UTEP hung tough early with league-leading Middle Tennessee before the visitors found another level in an eventual 79-49 defeat Saturday afternoon at the Don Haskins Center.
“I want to give a shout out to our unbelievable fans,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We came out of the tunnel in the second half. They lifted our players and were encouraging. This is why UTEP is a special place. It’s tough for us, for our players but we can find things in the second half that we can build on.”
The Miners (4-14, 1-4 C-USA) trailed by just four (14-10) with 4:31 to play in the first quarter only to have the Blue Raiders (15-4, 6-0 C-USA) rip off a 36-7 half-closing run to head into the locker room armed with a 50-17 advantage.
To its credit, UTEP continued to battle after the break and was rewarded by outscoring the first place team in the league, 32-29, over the final 20 minutes.
Zuzanna Puc (17 points) and Jordan Alexander (14 points) reached double digits in scoring for the Miners, who were plagued by an off shooting day. UTEP finished at 28.6 percent (12-42) from the floor in the contest. MT cooled off in the second half but still finished at 44.4 percent (26-63) for the game. The visitors also drained 11 3-pointers to the Miners’ four triples.
UTEP committed only 11 turnovers and was credited with nine helpers on its 12 made field goals. Puc pulled down a team-high eight rebounds while Jade Rochelle (six) and Alexa Hoy (career-high five) also got involved on the glass.
MT was led by A’Queen Hayes, who finished with a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds). Alexis Whittington (13 points) and Taylor Sutton (10 points) also reached double figures for the Blue Raiders.
MT set the tone early by peeling off seven straight points to start the ballgame. UTEP countered by tallying seven of the next points in the contest, cutting the margin to two (9-7) with 6:55 left in the first quarter. After a mini 5-0 run from the Blue Raiders, the Orange and Blue used a free throw from Puc and a jumper by Alexander to get within four (14-10) with 4:31 remaining in the opening stanza. It took a turn from that point on, with MT outscoring UTEP, 16-3, to close out the period and put the Miners down by 17 (30-13) after 10 minutes of action.
UTEP moved the ball effectively on offense in the second quarter to create some good looks, but just couldn’t get them to fall. It was a different story for MT, which continued to click on all cylinders on the way to leading by 33 (50-17) heading into halftime. The visitors shot a ridiculous 66.7 percent (20-30) over the first 20 minutes.
The Blue Raiders opened up the third quarter on a 7-0 push, making it a 40-point tilt (57-17) with 7:04 to play in the third quarter. Rochelle drilled a jumper to end the surge, and it was back-and-forth the rest of the period, with MT only managing to extend its halftime cushion by two as the contest swung into the final frame.
The home side enjoyed its finest moments of the contest in the fourth quarter. The Miners nailed 55.6 percent (5-9) from the floor in the frame, including 4-4 on treys, while also sinking 10 free throws on the way to piling up 24 points in the final 10 minutes of action against the top scoring defense in C-USA. Puc led the charge, tallying 12 of her team-high 17 points in the period. She was 3-3 from distance in the final quarter (3-6 for the game), an amazing feat considering she entered the contest having gone 2-16 on triples this season.
UTEP heads back on the road with a cross-country trip for a pair of match-ups in the Eastern Time Zone. Up first is a 9 a.m. MT/11 a.m. ET game at Old Dominion on Thursday, with the special tipoff time due to it an “Education Day” promotion. The Miners will then conclude a stretch of playing five of their first seven league contests on the road with a tilt at Charlotte at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET on January 26. Both contests will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Brandon Cohn on the call.
Junior Zuzanna Puc notched her fourth double-double (11 points, career-high 13 rebounds) of the year while sophomore Alexa Hoy joined her in double figures (team-high 13 points) but UTEP couldn’t sustain a strong start in a 74-48 setback to preseason league favorite UAB at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.
“I’m proud of our team for coming out and playing so well (in the first quarter),” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We were toe-to-toe with them (14-13), and I couldn’t have been prouder. We could not throw it in there in the second quarter. We played them to one point in the third and six points in the fourth. Our battled and yet again a sophomore led us in scoring. I saw so many positives out there that we can build on. My hat is off to Randy (Norton) and UAB. They’re every good as you need to be to to win the conference.”
The Miners (4-13, 1-3 C-USA) got off to a much-needed good start, leading by seven (11-4) with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter. The Blazers (16-2, 4-1 C-USA) regrouped and struck back in the form of a 34-6 run to suddenly surge out by 21 (38-17) late in the opening half. The home side played hard the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.
UTEP was hindered by an off shooting night, finishing at a season-low 26.6 percent (17-64) from the floor. It was a different story for the Blazers, who connected on 44.8 percent (26-57) of their shots. UAB also was locked in from distance, nailing 13-29 (44.8 percent) from beyond-the-arc.
The Orange and Blue tried to make up for that by taking good care of the ball (12 turnovers), winning the boards (42-38), enjoying a 21-0 margin in second-chance points and a 28-22 differential in points in the paint but it wasn’t enough. Jade Rochelle came off the bench to tally nine points while also grabbing six boards, buoying the efforts of Puc and Hoy.
Rachael Childress (18 points), Lea Kerstein (16 points) and Katelynn Thomas (16 points) led the charge for the visitors while Deanna Kuzmanic added eight points. It marked the 13th consecutive road win in C-USA play for the defending regular-season league champions.
UTEP bucked its recent trend of sluggish starts by jumping out to an 8-2 advantage of the first five minutes of the contest, forcing visiting UAB to call timeout. It was a balanced approach in the stretch for UTEP, with four different Miners scoring. The Blazers got a jumper from Kuzmanic to go out of their timeout, but Hoy countered immediately with a triple off a feed from Rochelle.
The bucket afforded the Orange and Blue a seven-point cushion (11-4) with 3:49 left in the quarter. UAB regrouped, closing the frame on a 10-2 push to grab a one-point edge (14-13) through 10 minutes of action.
Puc split a pair of free throws early on in the second frame, resulting in the first time of the tilt. Much to the chagrin of the Miner faithful, the visitors peeled off the next eight points. Puc made a lay-up to halt the sequence, only to have UAB rip off 11 consecutive points to put the Miners down by 17 (33-16) with 3:03 remaining in the frame.
It was back-and-forth the final three minutes, with UTEP forced to head into the locker room down by 19 (38-19).
