UTEP and New Mexico will collide for the 145th time as the Battle of I-25 returns to the Bear’s Den Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in the annual “Noche Latina” game.
The matchup will feature live mariachi music and folklorico dancers, and UTEP players will wear their “Mineros” jerseys.
“We can’t thank the fans enough for their support against the Aggies and we’ll need every one of them back for another big rivalry game versus the Lobos,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “This is a New Mexico team that was highly competitive in the Mountain West last season and added some high-profile transfers from Ohio State, Texas A&M, Kansas and Towson. They are picked to finish third in the Mountain West this season. It’s going to be another great test for our squad. El Paso, we need you to come out and help us Defend the Don!”
Both programs are off to perfect starts as the Miners (3-0) defeated Eastern New Mexico, 71-57, Friday night in the Haskins Center, and the Lobos (4-0) got by McNeese State 90-80 Saturday evening in The Pit.
UTEP is 3-0 for the first time since the 2015-16 season after freshman Deon Stroud scored a career-high 14 points to lead the Miners past ENMU by 14 points. Bryson Williams scored 12 points, while Souley Boum hit double-digit figures (11 points) and tied his collegiate career high with four assists.
The Miners outrebounded the Greyhounds 46-23, while Terry used nine players off the bench that combined to score 29 points.
Prior, the Miners defeated NM State on Nov. 12 as they snapped a nine-game losing streak in the Haskins Center. The 50 points allowed to the Aggies were the least since allowing only 49 on Nov. 29, 1983 in which UTEP won by 13 points that night.
The Miners are shooting for its first sweep of the Aggies and the Lobos in the Sun City since 1997.
Like the Miners and coach Terry, UNM Head Coach Paul Weir has multiple transfers on his roster who are making serious contributions early in the season.
During UNM’s 10-point victory over McNeese State, senior transfer Corey Manigault led the Lobos with 24 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the free-throw line. JaQuan Lyle, a transfer from Ohio State, tallied 18 points as he shot 3-for-5 from downtown. Carlton Bragg, a 6-10 transfer from Kansas, ripped down 18 boards and snagged five steals.
Lyle leads the Lobos at 19.0 points per game, while Manigault (15.8 ppg), Makauch Maluach (12.3 ppg), Bragg (11.8 ppg) and Zane Martin (11.8) are all averaging double-digit figures. Martin is also a transfer (Towson). Bragg is averaging 11.0 rebounds per game and JJ Caldwell, a transfer from Texas A&M, leads the way with 23 assists.
“[New Mexico] is off to a great start in its season. They were picked third in the [Mountain West Conference] and they’re a really talented ball club,” Terry said. “I’ve heard Paul Weir say this might be the most talented offensive team that he’s had at this point right now in his head coaching career. But they have a number of guys with size and they can score the basketball and it will be a great challenge for us here at home.”
Fans can listen live on UTEP’s flagship station ESPN 600 El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action and Steve Yellen with color analysis. The Miners and Lobos can also be seen on the CUSA.TV live stream.
Single-game tickets are available by calling (915) 747-5234 or by going online. Mini plans are available by calling (915) 747-6150.