Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics

UTEP Men’s Basketball Continues Homestand Vs. Sul Ross State Tuesday

UTEP Men’s Basketball Continues Homestand Vs. Sul Ross State Tuesday

Story via UTEP Athletics


Fresh off a victory against I-10 rival NM State, the UTEP men’s basketball team (1-1) will continue its season-long five-game homestand when it plays host to Division III foe Sul Ross State (0-1) at 7 p.m. MT Tuesday. The Miners knocked off the Aggies, 67-64, on Nov. 12 for their first win of the season and in the rivalry series in three years. The Lobos were dispatched, 85-66, at Texas Lutheran in their season opener in Nov. 8, meaning that they will be well rested for the match-up vs. the Miners. As part of a “Taco Tuesday” promotion, fans can purchase margaritas for $5 and three tacos for $5. It is the lone contest on the year for the Orange and Blue against a non Division-I opponent. Last year the Miners had two such tilts. The game will be broadcast on 600 ESPN El Paso and streamed on (subscription required) Tickets are available by visiting or by calling (915) 747-UTEP. Jon Teicher (42nd year) and Steve Yellen (20th year) will be on the call on “The Home of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso for Tuesday’s contest.


The Miners are 1-0 thus far on their season-long five-game homestand after knocking off NM State, 67-64, on Nov. 12. Following the match-up with Sul Ross State, UTEP will then play host to the inaugural Jim Forbes Classic presented by Speaking Rock with games against Alcorn State (Nov. 22), CSUB (Nov. 23) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 25). The Miners wrap up the month of November on the road with a return visit to NM State on Nov. 30.


UTEP leads the series with Sul Ross State, 24-14, including winning seven straight against the Lobos. Most recently the Miners dispatched Sul Ross State, 84-65, in the Don Haskins Center on Dec. 5, 2020. Prior to that match-up, the two sides had not squared off since 2003-04 and before that 1974-75. In fact, half (19 of 38) of the meetings have occurred prior to 1965, including 14 during the 1920’s and 1930’s. UTEP has won 21 of the last 24 contests. The Lobos controlled early on, holding a 11-3 record over the initial 14 games.


Sul Ross State is a Division III program located in Alpine, Texas, and has competed as a founding member of the American Southwest Conference since 1996-97. The Lobos are 0-1 on the young season after falling at Texas Lutheran, 85-66, on Nov. 8. Luke Plymen (16 points) and Julian Paredes (14 points) both reached double figures in scoring to lead the way offensively in the game while Christian Nevarez pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. In the preseason ASC poll, Sul Ross State was pegged eighth out of 10th place, with Trey Nelson, Paredes and Caelyb Kerley all being named to the league’s watch list. Nelson (honorable-mention) and Paredes (second team), an El Paso native, were All-ASC selections a year ago. The contest against the Miners is part of a brutal stretch of playing four straight and 14 of 15 away from home to begin the 2022-23 season. That includes incredibly enough their first six conference contests all being in hostile territory. Sul Ross State has experienced success in its league. In 2019-20 it won the American Southwest Conference after forging a record of 13-3 within the league. Overall, the Lobos finished the season at 17-10. Sul Ross State is under the direction of third-year head coach Xavier Webb, who has guided the program to consecutive ASC tournament appearances for the first time since the 2015-18 seasons. He was a player at the school, helping it claim the 2015-16 ASC West Division Championship before starting his coaching career as an assistant coach with Wayland Baptist. Notable university alumni include Tuff Hedeman (retired four-time World Champion Bull Rider) and Dan Blocker (actor best known for playing Hoss Cartwright in Bonanza).

LAST TIME OUT: AT UTEP 67, NM STATE 64 (11/12/22)

Tae Hardy (14 points), Ze’Rik Onyema (career-high 13 points) and Mario McKinney Jr. (10 points) all hit double figures in scoring and UTEP forced 20 turnovers to help the Miners down I-10 rival NM State, 67-64, in front of a near capacity crowd (11,315) at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 12. UTEP led the Aggies for 38:39 of the contest, including being up by as many as 13 (58-45) midway through the second half. The Miners also had a big advantage in bench scoring (24-10), with McKinney leading the charge in that department. It marked UTEP’s first win in the series since a 65-50 triumph in El Paso on Nov. 12, 2019. Calvin Solomon netted seven points and four boards while Otis Frazier III chipped in six points, four rebounds and three assists.


UTEP played in front of an almost capacity crowd of 11,315 fans in the win against NM State on Nov. 12. It marked the largest home attendance for the Miners since an actual sellout (12,000) of the Don Haskins Center when they beat WKU, 93-89, in a game commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Texas Western NCAA Champions.