The Orange and Blue turned in an extremely competitive second half, with UAB only holding a +7 margin (36-29) over the final 20 minutes of action. Aiding that was holding the Blazers to 33.3 percent (5-15) shooting in the third quarter, including 16.7 percent (1-6) on 3-point tries in that frame.
UTEP wraps up its mini two-game homestand by playing host to Middle Tennessee at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234. Additionally, all popcorn will be $1 in honor of “National Popcorn Day.”
BIRMINGHAM, Al. – Evan Gilyard scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half, giving UTEP a halftime lead. But UAB outscored the Miners, 47-31, in the second half and claimed a 76-63 victory on Thursday night in Bartow Arena.
“We didn’t start the second half the right way and we really didn’t close the first right and gave up a bad play to end the half,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Then we weren’t ready in the first four minutes of the second half for whatever reason at the level of intensity you have to have on the road. We let a couple 50-50 balls get away from us and we gave them some easy baskets.”
The Miners (6-10, 1-4 Conference USA) got off to a blazing start, going up 13-2 in the first four minutes of the contest. However, the Blazers (11-7, 3-2 C-USA) answered with a 14-0 run to take a 16-13 lead at the 10:09 mark.
Efe Odigie ended the run with a two-point bucket in the paint, while the Miners finished the first half on a 19-13 run to take a 32-29 halftime lead. At one point, the Miners had a 32-27 lead and possession of the ball with second remaining in the first half, but a turnover led to a UAB bucket right before the buzzer.
The Blazers outscored the Miners 10-4 and took a three-point lead at the 13:32 mark after an explosive dunk by Tavin Lovan. Makhtar Gueye followd with a jumper, giving his squad a 41-36 lead and never looked back.
Gilyard was on fire in the first half, scoring on 6-for-12 shooting, including a 4-for-6 effort from downtown.
Odigie registered his seventh career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Nigel Hawkins scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, while lead the team with four assists. Jordan Lathon tallied seven points and seven rebounds.
The Blazers took control in the second half, going up as many as 17 points. UAB outrebounded UTEP, 34-26, while the Blazers only turned the ball over 10 times.
Lewis Sullivan led UAB with 18 points, while Zack Bryant and Lovan each chipped in with 14 points.
UTEP will play at Middle Tennessee (4-14, 1-4 C-USA) Jan. 19. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. MT in the Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders are coming off an 89-86 win against UTSA, handing the Roadrunners their first league loss of the season in Murfreesboro.
The UTEP women’s basketball team (4-12, 1-2 C-USA) will open up the home portion of its Conference USA slate by welcoming preseason favorite and defending regular-season champion UAB (15-2, 3-1 C-USA) to the Don Haskins Center for a match-up at 7 p.m.
“UAB will be a good challenge for us. They are the defending Conference USA champions and they are playing at a level high enough to repeat last year’s accomplishment. They are very well coached and shoot the ball extremely well from the perimeter. We will need have great game to be able to beat them, but I am confident that our team is on the verge of turning the corner. A win over UAB would get us back on track in a hurry,” head coach Kevin Baker said.
The Miners will be looking to snap a two-game skid, having fallen most recently at Rice, 76-42, on January 12. The Blazers are coming off a 71-60 vanquishing of Southern Miss on January 12.
UTEP will be playing at home for the first time since Dec. 9, as it has had seven straight (five road, two neutral) contests outside of El Paso. The Miners are 2-5 on the year in the Don Haskins Center, with the first four losses by four points or less. The Blazers are 6-0 on the road, including 2-0 within C-USA action.
UAB has won 12 straight C-USA road contests, with its last such defeat coming at Middle Tennessee (87-56), on February 26, 2017.
Thursday’s contest marks the second of three straight games against the teams voted in the top three of the C-USA preseason poll. The stretch started with a 76-42 loss at Rice (picked second) on January 12.
It continues this week at home with the match-ups against UAB (preseason favorite) and Middle Tennessee (picked third, 1 p.m. MT Saturday). Those teams are living up to the hype by sporting a combined record of 41-9 on the campaign, including 11-1 in league play.
UAB has a 10-9 edge in the series with the Miners, but UTEP has a 4-3 advantage when playing in El Paso. The two squads played a pair of games last season, with the Blazers winning both.
UAB toppled the Orange and Blue, 84-64, in El Paso on February 2, 2018, and then ended the Miners’ season with a 75-66 result in the quarterfinals of the 2018 C-USA Championships on March 8, 2018.
This is the first of two scheduled meetings on the campaign, with UTEP making the trip to Birmingham, Ala., on March 2. Additionally, the programs have locked up in the league tournament in five of the past seven campaigns. UAB won the first meeting ever between the programs, 61-41, on December 20, 1990.
The two squads did not square off again until the 2005-06 season when UTEP joined C-USA.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling 915-747-5234. It’s a two-for-one special this week, as fans who buy a single-game ticket for UTEP vs. UAB will receive a free ticket for the Miners’ match-up against Middle Tennessee 1 p.m. MT Saturday.
Additionally, the first 500 fans on Thursday will also receive a free drawstring bag.
The game will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Steve Kaplowitz and Traci Miller on the call. There will also be a live stream on CUSAtv.com (subscription based).
DALLAS – UTEP guard Nigel Hawkins, who scored a career-high 24 points in UTEP’s dramatic 65-64 triumph on January 12, was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week presented by Top of the World and chosen by a vote from a media panel representing the 14-member schools.
Hawkins also produced career bests in made field goals (9-for-13) and shooting percentage (64.3), while chipping in with seven rebounds and an assist against the Owls. The Houston native also went 3-for-5 from three-point range and 3-for-4 from charity stripe.
Overall, Hawkins averaged 17.5 points per game, with 5.0 rebounds per contest and posted four assists during the Miners’ two contests last week. Hawkins shot 14-for-25 (56.0 percent) from the field, including a 4-for-8 effort from downtown and a 3-for-4 performance from the free-throw line.
On January 10, against North Texas, Hawkins scored 11 points and tallied three rebounds and three assists.
Hawkins has started in all 13 games played this season. The freshman ranks third on the team in scoring (11.9 ppg) and is averaging 4.8 rebounds. He’s dished out 23 assists, with five blocked shots and 11 steals.
