UTEP takes on NM State in the rematch of the Battle of I-10 on Friday in Las Cruces. The Aggies won the first meeting between the teams 79-68, on December 13 in El Paso.
UTEP (2-9) and NM State (12-2) are meeting after Christmas for only the second time in 15 years. The first was on Feb. 23, 2013. That game was also played at the Pan American Center. NM State has reeled off 10 victories in a row, tied for the seventh-longest win streak in the country.
UTEP has lost eight in a row, tied for the seventh-longest streak in the nation (both streaks through games of Dec. 28).
With the trip to Las Cruces, the Miners open a season-long four-game road swing. UTEP will play its first three C-USA games away from home at UTSA (Sunday), LA Tech (Jan. 5) and Southern Miss (Jan. 7).
The Miners also have four straight road games on the docket from Feb. 16-25. UTEP hasn’t played four road games in succession since Jan. 27-Feb. 5, 2005.
ABOUT NM STATE
– The Aggies are 9-0 at the Pan American Center this season with an average margin of victory of 17.2 points.
– NM State has won 18 straight at the Pan American Center dating back to December of last year.
– NM State ranks 17th nationally in free throw attempts (355), 19th in free throws made (252) and 30th in three-point field goal percentage defense (.295).
– Junior guard Braxton Huggins is 15th in the NCAA in three-point field goal percentage (.481).
– NM State averages 78.1 ppg with five players averaging double figures in scoring — senior guard Ian Baker (14.7 ppg), Huggins (13.9 ppg), injured sophomore guard Sidy N’Dir (13.7 ppg), junior forward Jemerrio Jones (10.9 ppg) and sophomore forward Eli Chuha (10.6 ppg).
– Chuha and Jones average 8.1 and 7.9 rebounds respectively.
– NM State leads the series 109-103.
– The Aggies have won seven of the last eight games between the long-time rivals.
– This is the 100th meeting between the teams in Las Cruces (NMSU leads 59-40) and the 50th at the Pan American Center (NMSU leads 28-21).
– UTEP’s last win in Las Cruces was on Nov. 30, 2010 (74-72).
THE LAST MEETING
– Ian Baker scored five of his game-high 20 points during an 11-0 run midway through the first half, leading NM State to a 79-68 victory at UTEP on Dec. 13.
– UTEP was down 9-2 early, but pulled within one (15-14) on a jumper by Omega Harris with 11:57 remaining in the half before Jermaine Haley started the 11-0 spurt with a three-pointer. By the time it ended, the Miners were down 26-14 and they trailed by double digits most of the remainder of the game.
– The deficit reached 20 five minutes into the second half and a late rally – triggered by freshman Tim Cameron with a pair of three-point plays – came up short.
– The Aggies shot 62.5 percent in the first half and 54.9 percent on the night, and outrebounded the Miners 38-28.
– Jemarrio Jones had 18 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for NMSU, and Eli Chuha added 11 points and eight rebounds.
– Harris led the Miners with 18 points, and Dominic Artis scored 15 points with nine assists.
LAST GAME: UC IRVINE 62, UTEP 57
– A new zone defense kept the Miners in the game, but they came out on the short end of the scoreboard as UC Irvine squeaked out a 62-57 victory on day two of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Dec. 22.
– The Miners held the Anteaters to 36 percent shooting.
– UTEP took a 36-35 lead early in the second half before Irvine’s Jaron Martin hit four three pointers in a span of two minutes. That put the Anteaters ahead 44-38 and left the Miners playing from behind for much of the rest of the game.
– UTEP did tie it once, at 49-all with 4:41 to go, but Martin struck again with two free throws and a three-pointer to push the lead to 54-49. The other backbreaker came with 29 seconds remaining, when Irvine’s Eyassu Worku hit a jumper to stretch a two-point lead (56-54) to four.
– Martin hit six threes and scored 22 points for UC Irvine. The Anteaters outrebounded the Miners 43-24 behind Ioannis Dimakopoulos’ double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds).
– Omega Harris scored 19 points and Dominic Artis added 14 for the Miners, who once again battled heavy foul trouble. They were whistled for 26 fouls in all, with Kelvin Jones, Paul Thomas and Matt Willms all failing to make it to the finish line.
MINERS IN THE NCAA STATS
– Dominic Artis was sixth in the nation in assists (7.5 apg), 15th in minutes (36.4 mpg) and 16th in steals (2.4 spg) through Dec. 28.
– Omega Harris was 27th in minutes per game (35.6).
– UTEP is one of five schools with two players ranked in the nation’s top-30 in minutes. The others are Connecticut, Portland, Santa Clara and St. Bonaventure.
– Artis is the only player in the country averaging at least 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
National Assist Leaders (Through Dec. 28)
1. Maurice Watson Jr. (Creighton) 9.1 apg
2. Lonzo Ball (UCLA) 8.1 apg
3. Jaaron Simmons (Ohio) 7.8 apg
4. Kyron Cartwright (Providence) 7.6 apg
Siyani Chambers (Harvard) 7.6 apg
6. Dominic Artis (UTEP) 7.5 apg