UTEP Defeats NMSU In A Nail-Biter 55-54
The UTEP Miners won for the first time since their opening night victory over Oral Roberts by knocking off their oldest rival, NMSU. The energetic crowd of 9,366 witnessed a classic battle between these two that was often tied, and came down to the final minute of the game, where UTEP prevailed.
The Miners won this game because they finished strong in the final minute of the contest. It looked as though NMSU was going to escape with a win, they were up by 4 points with 26 seconds remaining, when John Bohannon converted a huge 3 point play to cut the Aggies' lead to 1. Bohannon was fouled on his shot that he made in the paint, and then with all of the pressure on him, sank his free throw.
The Aggies held on to a narrow 1 point lead at 54-53, and then committed the most costly turnover of the game. A double dribble call against NMSU's Tyrone Watson gave UTEP the ball with 24.3 seconds left, and a chance to win the game.
The Miners were aggressive and went directly to the hoop, as Chris Washburn was fouled with only 5.9 seconds remaining in the game. Washburn was as cool as a cucumber and made the first free throw. Coach Menzies called a timeout, and attempted to ice Washburn, but it didn't work as he sank his second foul shot, and gave the Miners the 1 point lead.
With just 3.2 seconds remaining, NMSU had one final attempt to win the game, as Daniel Mullings put up a 3 pointer at the buzzer that rimmed out. For UTEP is was a much needed victory considering that they had lost their last 4 games. The storied I-10 rivalry is now tied at 102 games a piece, and the Miners have won 10 out of the last 13 meeting at the Don Haskins Center.
Following the game coach Floyd discussed the importance of the win, and he also spoke about UTEP's difficult non-conference schedule, he mentioned,
The Miners will get a much needed break and only play one game in the next 18 days when they host Idaho next Saturday. After that their schedule doesn't get any easier as they will host UNLV and Oregon. Following those games on December 17th and 19th they will host the annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.