For Hawkins, it’s his first FOTW honor, while it’s the fourth overall for the UTEP basketball program in 2018-19. Efe Odigie has earned it twice (Nov. 26, Dec. 24) and Jordan Lathon on Dec. 3. The Miners earned six FOTW honors in 2013-14 (Vince Hunter [five], Matt Willms [one]) and five in 2011-12 (Julian Washburn [four], Cedrick Lang [one]).
It’s also the first time in program history that a trio of UTEP freshmen have earned a FOTW honor.
Jordan Lathon hit the game-winning jumper as time expired, lifting the UTEP Miners in an exciting, 65-64, triumph over Rice on Saturday night in the Don Haskins Center.
“Just the way we drew it up. First off want to say we probably wouldn’t have gotten this done tonight if we didn’t have the support behind us. Miner nation was great,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “The crowd gave us a lot of energy. We didn’t come out with a lot of pop to start. I don’t know what that was for, we just didn’t have a lot of energy to start the ball game, but our crowd really stayed behind us, and was really the difference in the game.”
Lathon finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, a team-high five assists, a blocked shot and two steals, helping the Miners (6-9, 1-3 C-USA) to their first Conference USA victory of the season.
The Owls’ Trey Murphy III had put his squad up 64-63 after he grabbed an offensive rebound and connected on a three-point bucket with 1.6 second left on the clock.
“I just knew we had to get a shot up,” Lathon said. “I started to make shots in the ball game and my confidence went up. I didn’t know we’d get another opportunity after [Murphy III] made that shot. It kind of hurt us. But we stayed together and we grew as a team tonight.”
Ountae Campbell’s first pass attempt was deflected out of bounds in the corner, taking time off the clock. Campbell, from the bottom corner and with .5 seconds remaining, threw the ball to an open Lathon. The ball took one bounce, Lathon grabbed it and nailed the jumper from the baseline just inside the three-point line.
“We were set up for our home run play, and Ountae was going to be the guy to make the pass for us,” Terry said. “They put a big guy on the ball just like you are supposed to. A lot of times you would like to have a big guy who is your homerun passer, but in that situation, we didn’t really have anyone other than him that could do that for us. Once the deflection happened it changed the angle of where we were taking the ball out. We were still trying to run the same play, but as the ball changed I told Ountae to throw it down the side.”
Lathon was mobbed by his teammates, coaches and fans while the referees looked at the play on the monitor. The refs declared the shot good, electrifying the Haskins Center and giving Terry his first league win as UTEP’s head coach.
The Miners found themselves down 17 points (25-8) at the 9:24 mark as the Owls (7-11, 2-3 C-USA) connected on seven three pointers during that stretch to start the contest. With the score tied 5-5, Rice proceeded to go on a 17-1 run, making the count 22-6.
A layup by UTEP’s other freshman star Nigel Hawkins made the score 25-10 that set the tone for the remainder of the first half. The Miners would go to the locker room only down five points (34-29).
Hawkins finished with a career-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and chipped in with seven boards and an assist. Hawkins also went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle between the two Texas rivals as the lead changed seven times. UTEP outscored Rice 8-2 on second chance points during the second period.
Lathon started a bit slow, scoring six points in the first half. But the Grandview, Mo., native and big Kansas City Chiefs fan, found his groove in the second half. Lathon hit the second of his three treys at the 14:06 mark to tie the contest 42-42. Lathon then gave the Miners a 49-47 lead with his third made three-point bucket at the 11:40 mark. He was a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown.
The Owls, prior to leading the ball game after Murphy III’s three-pointer, took a 56-52 lead with just over six minutes remaining. A made free throw by Hawkins and a three-point basket by Evan Gilyard tied the game 56-56 with 5:08 remaining to set up the drama for the 4,300-plus in the Bear’s Den.
Gilyard finished with 12 points, four rebounds and a steal. Campbell came off the bench, finished the game, and scored four points and tallied two assists, including the pass to Lathon. Efe Odigie grabbed nine rebounds and chipped in with six points, while Kobe Magee tallied two points and an assist.
The Miners outshot the Owls, 44.6 percent (25-56) to 36.7 percent (22-60). Rice was 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and outrebounded UTEP, 39-38.
“[Rice is] a team that makes nine threes a game, and they made 13 in the game tonight,” Terry said. “They shot 31 you know, so we knew coming in shooting defense was really big. If we could take their threes away then we really liked our chances in terms of what we needed to do. Give them a lot of credit they kept battling, and made it a tough ball game for us.”
Jack Williams made big shots for Rice, as he led his squad with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Robert Martin finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. They were the first to post a double-double against the Miners this season.
Up next, the Miners will hit the road for contests at UAB on Jan. 17 (6 p.m. MT) and Middle Tennessee on Jan. 19 (4 p.m. MT).
Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald Post
With UTEP down two points on a pair of occasions with under three minutes, North Texas redshirt freshman Umoja Gibson connected on a pair of late three-point buckets as the Mean Green (16-1, 3-0 Conference USA) got by the Miners (5-9, 0-3 C-USA), 58-51, on Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center.
“The fifty-fifty balls were critical for us. We knew coming in that this was a team that thrives on fifty-fifty balls. This team here that we played tonight they really understand what it takes to win. They have gotten a taste of it so they know what it’s all about,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said.
“Right now, we have a small margin of error in terms of whether or not we don’t come up with the possession or we miss a layup. Those are really deflating plays for us right now because of where we are. You know our guys competed, and I cannot fault our effort. The one thing that I want our guys to stay dialed in is that we are right there in critical times you can’t have your hand down on a guy that we know can shoot the basketball. You have to be bought in 100 percent, and our guys are learning right now the process of what it’s going to take to win.”
UTEP fell down by as many as 13 points at the 13:34 mark of the second half, but kept battling all night. UTEP held UNT to its second lowest point total of the season and fewest first half points. The Miners also blocked a season-high eight shots.
The two squads went into the locker room tied 22-22, but North Texas outscored UTEP, 36-29, during the second period, shooting over 55 percent (5-9) from downtown after a 1-for-6 outing in the first.
Freshman Jordan Lathon made his way back into the starting lineup after missing a pair of games due to a hamstring injury. Lathon responded with nine points, four rebounds and a game-high four assists. With the score 53-48, Lathon came up with a clutch trey at the 1:49 mark to get his squad within two points (53-51).
