes of action, while Daryl Edwards (17 points), Bryson Williams (17 points), Souley Boum (15 points) and Eric Vila (11 points) each hit double figures during their UTEP debuts in the season opener Tuesday night in the Haskins Center.
“I was pleased with our effort. I thought Efe came in and gave us a great lift when Bryson picked up two early fouls in the first half,” season-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Efe did a great job both offensively and defensively. We’ll have to have guys step and hold the fort down and I thought [Odigie] did that for us with Bryson in foul trouble.”
Vila also recorded his first career double-double in a UTEP uniform, leading with 11 rebounds and coming up short four dimes short of a triple double with six assists.
Returning floor general Jordan Lathon produced a solid all-around game, scoring seven points, grabbing six boards and dishing out five assists. The most important of his stat line was the zero turnovers.
“I thought Jordan had one of his best games. He had zero turnovers and had five assists,” Terry said. “He did a great job quarterbacking our team and did a great job. He made great decisions.”
The Miners opened the game with a 7-0 lead, but New Mexico Highlands answered with an 8-0 run of its own to go up a point (8-7). But that was all the Cowboys could rustle up as the Miners went on an 18-0 run to take a 25-8 lead and never looked back.
“We did a really nice job setting the tone in the first half, defensively,” Terry said. “We rotated over and took a lot of charges. We also did a nice job handling the pressure and scoring behind their pressure.”
NMHU made a run in the second half to get within nine points (71-62) after a Raquan Mitchell three, but UTEP, after a media timeout, outscored the Cowboys, 22-8, to complete the 23-point victory.
“[New Mexico Highlands] came in and played at a very high level,” Terry said. “We knew these weren’t going to be intimidated by us.”
The Miners recorded 15 assists, while making 78.1 percent (25-32) of their free throws. The 25 made free throws matched last season’s high against on Dec. 21 against Norfolk State and against UTPB in the season opener.
The 93 points also surpassed last season’s high of 90 in Terry’s UTEP coaching debut.
Williams tallied seven rebounds and shot 5-of-7 from the field, while making his lone three-point attempt. He made one during his previous two seasons at Fresno State.
Edwards connected on 3-of-4 from downtown as the Miners as a squad went 6-for-14 from beyond the arc.
Overall, UTEP connected on 56.4 percent (31-55) from field, which also surpassed last season’s high of 52.9 percent. The Miners hit the boards hard, outrebounding NMHU, 42-28.
Terry went nine-deep, as the bench scored 36 points on the night. Freshman Deon Stroud scored four points and Anthony Tarke added a pair of made free throws and three rebounds.
Tydus Verhoeven also played nine minutes off the bench.
Mitchell and Sammy Barnes-Thompson each scored 18 point for the Cowboys. Desmond Carpenter added 17 points in the effort. NMHU connected on 11-of-31 three-point field goals.
Up next, the Miners will host rival NM State in the Battle of I-10 November 12. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald Post