Mario McKinney Jr. made quite the impact in his 2022-23 season debut against his former squad NM State on Nov. 12. He came off the bench to tally 10 points, two shy of his career high, with eight of those occurring in the second half. He nailed 5-10 from the floor while also pulling down a pair of rebounds in 21 productive minutes of action.


A year ago the Miners had a -7.2 rebounding margin (30.1-37.2), but through two games this season UTEP has appeared to have made some strides. The Orange and Blue are +2.5 (33.5-31.0) in the category through two contests, which was helped by winning the rebounding battle at No. 12 Texas, 32-27. The Miners then held their own against a physical NM State squad, finishing even (35-35) on the glass.


After failing to reach double figures in scoring over his first two seasons with the Orange and Blue, forward Ze’Rik Onyema has done so in both contests of the 2022-23 campaign. He tallied a then career-high 10 points at No. 12 Texas on Nov. 7 before eclipsing that with 13 points in the rivalry win against NM State last time out on Nov. 12. For the year, he paces the team in shooting percentage (81.8), having made 9-11 from the field while sharing the squad lead with Tae Hardy in points per game (11.5 ppg). He is also second on the unit in rebounds per game (4.5 rpg).


Calvin Solomon has put up seven points in back-to-back contests to start the year, aided by sharing the team  lead in free throws made (six) and topping it in free throws attempted (eight).He has done this in just 22.2 minutes per game.


Otis Frazier III has put up stats across the board early on in 2022-23. He has averaged 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 18.7 minutes per game. Frazier is also tied for the team lead in free throws made, going 6-7 at the charity stripe thus far.


Point guard Shamar Givance has distributed a team-best 4.0 assists per game (seventh C-USA) through two contests. He has twice as many assists (eight) as turnovers (four) while ranking second on the team in minutes played (30.8 mpg).


Seven different players are pitching in at least 5.0 points per game through the first two games of the season. Tae Hardy (11.5 ppg), Ze’Rik Onyema (11.5 ppg) and Mario McKinney Jr. (10.0 ppg) are all in double figures on average to lead the way but Otis Frazier III (7.5 ppg), Calvin Solomon (7.0 ppg), Shamar Givance (5.5 ppg) and Jamari Sibley (5.0 ppg) have also proven to be capable scorers.


The Miners have kept each of the first two opponents to less than 30 percent from 3-point range. Overall, foes are shooting 26.7 percent (8-30) from beyond-the-arc to place UTEP fourth in C-USA and 91st nationally.


Between Jamari SibleyKevin Kalu and Ze’Rik Onyema, the Miners returned just 20.8 percent of their rebounding, 11.1 percent of their scoring and 9.0 percent of their assists from the 2021-22 squad. In total, the Miners lost four starters and 12 letter winners from last year’s squad, including a pair of All-Conference USA performers in Souley Boum (second team) and Jamal Bieniemy (third team).


UTEP lost four starters and 12 letter winners from last year’s team, giving the Miners a new look in year two under head coach Joe Golding. UTEP brought in six Division I transfers (Otis Frazier III, George Mason, Shamar Givance, Evansville, Tae Hardy, Southern Miss, Garrett Levesque, Tarleton State, Mario McKinney Jr., NM State and Calvin Solomon, Stephen F. Austin) while adding four junior-college transfers (Jon Dos Anjos, Florida SouthWestern College), Derick Hamilton, Bossier Parish CC, Carlos Lemus, Chipola College and Malik Zachery, South Plains) and two true freshmen (Antwonne Holmes, Chapin HS, El Paso, Texas, and Jamal Sumlin, Rhodes HS, Cleveland, Ohio). It should be noted that Dos Anjos spent his freshman campaign at Loyola Marymount (Calif.) before going the junior-college route.


The Miners’ six DI transfers combined to play in 312 contests, including making 150 starts, prior to their arrival in the Sun City. Shamar Givance (Evansville, 118 GP, 63 GS) and Calvin Solomon (Stephen F. Austin, 82 GP, 56 GS) are the most experienced of the bunch, but Otis Frazier III, George Mason, 35 GP), Mario McKinney Jr. (NM State, 38 GP, 5 GS) and Tae Hardy (Southern Miss, 30 GP, 26 GS) also have 30+ appearances.


Tuesday’s contest is the second of 18 at home (1-0 thus far) for the Orange and Blue this year. They will have 10 Conference USA tilts. UTEP will play host to the inaugural Jim Forbes Classic Presented by Speaking Rock (a multi-teams event  from Nov. 22-25) in addition to the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational (Dec. 21-22). The Miners entered the 2022-23 campaign having registered three straight seasons with 10+ wins at home, including compiling 12 victories inside the Don Haskins a year ago. Aiding in that effort was UTEP leading C-USA in total attendance (88,125) with nearly 90,000 fans passing through the turnstiles.