Gibson, after starting the game 2-for-6, connected on a three at the 2:12 mark after Efe Odigie hit a jumper to make the score 50-48. Gibson then answered Lathon’s three with another to put the game away and the Mean Green up by five points (56-51) with just over a minute remaining in the ball game.
Odigie blocked a career-high four shots, while leading the Miners with 13 points and eight rebounds. Nigel Hawkins scored 11 points, while tallying three rebounds and three assists. Evan Gilyard was held to single digits (eight points), but grabbed six boards. Ountae Campbell played 21 minutes off the bench, scoring five points and dishing out three assists. Kaosi Ezeagu played 14 minutes and chipped in with two points, two blocks and three rebounds.
North Texas entered the contest with a plus-six rebounding edge, as it outrebounded UTEP, 43-28.
“We definitely addressed [rebounding] after the game. In terms of size, size has nothing to do with it. At the end of the day it’s what is inside that chest,” Terry said. “You have to have a lot of heart, you have to fight, and you have to compete. They have some guys over there who are older, and they do that at a very high level, and they understand that is a big part of winning. We are trying to teach our guys the nuances of what it takes to win. Especially in close games and what you have to do to close games.”
The Mean Green also outscored the Miners, 28-16, in the paint and 16-10 from the bench. The Miners, however, forced 19 UNT turnovers, after averaging only 12.6 on the season.
The Miners led by as many as nine points (12-3) eight minutes into the ball game after an Odigie jumper. But UNT outscored UTEP, 19-10, the rest of the way.
Roosevelt Smart and Gibson each scored 13 points to lead their squad, while Michael Miller added 11 points and Zachary Simmons 10. Ryan Woolridge and Gibson each tallied seven rebounds, while Jorden Duffy chipped in with six boards.
UTEP will conclude its three-game C-USA home stand with a matchup against another Texas rival Rice on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
Photo Gallery by Johnny Yturales, Associate Photographer, El Paso Herald Post
DENTON, Texas – Freshman Ariana Taylor (13 points) and sophomore Alexa Hoy (12 points) reached double figures in scoring but a tough start loomed large in UTEP’s 70-51 deficit against North Texas at the Super Pit Thursday evening.
“Tonight was a difficult night for us as we forced UNT to shoot from the perimeter early and they hit shots,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We got in a hole and had to fight our way out. We cut the lead to five in the second half but we just ran out of gas.”
The Miners (4-11, 1-1 C-USA) found themselves down 11 (14-3) three minutes into the contest, with the Mean Green (10-5, 3-0 C-USA) connecting on their first six shots of the contest. UTEP did its best to withstand the early barrage, battling to get within five (35-30) midway through the third quarter only to have a 9-0 UNT run put the game out of reach for good.
The Miners finished at 34.6 percent (18-52) from the floor, which was hindered by a readout of 22.2 percent (4-18) from 3-point range. After the quick start shooting by the home side UTEP tightened up, resulting in UNT checking in at 41.9 percent (26-62).
The Mean Green won the boards (43-37), despite Ariana Taylor (career-high seven rebounds) and Zuzanna Puc (seven boards) putting in some work on the glass. The Orange and Blue did take good care of the ball with only 12 giveaways but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the other areas.
UNT was paced by Grace Goodhart and Velma Mitchell, who each finished with 14 points.
North Texas jumped out to the aforementioned 11-point lead, forcing Baker to call timeout. It was a 12-point deficit (20-8) with 1:30 left in the frame before the Miners got things going a bit with a 6-0 push. Taylor was the catalyst, providing five of the six points. UNT connected on a jumper on its final possession to make it an eight-point affair (22-14) through 10 minutes of action.
It was a defensive-minded second quarter, with the two teams combining for 18 total points. After a lay-up from Puc and a coast-to-coast score by Jordan Jenkins, it was a six-point differential (24-18) midway through the quarter. UNT countered with five straight points, putting the Orange and Blue down by double figures (29-18) again. Consecutive scores from Jenkins brought the margin to seven (29-22) but a late triple by UNT made it a 10-point difference (32-22) heading into halftime.
After the Mean Green extended their advantage to 12 (34-22), UTEP struck back with an 8-1 push over the next three minutes to trim the deficit all the way down to five (35-30) with 6:21 remaining in the third quarter. UNT had an answer, which came in the form of nine straight points. Katarina Zec connected on a jumper to halt the surge, but UTEP was unable to build on it. The Miners played hard down the stretch, but never could get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
UTEP will wrap up its three-game roadswing to start league action by playing at Rice at 1 p.m. MT/2 p.m. CT Saturday. The game will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso with Brandon Cohn on the call and also streamed online through CUSA.tv (subscription required).
UTEP will play the second game of a three-game homestand when Conference USA leader North Texas makes its way to the Don Haskins Center for a 7 p.m. showdown on Thursday, January 10.
The Miners (5-8, 0-2 C-USA) will take on the experienced Mean Green (15-1, 3-0 C-USA), who are off to a hot start in league play.
“They’re good,” first-year UTEP head coach Rodney Terry said. “Grant [McCasland] has done a great job. He’s put together some really good pieces around guys that he inherited and they gained some valuable experience last year. I think they won 15 games prior to getting to the CBI and once they got into the CBI, they were able to win some games. Anytime you win the CBI, it’s a springboard for the next year. They’ve definitely used it in a very positive manner to start this year.”
“These young guys need [El Paso’s] support. It does make a difference when we have fans there to support them and get behind them,” Terry said. “Stick with this young group. They’re not going to play perfect, but no team is going to play perfect this year. They’ll give the effort, try to compete, leave it all out there and carry themselves the right way. Come out and support them. Before it’s all said and done, these guys will be good. Jump on the wagon now when it’s tough. It’s the best part of the process, because it is a process.”
UTEP has started league play with back-to-back losses to Texas rival UTSA. The Roadrunners raced past the Miners, 75-60, on Jan. 3 in San Antonio. The Miners responded with a big first half in the El Paso rematch, taking a 40-33 lead into the locker room behind eight three-point buckets. But UTSA’s defense slowed down UTEP in the second half, and the Roadrunners won the contest 67-63.
Efe Odigie, ranked no. 1 in C-USA in rebounds per game, posted back-to-back 16-rebound games and averaged 13.5 points against UTSA. Odigie’s 12-game double-digit scoring streak ended on Saturday, but the big man is the lone C-USA basketball player averaging a double-double this season (15.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg).
