When Tim Floyd retired Monday night following UTEP's loss to Lamar, many people were curious if the team would be different under interim head coach Phil Johnson. The only thing that was obvious last night is that the NMSU Aggies are a superior team to the Miners in every aspect. The Battle of I-10 quickly turned into a one-sided contest and the Aggies beat UTEP for the second time in five days. The 60-40 final score was a reality check for UTEP fans who skipped the Cowboys-Redskins game last night hoping to see their team break a five game losing streak. Instead, they watched the Miners continue to struggle to score points and get back on defense.

"We tried to play a little different style tonight and it was new for our team," said UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson, who took over for the retired Tim Floyd. "We had 48 hours to get ready. Not an excuse. And we tried to get a little more aggressive offensively because we have been offensively challenged. We haven’t scored the ball very well, and so we wanted to be aggressive and we interpreted that the wrong way. We interpreted that, which I’m not surprised by it, that we shot it very quickly, a lot of forced shots, a lot of quick shots, and those shots didn’t fall. And then the turnovers were really bad. I didn’t think we guarded anybody tonight and I just told the team, and really it was a lot of our veteran guys that disappointed and we told them that. We have one day to get ready to play another good basketball team and then a week [off], and we’ll use those days to get better."

Steve Kaplowitz.
Steve Kaplowitz.

UTEP is still without senior center Matt Willms, who is recovering from a fractured wrist. Things will not get any easier for the Miners, who host their old WAC rivals, the New Mexico Lobos tomorrow night at the Don Haskins Center. UNM is also struggling under first year head coach Paul Weir, and their 3-4 record makes them an intriguing opponent for the Miners. The meeting is the first time since 2008 that these two teams have played against each other at the DHC.

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