UTEP fell at No. 12 Texas, 72-57, in its season opener on Nov. 7. It marked the first time to begin the season with a true road game since a

73-61 victory at Pac-12 foe Washington on Nov. 21, 2000. Overall, the Miners will have 13 road games (0-1 thus far) on the year (three nonconference, 10 C-USA). UTEP went 7-6 in 2021-22 on the road, its first winning road record since forging a mark of 8-2 in 2013-14.


The Nov. 7 opener at No. 12/12 Texas was broadcast nationally on the Longhorn Network. It marked the first of 17 contests to be broadcast/streamed on nationwide platforms, with 13 on ESPN+, and one each on ESPNU, FS1, the Longhorn Network and Stadium.


–    UTEP (20-14) posted its first 20+ win season since going 22-11 in 2014-15. It marked the 27th 20+ win campaign in program history.

–    The Miners notched their first postseason appearance since 2015 and first postseason win since 2009.

–    The Miners finished 11-7 in league play to secure their first winning conference record since forging a mark of 12-6 in 2016-17. That was aided by winning 10 of 14 down the stretch, including halting back-to-back C-USA West Division Champion North Texas’ 15-game winning streak, 70-68, on “Senior Day” on March 5.

–    UTEP downed Old Dominion, 74-64, on March 9 for its first victory at the C-USA Championships in five years.

–    UTEP’s seven road wins were the most since going 8-2 in 2013-14.

–    The Miners had their first winning road record (5-4) in league play since 2016-17.

–    UTEP’s five league road wins surpassed its total (four) of such games from the prior three seasons combined.

–    UTEP had a six-game conference USA winning streak (Jan. 15 to Feb. 5), which was its longest since also posting six straight wins  in 2016 (2/4-20/16). It marked the fifth winning streak of at least six C-USA games since the Miners joined the league in 2005-06.


–    This is the 102nd season of UTEP men’s basketball. The Miners made history by starting five African-Americans to defeat Kentucky, 72-65, and win the 1966 NCAA Championship on the way to inspiring the Disney hit movie Glory Road. Overall, UTEP has 17 NCAA Tournament appearances (last in 2010), 11 NIT bids (last in 2015), 12 conference championships (last in 2010) and 27 seasons with at least 20+ victories (last in 2022). The Miners have won five league tournaments (last in 2005).

–    The Miners have a strong presence in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with Don Haskins, Nate Archibald, Nolan Richardson, the 1966 team and Tim Hardaway all representing UTEP.

–    UTEP finished 20-14 in 2021-22, which was its most wins since going 22-11 in 2014-15.

–    The Miners returned one starter (Jamari Sibley), and eight letter winners overall. The two other returning letter winners are Kevin Kalu and Ze’Rik Onyema.

–    UTEP has 12 newcomers: Jon Dos AnjosOtis Frazier IIIShamar GivanceDerick HamiltonTae HardyAntwonne HolmesCarlos LemusGarrett LevesqueMario McKinney Jr.Calvin SolomonJamal Sumlin and Malik Zachery.


Joe Golding is in his second year at UTEP, and is the 20th head coach in program history. He is the eighth head coach for the Miners since legendary Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins retired following the 1998-99 season. Golding is 179-159 in his 12th season as a collegiate head coach, including 21-15 at UTEP. Last year he became the fourth head coach (20 total) in program history to have a winning season in their first year on the sideline. Don Haskins was the first when he directed the Miners to a mark of 18-6 in 1961-62. Doc Sadler (27-8, 2004-05) and Tim Floyd (25-10, 2010-11) also achieved the feat. Overall, the prior 19 head coaches combined to forge an average record of 9-13 in their first year with UTEP. Previously Golding  spent 10 years at Abilene Christian (158-144), helping it transition from a Division II to a Division I program. Golding led the Wildcats to the 2019 and 2021 NCAA Tournaments, including a stunning upset as a 14-seed of third-seeded Texas in the first round of the 2021 Big Dance.


UTEP was predicted to finish eighth out of 11 teams in Conference USA for the 2022-23 season, but keep in mind that last year’s edition of the Miners was underestimated. The Orange and Blue were tabbed to finish in 10th place a year ago before tying for the fifth-most wins in league play by forging a mark of 11-7 in 18 C-USA tilts. Overall UAB was predicted to finish first, followed by WKU and North Texas at second and third, respectively.


UTEP will be idle for a week before playing host to the inaugural Jim Forbes Classic presented by Speaking Rock with games against Alcorn State (Nov. 22), CSUB (Nov. 23) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 25). The games will be broadcast on 600 ESPN El Paso and streamed on Tickets are available by visiting or by calling (915) 747-UTEP.


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