Fellow freshman Nigel Hawkins averaged 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds against UTSA. Hawkins tallied a career-high 21 points in San Antonio and a career-best four assists in the Haskins Center. Evan Gilyard, who ranks no. 1 in C-USA in three-point field goal percentage (.436), added another pair of double-digit scoring performances, going for 14 points in the first contest and 18 on Saturday night.
North Texas is off to an undefeated start in league play, winning at Rice (103-87) and versus LA Tech (63-59) and Southern Miss (65-62). The Mean Green boasts a prolific offense that ranks no. 1 in multiple categories in C-USA.
UNT’s field goal percentage (48.4), scoring margin (15.3), three-point field goal percentage (38.4) and made three-point field goals (146) all rank first in the league. North Texas averages 76.8 points per game, ranking fourth in C-USA, while its scoring defense (61.6 ppg) ranks second in C-USA and 18th nationally.
McCasland, in his second season at the helm with North Texas, has assembled a dangerous shooting squad. Redshirt freshman guard Umoja Gibson has been one of the league’s premier shooters as he ranks second in three-point shooting percentage (.430).
Four other UNT guards have been hot from three-point range as senior Jorden Duffy (26-86), senior Michael Miller (21-45), junior Roosevelt Smart (20-61) and redshirt junior DJ Draper (19-35) have all displayed range. Junior guard Ryan Woolridge leads the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and assists (83).
Besides contending with UNT’s sharpshooting, the Miners will have to work the glass on Thursday against a good rebounding Mean Green squad.
“You’re talking about a team that is plus-six on the glass coming in, they’re a team that does a really good job of rebounding with all five guys coming to the glass,” Terry said. “We’re going to have to come out and do the things we practice every day, which is to have physical block outs and, obviously, hit your guy, go fetch the basketball and run it down with two hands.”
UTEP will end the homestand with a Saturday night contest against Rice with tipoff set for 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
Promotions for Thursday and Saturday Night
Wear blue for the North Texas game and pick up a game program for the chance to receive one of 1,000 replica jerseys. Two lucky fans will shoot to win $1,000 at the North Texas game (Allstate Money Ball Giveaway).
Fans who register at the Allstate table at each designated men’s basketball game (vs. North Texas, Old Dominion, Florida Atlantic and FIU) will have a chance to be a contestant. Two contestants will be randomly picked. The Rice game features a Miners Got Talent halftime performance.
Fans can listen live on KOFX 92.3 with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher and Steve Yellin. The Spanish broadcast can be heard on ESPN Deportes 1650AM with Omar Ropele and Abel Rodriguez.
The contest will also be streamed on ESPN+ with Duke Keith (play-by-play) and former Miner Leonard Owens calling the action.
UT El Paso January 5, 2019Sports, UTEPComments Off on Miners Flatten Roadrunners 73-60 to Open C-USA Slate
SAN ANTONIO – Sophomore Alexa Hoy poured in a career-high 22 points off the bench to pace a trio of Miners in double figures to help UTEP topple UTSA, 73-60, on the road in the Conference USA opener for both squads inside the Convocation Center Saturday afternoon.
“Today was a great team win,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “I’m so proud of how we finished the game and closed it out. But, more importantly, we rebounded our way to the victory.”
The first true road victory of the year for the Miners (4-10, 1-0 C-USA) moves them to 11-3 all time in C-USA lidlifters. The Roadrunners (5-8, 0-1 C-USA) didn’t make it easy by bolting to a 10-point (22-12) lead early in the second quarter, but behind Hoy’s 12 points in the frame UTEP pulled even (30-30) at half.
The Miners were up by two (49-47) before using a huge fourth quarter (24-13) to post the double-digit victory.
Jordan Alexander (season-high 18 points) and Zuzanna Puc (15 points) joined Hoy in double figures for scoring while freshmen Ariana Taylor (eight points) and Sabine Lipe (seven points) also got after it. UTEP crushed the Roadrunners, the top offensive-rebounding team in the league, on the boards (45-28), with Alexander snagging 11 rebounds to post her second double-double this season. Lipe got involved as well by pulling down a career-best seven caroms.
The Miners shot 45.3 percent (24-53) from the floor, including connecting on 8-20 (40.0 percent) from distance. UTEP shared the ball effectively, racking up 17 assists on its 24 field goals made. It was a different story for the home side, which was limited to 33.3 percent (22-66) shooting, including 22.7 percent (5-22) on 3-point tries.
But the story of the day was Hoy, who put on a show in front of her mom, aunt and grandmother. She nailed 7-12 from the floor, including 2-5 from distance. She also making 6-7 free throws, including 5-6 in the final frame, to help ice the contest.
UTSA scored the first six points of the contest before the Miners used a runner in the lane from Puc and a straightaway triple by Taylor to cut the margin to one (6-5, 7:13 1Q). After the two sides traded scores, the Roadrunners closed the frame on a 9-2 surge to put UTEP down by nine (18-9) through 10 minutes of action.
UTSA extended its lead to double figures (22-12) early in the second quarter, but UTEP refused to just fold up shop. The Orange and Blue peeled off nine consecutive points to get within one (22-21, 4:17 2Q). Hoy accounted for seven of the points in the sequence, filling the void created by having Puc and Katarina Zec on the bench due to foul problems. It was back-and-forth the rest of the frame, with Hoy eventually accounting for 12 points in the period to help the Miners pull even at 30 going into halftime.
The Orange and Blue scored the first five points of the third quarter, including an old-fashioned 3-pointer from Hoy. UTSA struck back with six straight points but UTEP didn’t blink. It countered with a 7-0 surge, with Hoy scoring or assisting on five of the points. As it turned out, it proved to be a lead that UTEP would not relinquish.
The Miners had to work for it, though, with the Roadrunners trailing by four (56-52, 5:39 4Q) midway through the final frame. A mini 5-0 run by the Orange and Blue gave them some breathing room, and the home side didn’t get closer than six the rest of the way.
UTEP continues its roadswing to begin league action by playing at North Texas at 6 p.m. MT/7 p.m. CT on Thursday.
UT El Paso December 13, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on Miners Return to Action Sunday; Will Host UC Riverside
After 11 days between games and a tough battle at Big East power Marquette, the UTEP men’s basketball team (3-5) will return to the hardwood, as it will host UC Riverside (3-7) on Sunday, December 16 with a 1 p.m. tipoff in the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners, after completing finals, will be ready to hit the court since their last contest was played on December 4 at Marquette.
“When we got back from our road trip [Milwaukee], we gave our guys a couple days off so they could prepare for what they have ahead of them in terms of an academic load and continue to work on basketball as well,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We knew we would have time to work on things to continue to get better with, whether it was rebounding, working on some offensive details and continuing to work on fundamentals.”
UTEP and UC Riverside will face each other for the third time. The Miners defeated the Highlanders 52-41 on November 23, 2011 and 95-55 on January 2, 2007 as both contests were played in the Don Haskins Center.
Terry faced the Highlanders once while at Fresno State as the Bulldogs won 39-30 on November 14, 2012.
During UTEP’s previous contest, Jordan Lathon came up with a huge performance against Marquette on national television. The freshman registered career highs in points (26), assists (six), field goals (eight), three-point field goals (three) and made free throws (seven) in 36 minutes of action. Lathon added two steals (eight in the last four games), while guarding Golden Eagles’ potent scorer Markus Howard, who finished 6-for-17 overall and 2-of-8 from three-point range.
Fellow freshman Efe Odigie also produced a solid outing, as he picked up his third double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) against MU. Odigie connected on a career-high eight field goals (13 attempts), while tying his career best by snagging a pair of steals. Ountae Campbell, who’s been a big addition to the lineup, played a season-high 26 minutes off the bench.
The Golden Eagles took a 17-point lead early in the second half. But the fighting Miners outscored MU 37-27 the rest of the contest, only to lose 76-69. UTEP cut the deficit to four points with over six minutes remaining in the contest after a made jump shot by Lathon. But Marquette connected on 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to pull away.
Evan Gilyard scored 10 points against Marquette. The sophomore leads the Miners, while ranking ninth in Conference USA at 18.0 points per game. Odigie tops the squad at 8.8 rebounds per game, and ranks third in C-USA.
Odigie ranks second on the squad at 14.6 points per game. Lathon paces the team with 22 assists, while he and Nigel Hawkins have each tallied eight steals. Kaosi Ezeagu leads the Miners with six blocked shots.
“We’re going to get a quality opponent coming in in UC Riverside and David Patrick [UCR Head Coach] is in his first year there and doing an outstanding job. It’s going to be a well-coached team,” Terry said. “He’s got a couple of big guys that do a great job getting offensive rebounds and second-chance scoring opportunities. He’s also got a couple of guards that can put the ball in the basket. [Dikymbe] Martin is like that kid [Markus] Howard from Marquette and can really light it up. They do a good job defending as well.”
The Highlanders are coming off 75-71 victory against Pepperdine on Dec. 6. Martin, a junior guard, scored 22 points (4-5 from three-point range), while 7-foot senior center Menno Dijkstra added 22 points and six rebounds. Martin heads up the squad at 16.3 points per game, while sophomore guard Jordan Gilliam averages 8.9 points per contest and leads the team at 4.2 rebounds per game. Dijkstra averages 8.2 points per game.
Overall, the Highlanders are shooting over 43 percent and averaging 63.4 points per game. UCR yields 69.9 points per game and has allowed its opponents to shoot 33.5 percent (61-182) from beyond the arc.
The Highlanders’ other two victories came against UC Merced (63-53 on Nov. 17) and Elon (77-64 on Nov. 23). UCR opened the season with losses at Oregon State (72-59 on Nov. 6), at Portland State (71-64 on Nov. 10) and at UNLV (72-51 on Nov. 13). Prior to beating Pepperdine, the Highlanders fell against Abilene Christian (60-48 on Nov. 24), at Cal Baptist (80-70 on Nov. 29) and at Valparaiso (82-73 on Dec. 2).
Single-game tickets, starting at $8, are available by calling (915) 747-5234. Fans can listen live on KOFX 92.3 with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher and Steve Yellen. The Spanish broadcast can be heard on ESPN Deportes 1650 AM with Omar Ropele and Abel Rodriguez.
The Miners and Highlanders can also be seen on the CUSA.TV live stream.
Evan Gilyard recorded his first career double-double and Efe Odigie powered his way to a second consecutive double-double, leading UTEP (2-2) to a 66-59 victory over Eastern New Mexico on Monday night at the Don Haskins Center.
Though the Miners won, it wasn’t easy as the Greyhounds kept is close till the end.
“We’re going to be in ball games all year that are going to be close,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “I told our guys earlier in the year, we have to be the hardest playing, scrappiest team in the country in terms of how hard we have to play. We’ve done it before with teams in the past and the buy-in piece is we have to continue to do that every night. We’re not going to come in and outjump teams, but we can have physical block outs. Lowest man always wins, not the guy who jumps the highest. We have to continue to work on those areas of improvement, like taking care of the ball. We have to do a better job taking care of the ball.”
Gilyard and Odigie came up with big performances, while combining for the game’s last six points that gave UTEP the seven-point victory.
Gilyard ripped down a career-high 11 rebounds (five offensive) and matched his career best with a season-high 29 points in 36 minutes. Gilyard, after averaging just over nine points per game his freshman campaign, has upped that number to 20.5 in the early going.
“You don’t just come out and score like that without putting any work into it,” Gilyard said. “I worked hard over the summer and I’ve been working on my craft since I started playing basketball. I try to prove people wrong and just work hard every day in the gym to have nights like this and be able to contribute to the team.”
Odigie amassed a season-high 17 boards and tallied 14 points. His transition from high school to college has been a challenge, but Odigie has responded by averaging over 15 points and over 10 rebounds per game in his first four collegiate contests.
“It’s been tough, especially the first couple months coming in to the college level,” Odigie said. “It’s way different from high school and getting used to the pace. But coach [Terry] has been talking to me every day about going hard in practice. Playing all these minutes makes everything easier and it’s slowing down. Being a freshman, I’m just trying to take advantage of the minutes I have now.”
The Miners were challenged as the Division II Greyhounds played them tough on the night.
After being down 33-27 at the half, ENMU came out of the locker room and went on an 18-7 run to take a 45-40 lead at the 15:37 mark after a tip-in by Chukuka Emili.
But after a timeout and encouraging words from Terry, the Miners responded with a 13-5 run to take a 53-50 lead after a Paul Thomas offensive rebound and put-back at the 9:22 mark. The run started with a Kaosi Ezeagu jumper in the paint, while the freshman tallied a layup to get UTEP within a point (45-44). After a made jump shot by Darius Sawyer, Thomas answered with a three-pointer to tie the ball game at 47-47.
Gilyard used one of his five offensive rebounds to draw a foul and then connect on a pair of free throws, giving his squad a two-point lead (49-47).
The Greyhounds made things interesting after tying the game 57-57 with under five minutes to play, while coming within a point on multiple occasions. After a good jumper by Bryce McAlister to make the score 60-59 at the 3:03 mark, UTEP scored the next six points to close out the ball game as Odigie made a trio of free throws down the stretch, and Gilyard connected on a free throw and jump shot to solidify the victory.
Gilyard not only played great offensively, but defensively, he showed toughness by drawing five charges.
“Evan spent a lot of time working in the gym and shooting the ball a lot,” Terry said. “We need him to score for us. Tim Floyd said when I took the job that, ‘you really don’t want him as a point guard, you want to make him a two, he’s really a two’. He’s a guy I really tried to challenge to want to be a two-way player because defensively, he can bring a little something to the table, especially on the ball. He’s getting better off the ball but he’s a fierce competitor. We needed him and the team to take charges because [ENMU] was going to try and attack the paint.”
The Miners outrebounded the Greyhounds 50-35, while recording 13 assists.
Kobe Magee dished out four of those dimes and hitting a three-point bucket during the first half in 29 minutes of action. Ezeagu came off the bench to score six points with three rebounds in nine minutes. Nigel Hawkins made his first start in front of the Miner faithful, scoring three points and leading the team with three steals. Jordan Lathon scored two points on a fast break dunk off an assist by Ezeagu in the second half. Thomas came up a point short of a double-double as he recorded 10 rebounds on the night.
Odigie also added a block and recorded his first career assists (three), playing a season-high 31 minutes.
“The big fellow has a different role [at UTEP] than what recruited him for [at Fresno State],” Terry said. “We recruited him as a developmental guy who we were going to bring along. He was going to play behind a lot of older players and he wasn’t going to be a focal point of what we’re doing. But you fast forward and we have him here and he’s got to play right now. His growth curve had to chance on day one. We started the summer with his conditioning. His conditioning was going to be a big part of him being able to stay in games, compete at the level that we wanted him to compete. He bought into it and lost 20 pounds. He’s a guy who’s very gifted – from an offensive standpoint and I like what he’s doing.”
The Miners shot over 42 percent and scored 40 points in the paint, along with 21 second-chance points.
ENMU was led by Maurice Coleman’s 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and Devin Pullum chipped in with 10 points.
Up Next, UTEP will take on rival New Mexico on Nov. 24 in The Pit. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.
Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post
UT El Paso November 14, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on UTEP Defense Wears Down Roadrunners En Route to 53-47 Victory
Junior Zuzanna Puc registered her fifth career double-double (12 points, personal-best tying 12 rebounds), and the defense did the rest in UTEP’s 53-47 win against CSU Bakersfield at the Don Haskins Center Wednesday evening.
The Miners (2-0) held the Roadrunners (2-1) to 28.8 percent (17-59) from the field, while also winning the rebounding battle (46-34) in the tightly-contested ballgame. UTEP outscored CSUB, 19-9, in the final frame to rally back from a four-point deficit (38-34) through 30 minutes of action.
There were six ties and eight lead changes, with the final with coming during a 9-0 Miner run in the fourth quarter. The surge, which spanned roughly five minutes, turned a 41-36 deficit into a 45-41 advantage. UTEP never relinquished the lead from that point. The biggest shot was a 3-pointer by Neidy Ocuane, which proved to be the lone triple (1-20) of the game for the Orange and Blue.
CSUB did fight back to tie the contest, 47-47, but the Miners pitched a shutout over the final 2:18. Katarina Zec connected on 6-8 at the charity stripe in that sequence to give the home side just enough to pull out the win. Zec finished with nine points and eight boards to support Puc, while Jordan Alexander contributed eight points and a quartet of rebounds. Sophomore Jordan Jenkins added six points and a career-high tying five boards.
The Roadrunners were led by 13 points and 12 boards from Malayasia McHenry. CSUB’s Alexxus Gilbert and Jazmine Johnson were held to a total of 14 points on a combined 4-16 shooting. The duo entered the contest contributing 29.5 ppg on a combined 22-49 from the floor.
“I’m just so proud of the toughness of our team,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “The fact that we were 1-20 (on 3-pointers) would deject most teams, but our team continued to defend and held them to nine points in the fourth quarter. We were down five and the momentum was not going our way, but the team collectively stood up and played a pretty good defensive game. We won the game on the boards. I’m just really pleased with our effort and with our fans. I thought they helped us when we needed a momentum shift. I thought they were there for us, and we really appreciate that.”
It was a defensive battle from the onset, as CSU Bakersfield led, 8-6, with two minutes to play in the opening quarter. The Miners found a bit of rhythm down the stretch, closing the frame on a 7-1 push to secure a four-point cushion (13-9) through 10 minutes of action. Zec started it with an old-fashioned 3-point play, which was followed by a twisting lay-up from Jenkins. Jenkins then capped off the surge with a pair of free throws.
The Roadrunners struck back with a 5-0 run over the first 32 seconds of the second quarter. CSUB remained up by one (18-17) with 6:46 left in the quarter before back-to-back baskets by the Orange and Blue put them back into lead (21-18). The margin at the break was four (25-21) in favor of the home side, with the Roadrunners being held to two points over the final three minutes.
UTEP continued to lead, 32-29, with 6:28 remaining in the third quarter before CSUB closed the period on a 9-2 push to secure the aforementioned four-point cushion (38-34) heading to the final frame. The deficit extended to five (41-36) with 8:07 to play before the Orange and Blue rallied back. Freshman Ariana Taylor pitched in four points in the stretch, including an offensive rebound and putback to get the Miners within one. That was followed by a jumper from Jordan Alexander before Ocuane sank the trey.
The Miners will have a quick turnaround, as they play host to NM State in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234.
TUCSON – Freshman Efe Odigie registered his first career double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), while fellow freshmen Nigel Hawkins and Kaosi Ezeagu made their first career starts. But Arizona (3-0) powered past UTEP (1-2), 79-46, on Wednesday night in the McKale Center.
For Hawkins, it was his first collegiate action. The Houston native tallied seven points, six rebounds and three assists during a team-high 35 minutes of action to in his UTEP debut.
Senior Paul Thomas led the Miners with a season-high 14 points (2-of-4 on three-point buckets), while chipping in with six boards and three dimes.
The Wildcats opened the game with an 8-0 lead five minutes into the contest and with the score 13-4, freshman Jordan Lathon connected on his first career three-point basket, while Odigie made a layup to make the score 15-9 at the 13:40 mark.
After U of A took a 23-13 lead following a Chase Jeter layup, the Orange and Blue answered with a 5-0 run with about four minutes remaining in the half. Thomas tallied a pair of points in the paint, while Kobe Magee connected on a trey to make the count 23-18.
“We had opportunities and anytime you go on the road you have to take care of the basketball. We had some turnovers at costly times when we had a chance to try and make a game of it,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “But I thought our guys kept competing, kept fighting and kept trying to do the things we’ve asked them to do.”
Arizona proved to be too much, though, as it answered with an 11-5 run to take a 34-23 lead into the locker room.
Brandon Williams and Brandon Randolph scored 21 points apiece, while Jeter added 15 points to the stat sheet in front of the Wildcats’ 13,651 fans. Ira Lee added seven points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Odigie came off the bench for the first time this season and led the Miners with 11 rebounds, while going 5-for-8 from the field in 28 minutes of action.
“I thought [Odigie] really responded from Friday [at NM State] and he was really challenged the last couple days in practice in terms of his effort and how hard we wanted him to play against a veteran frontline tonight,” Terry said. “I thought he did a nice job holding his own against older players.”
And with Hawkins returning from injury, he added more depth to Terry’s squad after missing the first two games of the season with an injury. Hawkins went 1-for-9 from field but Terry has confidence he’ll find his groove.
“It gives you another guy in your rotation,” Terry said. “But it’s hard coming in with your first game playing Arizona on the road and [Hawkins] hasn’t played for three weeks. I thought he kept good poise, considering he hasn’t played. He came in and played against guys at 6-5, 6-6, every time you go to the basket. You’re challenged, there were no uncontested shots at the rim. So, I thought he did a nice job and he’s going to play his way through it and play his way back into playing shape.”
Ezeagu blocked a shot, his third on the season, while scoring two points and tallying a pair of rebounds. Gilles Dekoninck played over five minutes and Magee (26-plus minutes) came off the bench after playing 40 minutes in back-to-back games to start the season. Evan Gilyard struggled, scoring four points with two rebounds and two assists.
UTEP will return to the Sun City to take on Eastern New Mexico in the Don Haskins Center, Monday, November 19 with a 7 p.m. tipoff. For individual game tickets, call (915) 747-5234.
UT El Paso November 8, 2018Sports, UTEPComments Off on Miners Set to Battle Aggies Friday Night in Las Cruces
UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry, along with his revamped roster will experience their first Battle of I-10 on Friday (Nov. 9) as UTEP will face NM State for the first time this season.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Pan American Center.
“It’s obviously a great rivalry, one that we have tremendous respect for and respect for their program and what they’ve been able to do,” Terry said. “There’s obvious respect for coach (Chris) Jans and how he gets his guys prepared to compete at a very high level. I think it’s great for both of us to compete at a high level and continue to get better.”
The Miners and Aggies will face each other for the 216th time on Friday night, while the two will square off for a second time this season on Wednesday, November 28 in the Don Haskins Center.
The November 9 date is the earliest that the two programs will meet in the history of the rivalry, while it’s the second time since the 2014-15 season that UTEP will take on NM State in its second game of the season.
The Miners (1-0) are coming off a 90-63 victory over UT Permian Basin on Nov. 6, while Terry chalked up his first win as UTEP’s head coach. Terry started two freshmen in Efe Odigie and Jordan Lathon, while Kaosi Ezeagu played significant minutes off the bench. The trio combined for 39 points, the second-most combined points ever by UTEP freshmen in a season opener.
Odigie impressed in his UTEP debut, scoring 23 points and pulling down nine rebounds in 19 minutes of action. Odigie’s tied the most points ever by a UTEP freshman in a season opener. Terry’s other big man, Ezeagu, made a positive impression, scoring 10 points, tallying nine rebounds and blocking a pair of shots. Lathon led the Miners with 10 rebounds, dished out four assists, blocked two shots and chipped in with six points. Lathon was the first UTEP freshman with 10-plus boards in a season opener since 1978.
As far as UTEP’s returning letterwinners, Paul Thomas energized the Miner faithful and his teammates with a thunderous dunk over a UT Permian Basin defender during the second half. The senior scored 10 points, blocked a shot, tallied a pair of dimes and three rebounds.
Evan Gilyard led the Miners with 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. The sophomore sensation scored 16 of his points during the second half, while connecting on 5-of-7 three-point buckets. Gilyard tied for the team lead with fellow sophomore Kobe Magee as each dished out five assists. Magee was the first Miner to play the full 40 minutes in season opener since Nov. 21, 2000.
After heading to the locker room up four points (38-34), Terry’s squad came out with more intensity during the second half and outscored the Falcons, 52-29, after hitting on more than 65 percent of their field goals. Overall, UTEP connected on over 52 percent of its field goals, while going 11-for-23 from three-point range. The Miners also dished out 19 assists, combined for six blocks and outrebounded their opponent, 42-40. UTEP’s 42 free throw attempts were its third-most in a season opener.
The Aggies (1-0) also won on opening night, defeating North Dakota State, 73-56. Redshirt senior JoJo Zamora led the team with 16 points in 19 minutes, while junior Terrell Brown scored 13 points off the bench. Junior Clayton Henry led NM State with seven rebounds and chipped in with eight points. The Aggies recorded eight assists and outrebounded NDSU 47-31.
UTEP and NM State is the longest-running series in school history, as the Aggies lead the series 112-103.
Last season during the first meeting on Nov. 25 in Las Cruces, Thomas (30 minutes) and Gilyard (33 minutes) tied for the team lead with 14 points each and registered five rebounds apiece.
During the second meeting in El Paso, Thomas recorded nine points and three rebounds, while Magee, after only playing one minute in the first meeting, upped his minutes to eight in the second game.